Duke to pay $112.5M to settle claims over falsified research: DOJ

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Duke University has agreed to settle allegations of scientific research misconduct for $112.5 million, the Department of Justice announced Monday.

Between 2006 and 2018, the university “knowingly” submitted claims to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that included falsified or fabricated data in 30 grants, according to the Justice Department.

Both agencies provide millions in grant funding to the university every year, the Justice Department said.

“Duke knowingly, the government contended, falsified data to claim millions of grant dollars from the National Institutes of Health,” said Maureen Dixon, the special agent in charge at the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Inspector General, in a statement.

The settlement does not include a determination of liability, according to the Justice Department.

Duke did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

The claims involved research related to mice conducted by a Duke research technician in the university’s Airway Physiology Laboratory.

“The resources utilized by NIH and EPA to fund important research and clinical programs across the nation are limited,” Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division said in a statement. “Today’s settlement demonstrates that the Department of Justice will pursue grantees that knowingly falsify research and undermine the integrity of federal funding decisions.”

The allegations were initially made in a whistleblower lawsuit brought by former Duke employee Joseph Thomas under the False Claims Act. Thomas will receive $33.75 million from the settlement, according to the Justice Department.