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Duke University has agreed to pay a whopping $112.5 million to the federal government as a settlement after a lawsuit was filed against the university for allegedly securing $200 million in research grants by fraudulent means.
The lawsuit filed by Joseph Thomas said that fake research data was used by the university to secure the funds.
Thomas is a former lab analyst at the university who revealed that Duke used falsified data from researcher Erin Potts-Kant to get research funding.
According to the Duke Chronicle, Potts-Kant changed the data relating to her research in the pulmonary, allergy, and critical care department of the university.
Potts-Kant has also admitted to altering data in the experiments that she conducted on mice lungs.
After Potts-Kant’s alleged fraud was discovered, over 12 research papers authored by her have been retracted, the Chronicle reported.
In an email sent across the campus, President Vincent Price wrote: “This is a difficult moment for Duke.
“This case demonstrates the devastating impact of research fraud and reinforces the need for all of us to have a focused commitment on promoting research integrity and accountability.”
Thomas’ lawsuit also indicated other faculty members who ignored the signs of fraud, including Monica Kraft, the former chief of the pulmonary division, and William Foster, an ex-professor of medicine at the university.
Duke researchers applying for grants had to face strict rules imposed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) after the fraud allegations emerged back in 2018.
The researchers were required to provide a comprehensive budget of proposed costs while applying for a grant worth less than $250,000, the Chronicle reported.
“Researchers must also receive prior NIH approval when extending grant budget periods and carrying over unused funds into the next budget period. The new regulations, however, will not affect current research grants,” the outlet reported at the time.
The new policies took effect from April last year and Duke provided a report to NIH detailing the “current policies and procedures, planned improvements, and assessment of our internal controls.”
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