Chemist Charged After Researcher’s Death

A laboratory head faces criminal charges after one of his researchers died in a lab fire in 2008.

By | January 3, 2012

Fir0002/Flagstaffotos" > Wikimedia Commons, Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, FIR0002/FLAGSTAFFOTOS

Three years ago, 23-year-old Sheharbano Sangji, a chemistry researcher in the lab of Patrick Harran at the University of California, Los Angeles, died after the t-butyl lithium she was drawing from a bottle burst into flames, igniting her clothes and causing third-degree burns on her body. Last week (December 27), Harran—as well as the regents of the UC system—were charged with three counts each of “willful violation of an occupational health and safety standard causing the death of an employee,” according to the felony filing. Experts believe that this represents the first case of criminal prosecution over an academic lab accident in the United States, Nature reported.

UCLA has already paid around $70,000 in fines as a result of the accident, and toughened its safety policy. If convicted on the current charges, the university could face up to $1.5 million in fines for each of the three counts, and Harran could be jailed for up to 4.5 years, an attorney spokesperson told the LA Times.

"I think this is a game-changer,” Jim Kaufman, president of the Laboratory Safety Institute in Natick, Massachusetts, told Nature. “It will significantly affect how people think about their responsibilities now that it’s clear there’s the possibility of going to jail.”

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You

You

Processing...
Processing...

Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo

Comments

Avatar of: Shmazpro

Shmazpro

Posts: 1

January 3, 2012

Wow...

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 3, 2012

Wow...

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 3, 2012

Wow...

Popular Now

  1. UC Berkeley Receives CRISPR Patent in Europe
    Daily News UC Berkeley Receives CRISPR Patent in Europe

    The European Patent Office will grant patent rights over the use of CRISPR in all cell types to a University of California team, contrasting with a recent decision in the U.S.

  2. DNA Replication Errors Contribute to Cancer Risk
  3. Should Healthy People Have Their Exomes Sequenced?
    Daily News Should Healthy People Have Their Exomes Sequenced?

    With its announced launch of a whole-exome sequencing service for apparently healthy individuals, Ambry Genetics is the latest company to enter this growing market. But whether these services are useful for most people remains up for debate.  

  4. Rethinking a Cancer Drug Target
    Daily News Rethinking a Cancer Drug Target

    The results of a CRISPR-Cas9 study suggest that MELK—a protein thought to play a critical role in cancer—is not necessary for cancer cell survival.

Business Birmingham