Posted by Jack
Duke University will pay $112.5 million to settle claims that biomedical researchers at the school manipulated research data to apply for federal grants, an attorney for the whistleblower in the case said March 25.
The latest settlement puts to bed one of two research scandals involving the Durham, N.C., campus over the past decade, prompting the National Institutes of Health to impose additional oversight over Duke’s management of its research awards.
False Claims Act violations are a major compliance danger zone for universities in general, but it’s rare that these cases involve tampering with scientific data. FCA allegations involving universities usually arise over improper billing to the federal government for salaries or other administrative matters.
“This case was, simply put, one of the largest scientific fraud cases in history. The impact on the published scientific record, federal grant funding, and on individual researchers was unprecedented,” the whistleblower’s attorney, John R. Thomas Jr., said. Thomas, a partner with Healy Hafemann Magee, is the brother of whistleblower Joseph M. Thomas.
Joseph M. Thomas sued Duke in 2013 alleging his former colleague, Erin N. Potts-Kant, her supervisor, William Michael Foster, and the university falsified data in applying for research grants. They received more than 60 research grants, totaling $200 million in funding, from the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency. Potts-Kant was fired two months before the complaint was filed, and Foster has since retired.
( The whistle blower will receive over $33 million! )