Statement of the Vice Provost on a Finding of Misconduct in Research

The University is dedicated to the highest standards of ethical practice in all research conducted under its auspices. Misconduct in research undermines the academic enterprise and represents a serious breach of both the rules of the University and the norms of scholarly communities. Although instances of misconduct in research are relatively rare, when allegations of misconduct do arise, the University is committed to pursuing them thoroughly and fairly, in accordance with established University guidelines and applicable laws, and in a manner that respects the rights of all parties. If misconduct is found to have occurred, the University takes prompt corrective action and imposes sanctions as appropriate. It is with regret that we now report on the outcome of one such matter.

The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) of the United States Department of Health and Human Services has made a final finding that Terry D. Reisine, Ph.D., engaged in scientific misconduct while a Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University's Medical School. The ORI finding was based on ORI's oversight review of the evidence provided, including evidence that had been presented to the Medical School's Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility ("CAFR"). On October 7, 1997, the Executive Committee of the University's Trustees, accepting the recommendation of CAFR, terminated Dr. Reisine's faculty appointment.

Both the University and ORI concluded that Dr. Reisine had falsified experimental results by misrepresenting in manuscripts and publications the numbers of experiments conducted and by falsifying and/or fabricating some of the substantive data presented in those manuscripts and publications. Additionally, ORI and the University found that Dr. Reisine attempted to falsify data by directing members of his laboratory to construct figures and tables with false values in the preparation of manuscripts.

Dr. Reisine has entered into a Voluntary Exclusion Agreement with ORI. The settlement is not an admission of liability by Dr. Reisine, who denies having committed scientific misconduct. Under the agreement, Dr. Reisine has agreed to exclude himself voluntarily through June 11, 2001 from contracting or subcontracting with any agency of the federal government, from eligibility for or involvement in any grants or cooperative agreements of the federal government, and from serving in any advisory capacity to the Public Health Service. He has also agreed to submit corrections to three journals. A summary of ORI's finding and actions appeared in the Federal Register on July 1, 1998.

The internal procedure followed by the University to address the misconduct charges against Dr. Reisine was a comprehensive one that was sensitive both to the seriousness of the charges and the need for fairness in adjudicating them. Acting pursuant to the University's Procedures for "Suspension or Termination of Faculty for Just Cause," CAFR heard extensive testimony at hearings taking place over a number of weeks. At the hearings, Dr. Reisine had counsel, had a full opportunity to respond to the charges against him, called his own witnesses and cross-examined adverse witnesses. At the close of the hearing, CAFR unanimously concluded that it had been proven by a preponderance of the evidence that Dr. Reisine had committed the research misconduct that is the subject of the ORI finding.

In his appeal of the CAFR findings to the Executive Committee of the Trustees, Dr. Reisine presented both a written and an oral statement. The Executive Committee concluded that sufficient evidence had been presented at the CAFR proceeding to establish that Dr. Reisine committed the research misconduct that is the subject of the ORI finding. On that basis, the Executive Committee terminated Dr. Reisine's appointment.

In reporting to the University community on these developments, I wish to re-emphasize in the strongest terms the central obligation of research integrity set forth in the University's Procedures Regarding Misconduct in Research:

 

The University expects each faculty member to maintain and further the highest standards of ethical practices in research. Especially important are integrity in recording and reporting results, [and] care in execution of research procedures.

 

The University will continue to enforce vigorously and fairly these fundamental standards of honesty in research. Finally, we wish to thank the members of the University community who gave of their time and expertise in connection with this matter and, in particular, the three individuals who brought it to the attention of University officials and who exhibited extraordinary courage, integrity and perseverance throughout the proceedings.

--Ralph Amado, Vice Provost for Research


Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 2, September 8, 1998

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