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 The alleged fraud demonstrates weakness in the way MCG oversees some of its research projects and will result in added scrutiny of all state research universities
Robert Steel/Staff

MCG studies to get checkup

Web posted Feb. 19 at 11:44 AM

 MCG researchers indicted on 172 counts
 College a victim, chief says
 Past articles and more information

By Paul Garber
Staff Writer

Medical College of Georgia officials will spend a quarter of a million dollars annually to fund a new research oversight office in the wake of theft allegations against former researchers Richard L. Borison and Bruce I. Diamond.

The alleged fraud demonstrates weakness in the way MCG oversees some of its research projects and will result in added scrutiny of all state research universities, said University System Chancellor Stephen Portch.

``Obviously it is disturbing that it went undetected,'' Dr. Portch said, ``but I think, to use the Attorney General's office phrase, it was a highly sophisticated scheme. It is clear our procedures were inadequate.''

Reviews also have been ordered at the state's other three research universities - Georgia Institute of Technology and Georgia State University in Atlanta and the University of Georgia in Athens - to see whether their oversight of research is adequate, Dr. Portch said.

Should MCG officials have known that more than $10 million allegedly was being diverted from them?

MCG President Francis Tedesco said that under the current policies, they couldn't have known. MCG did not know about the studies that the two researchers did through their private companies because the researchers never reported them to MCG, he said.

The research process is based on the trust between researchers and the administration, he said, and officials assume that researchers are being accurate and ethical when reporting on their studies.

The policy is about to change.

The new Office of Clinical Trials at MCG will track the money and the patients in each clinical study to ensure that funds are properly spent and that patient care is not being compromised, said Dr. Tedesco.

Dr. Portch said faculty members are required to report annually on their research and get advance approval of such projects from their supervisors, but MCG lacked any independent way to check up on its professors' outside business dealings.

The new office will supplement the college's Human Assurance Committee by auditing budget reports of clinical trials, reviewing contract agreements and conducting periodic audits of research records. The committee is responsible for making sure research involving patients is ethical.

The office will be staffed by researchers and quality assurance specialists, Dr. Tedesco said.

At any given time, there are between 200 and 300 research studies being performed at MCG, said Dr. George Schuster, chairman of MCG's Institutional Review Board.

``It should be noted that a very small number of studies conducted by Dr. Borison were appropriately managed through MCG,'' said Malcolm Kling, interim vice president for research at MCG. Dr. Borison's MCG studies were transferred to other faculty researchers, he said.

Dr. Tedesco said he did not believe the Borison investigation would lead to a decline in research funding because the school acted so quickly to get to the bottom of the case.

MCG officials have investigated three cases of research misconduct allegations in the last three years, including the Borison case.

Since 1995, MCG officials found researchers Frederick Garver, Xi-Liang Wang and Gloria Clayton guilty of research misconduct.

Last year, an investigative committee found Dr. Garver, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, guilty of misconduct for requesting Dr. Wang to take a cell sample from another researcher.

In 1994, Ms. Clayton, professor of adult nursing, admitted she made up subjects and data as part of a study of senior citizens. She agreed not to take any federal funds for three years and to cooperate in submitting letters of correction to the publications containing the fabricated data. She is no longer affiliated with MCG.

The Borison case is the only one of the three research misconduct investigations to include allegations of criminal wrongdoing.

Past Articles

  • FDA is reviewing researchers' work -- 10/18/95
  • MCG looking at changes admid reseach investigation -- 10/06/96
  • Was research a shell game? - graphic -- 10/06/96
  • What is research misconduct? --10/06/96
  • Investigators asking if medical reseachers diverted funds - 08/17/96
  • Profile of Richard L. Borison - 08/17/96
  • Profile of Bruce I. Diamond - 08/17/96

    [Past Articles]

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