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Fraud-Convicted Researcher Spared Jail Time

A confession and supportive letters convince a judge to go easy on a researcher who fabricated data in a federal grant proposal.

By | June 29, 2011

NODAR KHERKHEULIDZE VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Immunologist Luk Van Parijs avoided six months in jail for data falsification after confessing to the crime and receiving letters from several prominent scientists asking for leniency on his behalf, Nature reports.

In 2004, after researchers from his lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suspected that Van Parijs fudged data in experiments on immune system deficiencies in autoimmune diseases, a series of investigations began, including inquiries by MIT, Harvard Medical School, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and the US Office of Research Integrity (ORI)—all of which concluded that he was guilty of data fabrication.

In total, his misconduct affected seven published papers, three submitted papers, one submitted book chapter, and a successful 2003 application for $2 million in grant funds from the National Institutes of Health, according to the ORI.

This February, the US government filed federal charges against Van Parijs for using fake data in his grant proposal. He pled guilty, and on June 13, was sentenced to six months of home detention, 400 hours of community service, and repayment of $61,117 he had already spent from the grant.

Prosecutors had requested a 6-month jail sentence, but his willingness to cooperate and supportive letters from scientists (including Nobel prizewinner David Baltimore, Van Parijs’ postdoc advisor at Caltech, and Richard Hynes, Van Parijs’ MIT-appointed advocate during the investigation there) convinced the federal judge that Van Parijs was truly remorseful for his actions.

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Comments

Avatar of: Tom Hennessy

Tom Hennessy

Posts: 1457

June 30, 2011

So he was remorseful. Big deal. He should not be allowed anywhere near a lab , a lab tech or me .. ever. He is in a field in which improper work could lead to death. He should have been charged with attempted murder not with fraud. Imho.

Avatar of: Vkapatral

Anonymous

June 30, 2011

Greedy! Many top scientists would like their name on every publication even though they are not involved or not know anything about the paper.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

June 30, 2011

So he was remorseful. Big deal. He should not be allowed anywhere near a lab , a lab tech or me .. ever. He is in a field in which improper work could lead to death. He should have been charged with attempted murder not with fraud. Imho.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

June 30, 2011

Greedy! Many top scientists would like their name on every publication even though they are not involved or not know anything about the paper.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

June 30, 2011

So he was remorseful. Big deal. He should not be allowed anywhere near a lab , a lab tech or me .. ever. He is in a field in which improper work could lead to death. He should have been charged with attempted murder not with fraud. Imho.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

June 30, 2011

Greedy! Many top scientists would like their name on every publication even though they are not involved or not know anything about the paper.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

July 26, 2011

its not going to 'lead to death' - thats WAY over the  top. it's just science.

but is it quite demoralizing for those of us who don't cheat, and end up on the wrong side of the funding bubble because we don't have the 'prefect' preliminary results that needed to be made up... we get screwed on funding. and also because we are not 'connected' with the likes of big-shots like baltimore - who first help him get the grant, and then got him off the hook when he got in hot water...talk about an old-boy network! this is dirtier than politics...

and for those keeping score, baltimore had his own run-ins with fraud a decade or so ago -got off by pinning it all on a different postdoc (but are we all convinced?)... seems like there's a culture of "do what it takes to get the grant, just don't get caught" at the highest echelons of science.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

July 26, 2011

its not going to 'lead to death' - thats WAY over the  top. it's just science.

but is it quite demoralizing for those of us who don't cheat, and end up on the wrong side of the funding bubble because we don't have the 'prefect' preliminary results that needed to be made up... we get screwed on funding. and also because we are not 'connected' with the likes of big-shots like baltimore - who first help him get the grant, and then got him off the hook when he got in hot water...talk about an old-boy network! this is dirtier than politics...

and for those keeping score, baltimore had his own run-ins with fraud a decade or so ago -got off by pinning it all on a different postdoc (but are we all convinced?)... seems like there's a culture of "do what it takes to get the grant, just don't get caught" at the highest echelons of science.

Avatar of: Guest

Anonymous

July 26, 2011

its not going to 'lead to death' - thats WAY over the  top. it's just science.

but is it quite demoralizing for those of us who don't cheat, and end up on the wrong side of the funding bubble because we don't have the 'prefect' preliminary results that needed to be made up... we get screwed on funding. and also because we are not 'connected' with the likes of big-shots like baltimore - who first help him get the grant, and then got him off the hook when he got in hot water...talk about an old-boy network! this is dirtier than politics...

and for those keeping score, baltimore had his own run-ins with fraud a decade or so ago -got off by pinning it all on a different postdoc (but are we all convinced?)... seems like there's a culture of "do what it takes to get the grant, just don't get caught" at the highest echelons of science.

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