I bet this guy started just by accepting those free lunches sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, thinking, what harm can there be?
‘Humbled’ scientist is put on probation
NIH’s Sunderland got funds from Pfizer
By Matthew Dolan (Baltimore Sun)
A leading government Alzheimer’s researcher told a federal judge in Baltimore yesterday that he had no good explanation for why he improperly accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in undisclosed fees from a drug manufacturer while helping to control government-sponsored research with the same company.
Before the judge imposed the agreed-upon sentence of two years of probation, 400 hours of community service and a restitution payment of $300,000, Pearson “Trey” Sunderland III, chief of the geriatric psychiatry branch of the National Institute of Mental Health, said the conviction “humbled me in a way I’ve never experienced before.”
Sunderland spoke calmly and read from prepared notes, apologizing to his colleagues, patients, friends and family members. He was nervous, he said, in large part because he was confessing his misdeed in front of his son, who sat in the back row of the courtroom.
“I cannot tell you why, except to say that it’s not a part of my regular character,” Sunderland said, referring to the undisclosed payments he received from the drug giant Pfizer Inc.
In late 1997, representatives of Pfizer approached Sunderland about his agency joining a scientific collaboration. It was to involve researchers at Pfizer and NIH who were searching for ways to detect the presence and progression of Alzheimer’s, a neurodegenerative disease.
Prosecutors said that Sunderland joined the collaboration but did not tell his bosses that he cut a side deal for personal payments from Pfizer on the same project.