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Here's how Duke will pay for its $112.5 million research fraud lawsuit settlement

Duke will fork over more than a dozen times the salary of men’s basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski to the federal government in a research misconduct case settlement—$112.5 million.

President Vincent Price called it a “difficult moment” in a Monday email to the Duke community, but the University knows how it will pay for it. 

Duke has been prepared for this moment for “some time,” wrote Michael Schoenfeld, vice president of public affairs and government relations, in an email to The Chronicle. The University has been in discussions with the government for years and the sum will "come from central School of Medicine reserves."

“No tuition, gifts or externally sponsored funds will be used, nor will the settlement have an impact on any financial aid, educational programs or patient care services at Duke,” Schoenfeld wrote. 

Duke’s annual budget for the 2018-2019 academic year—which includes the School of Medicine—sits at $2.7 billion. 

The University announced Monday its settlement of a lawsuit regarding its alleged handling of falsified research data that was linked to $200 million in federal research grants. More than $33 million will go to the whistleblower—former lab analyst Joseph Thomas—in the case, which was brought under the False Claims Act. 

Former Duke researcher Erin Potts-Kant of the pulmonary, allergy and critical care department of Duke Health allegedly committed the fraud on research on mice’s lungs. She admitted to altering some parts of the data but said that the experiments in question actually happened. The data from the research helped secure hundreds of millions in federal grants. Two of Potts-Kants' supervisors were also referenced in the case, accused of negligence and ignoring warnings of misconduct. 

The University has since taken many steps to improve research integrity, from creating an Office for Scientific Integrity to establishing a Clinical Quality Monitoring Program, among other initiatives. Price addressed those research integrity steps at last week's Academic Council meeting. 

"It is building upon a series of events—in many cases, significant lawsuits—that have caused us repeatedly to go back and revise and improve our policies," the president said.

Ben Leonard

Managing Editor 2018-19, 2019-2020 Features & Investigations Editor 

A member of the class of 2020 hailing from San Mateo, Calif., Ben is The Chronicle's Towerview Editor and Investigations Editor. Outside of the Chronicle, he is a public policy major working towards a journalism certificate, has interned at the Tampa Bay Times and NBC News and frequents Pitchforks. 


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