Findings of Scientific Misconduct

Oof. A fellowship director no less. Comment below provides “the rest of the story.”

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

Based on information that the Respondent volunteered to his former mentor on November 7, 2006, and detailed in a written admission on September 19, 2007, and ORI’s review of Joint Inquiry and Investigation reports by Harvard Medical School (HMS) and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), the US PHS found that Dr. Robert B. Fogel, former Assistant Professor of Medicine and Associate Physician at HMS, and former Co-Director of the Fellowship in Sleep Medicine at BWH, engaged in scientific misconduct in research supported by awards P50HL60292, R01HL48531, K23HL04400, F32HL10246, and M01RR02635 [GCRC-writedit].

PHS found that Respondent engaged in scientific misconduct by falsifying and fabricating baseline data published in Fogel,RB et al. Anatomic and physiologic predictors of apnea severity in morbidly obese subjects. Sleep 2003;2:150-155 and in a preliminary abstract reporting on this work. Specifically, PHS found that for the data reported in the Sleep paper, the Respondent:

  • Changed/falsified roughly half of the physiologic data
  • Fabricated roughly 20% of the anatomic data that were supposedly obtained from CT images
  • Changed/falsified 50-80% of the other anatomic data
  • Changed/falsified roughly 40-50% of the sleep data so that those data would better conform to his hypothesis.
  • Respondent also published some of the falsified and fabricated data in an abstract in Sleep 24, Abstract Supplement A7, 2001.

4 Comments »

  1. BikeMonkey said

    Only the one faked paper? Odd, usually it takes more than this to result in an ORI sanction.

    He turned himself in. Usually it takes a lot of fabrication before someone catches on or blows the whistle and the institution gets ORI involved. I don’t have the impression that ORI has an extensive menu of disciplinary options. Misconduct is misconduct, whether in one paper or twenty. – writedit

  2. BikeMonkey said

    I’m saying odd to get caught, not that it didn’t deserve sanction. But…what? Turned himself in???? Any idea why?

  3. writedit said

    Note the wording of this introductory clause:

    Based on information that the Respondent volunteered to his former mentor on November 7, 2006, and detailed in a written admission on September 19, 2007

    The Scientist has a nice piece providing “the rest of the story”, including:

    The misconduct came to light in 2006, two years after Fogel joined Merck, when Fogel’s former supervisor, David White, asked him to coauthor the follow-up study. Fogel then confessed that he had fudged his original data to create the appearance of a positive result. …

    Fogel contacted HMS’s research integrity office with his confession. Harvard officials then conducted a thorough review of Fogel’s 30-odd studies stemming from his time at the Brigham, and found no other instances of wrongdoing. “This is the only paper where I ever did something wrong,” Fogel said. The case was then brought forward to the ORI, and quickly settled.

    “He’s both the complainant and the respondent,” John Dahlberg, director of the division of investigative oversight at ORI, told The Scientist. “It’s the only time I remember seeing that.

    … Fogel voluntarily agreed to exclude himself from Public Health Service-funded research for a period of three years unless he is under active supervision. “If I hadn’t come clean, this probably never would have come to light,” he said. “I hate to say it, but this probably happens more often than we think.”

  4. whimple said

    The best punishment for Fogel would be for his doctoral institution to withdraw his degree.

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