Findings of Scientific Misconduct

Now reported in the NIH Guide and to the Federal Register by ORI

Notice is hereby given that the ORI and the Assistant Secretary for Health have taken final action in the following case:

Based on the findings of an investigation conducted by the Investigation Commission appointed by Norwegian Radium Hospital (NRH) and the University of Oslo, the respondent’s own admission, and additional analysis and information obtained by the ORI during its oversight review, the U.S. PHS found that Jon Sudb[oslash], D.D.S., former doctoral student and faculty member, University of Oslo, and former physician in the Department of Medical Oncology and Radiotherapy, NRH, engaged in scientific misconduct by reporting fabricated and/or falsified research in grant application 1 P01 CA106451-01 and its first-year progress report.

Specifically, PHS found that Dr. Sudb[oslash] engaged in scientific misconduct by falsifying and fabricating research that served as the rationale for Project 1, “Oral Cancer Prevention with Molecular Targeting Therapy,” with Dr. Jon Sudb[oslash], as project leader, in the grant application, and by falsifying a progress report for the awarded grant. In particular, in Figure 1 of the Background and Significance section of the grant application, Dr. Sudb[oslash] reported fabricated/falsified results for the effects of lesion ploidy upon survival in patients with oral pre-malignant lesions. In the Preliminary Data section of the grant application, Dr. Sudb[oslash] reported several events intended to demonstrate his experience in the research field that the Investigation Commission stated “appear as pure fiction.” Also, in the first yearly progress report for the funded grant, Dr. Sudb[oslash] falsified the number of patients that had been screened for admission to the study.

In addition to 3 publications for which Dr. Sudb[oslash] admitted falsifying and/or fabricating data, the Investigation Commission found at least 12 other publications that warranted retraction because they could not be considered valid. The research reported in these publications was not supported by PHS funds. However, the publications address the same general research area as that addressed in the grant application and demonstrate a pervasive pattern of falsification/fabrication in research reporting on the part of Dr. Sudb[oslash]. The falsified/fabricated data presented in the grant application purport to demonstrate the feasibility of preventing cancer in a high risk population with nontoxic oral agents.

5 Comments »

  1. whimple said

    Is there a purpose behind posting findings of scientific misconduct investigations here? I find your other posts generally informative and substantive.

    Personal interest in & commitment to promoting scientific integrity among investigators seeking grant funding from the NIH, NSF, and other research sponsors. These notices don’t get much play or discussion in the scientific community, so I feel they warrant a sort of awareness-raising PSA status here. – writedit

  2. PhysioProf said

    It’s called “scared straight”.

  3. whimple said

    It won’t work. Scientists have integrity because “it’s the right thing to do”, not out of fear of punishment. People that need to and/or can be “scared straight” are already lost to scientific ethics.

  4. drugmonkey said

    every little bit counts. i disagree that it is either/or as good old SRiv would have it. the road to major fraud is initiated in minor “everybody does this” rationales. the key for me is doing what we can to keep otherwise well-intentioned people from sliding off the path. i do, however, credit most scientists with being otherwise well intentioned. i just don’t buy that all the fraud and fakery is committed by people who went into this thinking “gee, this is a good place for me to set up a cheating operation”.

    these notices show that at least at the extreme end, science make a clear statement that fraud is unacceptable.

  5. whimple said

    Let’s read that clear statement. (writedit, you copied the report verbatim, but omitted the business part below)

    ”’
    Dr. Sudb[oslash] has entered into a Voluntary Exclusion Agreement (Agreement) in which he has voluntarily agreed, beginning on August 31, 2007:

    (1) To exclude himself permanently from any contracting or subcontracting with any agency of the United States Government and from eligibility or involvement in nonprocurement programs of the United States Government as delineated in the OMB Guidelines to Agencies on Governmentwide Debarment and Suspension at 2 CFR Part 376, et seq.; Dr. Sudb[oslash] agrees that he will not petition HHS to reverse or reduce the scope of the permanent voluntary exclusion or other administrative actions that are the subject of this Agreement; and

    (2) To exclude himself permanently from serving in any advisory capacity to PHS, including but not limited to service on any PHS advisory committee, board, and/or peer review committee, or as a consultant or contractor to PHS.
    ”’

    A person who wasn’t doing science now has voluntarily agreed not to do science anymore. Weak. Who exactly is this going to scare? The takehome message is that there effectively is no penalty for scientific fraud. If anything, a steady drumbeat posting of these notices sends the message that everybody really is doing it, and nothing happens to those few who actually get caught.

    I let the reader go check on the punishment. All the US PHS can do is stop funding Dr. Subd[oslash], though perhaps Norway will bring criminal charges against him, such as what happened with Eric Poehlman here in the US. Career over, though, for most these folks, and the community of science has at least had these sources of false data (upon which other investigators might have based their own work) removed … and become aware that there are “scientists” capable of engaging in such fraud – with peer-reviewed grant funding no less. – writedit

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