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Duke University to pay $112 million to US government after accusations of faking research for grants

Duke University

DURHAM, N.C. — Duke University agreed to pay out millions in a settlement after the university was accused of falsifying research in order to get grant funds from government agencies, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The settlement means that Duke University will not be found liable for the alleged violation of the False Claims Act, but the university will still have to pay $112.5 million to the United States government.

“This settlement sends a strong message that fraud and dishonesty will not be tolerated in the research funding process,” said EPA Acting Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “We will continue to take appropriate legal measures to ensure a fiscally sound system that protects grant funds.”

Each year, Duke University receives millions of dollars across hundreds of grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency, according to the USDOJ.

The U.S. government alleged that, between 2006 and 2018, Duke knowingly included fake data and statements in 30 grant claims submitted to the NIH and the EPA. As a result, the NIH and EPA paid out funds that they otherwise would not have.

The government specifically believes that there were falsified or fabricated results and statements in a Duke Airway Physiology Laboratory research technician’s research related to mice.

“Taxpayers expect and deserve that federal grant dollars will be used efficiently and honestly.  Individuals and institutions that receive research funding from the federal government must be scrupulous in conducting research for the common good and rigorous in rooting out fraud,” said Matthew G.T. Martin, United States Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina.  “May this serve as a lesson that the use of false or fabricated data in grant applications or reports is completely unacceptable.”

Former Duke employee Joseph Thomas, the whistle blower who brought the allegations to the U.S. government, will receive $33,750,000 from the settlement.

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