For the third time this year, a faculty member at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has been found to have committed scientific research fraud.
This comes on the heels of a massive research-funding fraud lawsuit that UAB settled with the federal government for $3.4 million in 2005. A whistleblower in that case, a forensic accountant, estimated the actual fraud to be about $600 million.
The latest case also comes on the heels of reports that multiple UAB physicians are involved in a physical-therapy company (with Homewood attorney Rob Riley, son of Governor Bob Riley), which faces charges in federal court that it has practiced health-care fraud.
All of the incidents of fraud either started or continued under the leadership of current UAB President Carol Garrison. The most recent incident comes roughly three weeks after UAB announced that Dr. Robert Rich, dean of the School of Medicine, was stepping down.
We speculated at the time that something serious probably was behind Rich's decision. Today's news definitely is serious--but it is far from the only major problem that exists in UAB's biomedical enterprise.
H.M. Krishna Murthy, who worked in the Center for Biophysical Sciences and Engineering, is the latest UAB researcher to have problems with fraud. The Birmingham News reports that UAB has asked that nine of Murthy's research papers be retracted because his experimental findings appear to be false or fabricated. The Journal of Biological Chemistry already has retracted one of Murthy's papers.
In July, UAB researchers Juan R. Contreras and Judith M. Thomas were barred from receiving grants and contracts after falsifying results from animal studies.
Contreras and Thomas no longer work at UAB, and Murthy left the university in February 2009.