Hidden Data: The Blind Eye of Science

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A story of scientific misconduct told by a Professor of Radiology at the New Jersey Medical School in Newark, NJ, who witnessed it and then tried to get the authorities to deal with it, failing at every step along the way. First, the University Campus Committee on Research Integrity ruled there was not enough evidence in spite of two eye witness accounts of very suspicious behavior. Then the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) of the US Public Health Service supported the University even though they discovered statistical evidence for data manipulation. At the behest of the ORI, she tried again to convince the University and failed again. She filed a suit for qui tam, in which she represented the federal government in charging that it had been defrauded. This, too, failed. The judge did not understand the science. The Court of Appeals agreed but one of the judges even admitted that they were just judges and that she, herself, had never had a science course in her life. The loss was costly — over $200,000 — but during Discovery, the whistle blower obtained scans of all the relevant experiments performed in the laboratory over an eight year period that encompassed the four year tenure of the suspected Research Teaching Fellow and numerous honest controls. Additional attempts to confront the University and the ORI were rebuffed and challenging journals that had published the questionable data failed to get their attention. In all, eight publications and at least two funded grant applications by the US Public Health Service to the tune of several million dollars are backed by the very questionable data that are scrutinized in this book.

The book demonstrates the reticence of authorities involved to deal effectively with scientific misconduct. These include the University and its designated Campus Committee for Research Integrity, the ORI, the courts, and the publishers of scientific journals. Fear of law suits and loss of funding overwhelms any obligation to make the scientific record straight. This book is a wake-up call for science and the public to monitor the record and demand the truth.