Duke Sued for Cancer Trial

Cancer patients and families of deceased patients filed a lawsuit against Duke University for clinical trials based on flawed data.

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef (an unusual nickname for Jennifer) got her master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses. After four years of diving off the Gulf...

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Sep 12, 2011


Last year, Duke oncologist Anil Potti admitted to having posed as a Rhodes Scholar and fabricating statistical analyses on how breast cancer responds to chemotherapy. Now, participants of clinical trials based partly on his research and families of participants who have died are suing the university and some Duke employees for "fraudulent and negligent behavior" for enrolling cancer patients in the trials, ScienceInsider reports.

The plaintiffs accuse Duke officials of knowing that Potti's work, as well as the research of cancer geneticist Joseph Nevins, former director of Duke's Center for Applied Genomics & Technology, was problematic when they began initiating the trials. According to the lawsuit, "In May 2007, after being placed on notice of the flawed science underlying its cancer studies as referenced above, Duke University and/or DUHS [Duke University Health System] nevertheless began their first clinical trial,"...

Duke's response "to the accusation of invalid and fraudulent science was deceptive, misleading, and fraudulent conduct designed to protect its reputation and proprietary interests," the lawsuit states. "[This] reduced the Plaintiffs' likelihood of surviving his/her cancer or the likelihood of experiencing a positive response to the chemotherapy regimen."