Duke University Pays $112.5 Million in Research Misconduct Settlement

Duke University has agreed to pay $112.5 million to the U.S. government to settle accusations that it falsified research to obtain millions in grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The suit, which was brought by former Duke lab analyst Joseph Thomas, alleged that the university knowingly submitted the falsified claims between 2006 and 2018 on dozens of grants that supported research of lung function in mice. Mr. Thomas will receive a $33.75 million settlement since he sued on behalf of the federal government under the False Claims Act’s whistleblower provisions.

Duke said it discovered the potential research misconduct in 2013, when the responsible technician was fired for embezzling money from the university.

In a statement, Duke President Vincent E. Price, PhD, said, “When individuals fail to uphold [integrity] standards, and those who are aware of possible wrongdoing fail to report it, as happened in this case, we must accept responsibility, acknowledge that our processes for identifying and preventing misconduct did not work, and take steps to improve.”

Source: CNN, March 25, 2019. NPR, March 25, 2019.