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HHS: Watching Out For Integrity Violations
HHS's Office of Research Integrity (ORI) plays a key role in ensuring the integrity of research supported by the Department's Public Health Service at about 4,000 institutions around the world. ORI's mission is to monitor "institutional investigations of research misconduct" and facilitate "the responsible conduct of research through educational, preventive, and regulatory activities."

ORI recently made the news when it banned an award-winning professor at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) from performing government-backed research for three years. The professor has also resigned from Harvard. According to an article in the Harvard Crimson Online, ORI issued a report stating that the professor "plagiarized text, data and images on the grant application and had additionally tried to falsify the results for one experiment on malaria strains." The article notes that original investigation was initiated by HSPH which then turned the results of its inquiry over to HHS.

The need for vigilance in ensuring integrity, even among noted academicians, is highlighted by the fact that "Since the start of the academic year, two Harvard Law School professors, Laurence H. Tribe 62 and Charles J. Ogletree, have admitted to misusing sources in books they authored." Furthermore, the former professor in question, "is one of eight academics charged with misconduct this year by the Department of Health and Human Services..."

Winston is pleased to see that ORI is performing it watchdog function admirably. Winston is also pleased to see that the government's action was the result of cooperation between the ORI and a third-party stakeholder. However, Winston has a question. In addition to providing grants to thousands of researchers, HHS also has contractual relations with researchers and others to perform administrative and scientific duties for the Department. Winston wants to know who is responsible for ensuring the integrity of the work performed by these scientists.

  • Click to read Harvard Crimson Online article.

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