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Purdue to pay fine to DOJ for professor’s false grant applications

Purdue to pay fine to DOJ for professor’s false grant applications

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WISH) — Purdue University will pay nearly $1 million in fines after it was discovered an associate professor falsified multiple grants and papers submitted to federal institutions.

A release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Indiana on Friday says that Dr. Alice Chang, an associate professor of cancer biology and pharmacology at Purdue’s veterinary school, falsified two data released in two published papers and in 17 grant applications.

The original investigation by The Office of Research Integrity says 16 grant applications were falsified rather than 17.

Chang, formerly an associate professor of basic medical sciences, submitted these reports and applications to the National Institutes of Health and the Department of the Army, as well as other institutes, from February 2014 to June 2020.

The original investigation report says Chang “recklessly falsified or fabricated” data from mouse models by “reusing data, with or without manipulation, to represent unrelated experiments from different models with different treatments.”

Two research papers on breast cancer progression included this manipulated data. The funding applications were also for studies on stem cell and cancer research.

After the evidence of Chang’s falsification was presented to the university, the release says Purdue “cooperated and thoroughly investigated the alleged misconduct.” Based on the university’s own investigation, they “agreed with the federal government” that the funding received from the grants was “not deserved and should be returned.”

In total, the university will have to pay $737,391 to resolve the allegations and cover restitution and other damages.

U.S. Attorney Clifford Johnson said in the release, “Academic integrity is the cornerstone of scientific research, and we take our commitment to protect U.S.-funded research grants seriously. Failure to be truthful on an application for U.S.-funded grants is a violation of the law, and my office will continue to make it a priority to pursue cases to recover grant funds awarded through fraud.”

As part of a Voluntary Exclusion Agreement made in December 2022, Chang agreed to exclude herself for a period of 10 years from contracting any U.S. government agency and from any eligibility or involvement in procuring grant funds.

Additionally, Chang will be excluded from advising or consulting with the U.S. Public Health Service and any advisory or peer review committees. Chang would also have to request corrections on her two published papers.