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Duke pays $ 112.5 million in fake research case whistled by whistleblower



(Reuters) – Duke University agreed to pay $ 112.5 million to settle claims from a whistleblower that a former research engineer deliberately sent false data into federal research grants applications, US Department of Justice said on Monday.

The deal solves the claims of a former lab scientist at Duke who said Durham, North Carolina-based university knew that Erin Potts-Kant used fraudulent data to receive grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies.

False claims were filed in connection with 30 grants, starting in 2006, which led the authorities to allocate funds that they would not otherwise have paid, said the Justice Department.

"We expect Duke researchers to always follow the highest standards of integrity and practically everyone does it with great dedication," said Duke President Vincent Price in a statement.

"When individuals fail to maintain these rds, and those who are aware of any inaccuracies fail to report it, as happened in this case, we must accept responsibility, admit that our processes of identifying and preventing maladministration did not work, and taking action to improve, "he added. ] Duke said fraud was discovered after Potts-Kant was arrested in 201

3 for embezzlement of money from the university.

It said that Potts-Kant later charged himself with two counts of counterfeit and paid repayment.

At least 16 of Ms. Potts-Kant's research documents have been revoked, according to the website Retraction Watch.

Joseph Thomas, wh. istleblower, said some of Ms Potts-Kant's work related to research by her supervisor Michael Foster, a former professor of medicine involving mice testing.

Mr. Thomas will get $ 33.75 million, or 30%, from the settlement. The False Claims Act allows whistleblowers to sue on behalf of the federal government and share in refunds.

"Taxpayers expect and deserve that federal grant dollars will be used effectively and honestly," Matthew Martin, US lawyer for the Middle District of North Carolina, said in a statement.

Lawyers for Thomas had no immediate comment. A lawyer for Mr. Foster refused to comment. Lawyers for Ms. Potts-Kant did not immediately respond to the request for comment.

Duke said it took several steps to upgrade the integrity of research and accountability in response to the settlement.

                    


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