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After massive lawsuit, new VP of research set to fix Duke research

In the wake of a crushing $112.5 million research fraud lawsuit against Duke earlier this year, the University established a new school-wide Office of Research. 

The new office will be led by Lawrence Carin, James L. Meriam professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Carin, a prominent figure in machine learning and artificial intelligence with a degree in electrical engineering, has been appointed as the University’s first vice president of research. Duke’s new Office of Research will now coordinate all research operations at the University and the medical system. 

“The new Office of Research oversees Duke’s entire research enterprise and works collaboratively with the schools, deans and faculty,” Carin wrote in an email to The Chronicle.

Carin called this new office one that follows a “One Duke” policy, which represents a notable departure from the previous structure in which the School of Medicine operated somewhat independently.

“Duke is at its best when all parts of the University work together, bringing the best from each other,” Carin added.

Since 2014, Carin has served as the vice provost of research. As vice president of research within the new office, he retains many of his responsibilities, but he now oversees research across the entire University system.

Carin’s expectation is that Duke will become a leader in research administration, as he wrote that all researchers within the Duke community want to attain “excellence with a foundation defined by the highest standards of integrity and ethics.”

Even in light of the multi-million dollar lawsuit, he remains optimistic about the University’s future.

“In [five] to 10 years, I hope people will look back and say that Duke went through a difficult period in 2018,” Carin wrote. “But, as a result of that, the University recommitted to research of the highest standards, it took a careful look at its processes, and it came together as one university.”

In response to allegations of research misconduct, the Office of Research has begun working to ensure that there is no next time. 

“We are striving for an ‘ownership’ culture, in which everyone at Duke feels a sense of responsibility to each other and to the institution,” Carin wrote. “That means doing the right thing, always, and, if something seems amiss, bringing that to the attention of school leaders and/or Office of Scientific Integrity.”

When it comes to his personal research, Carin began his career observing electromagnetic waves as an engineer but now uses his self-taught knowledge on machine learning to develop methods to “automate the analysis of images, text, and other types of data.” 

His latest research has many applications to medicine, and he wrote that he looks forward to continuing his research in his role as vice president of research. Carin manages his different roles by starting his days very early each morning and devoting his entire Saturday to research.  

“I think it is important that the [vice president of research] actually engage in research, and touch the research enterprise, as this is important to bring insight into the challenges and opportunities for everyone doing research at Duke,” Carin wrote.

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