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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Poehlman Sentenced to 1 Year of Prison
28 June 2006 (All day)
Researcher Eric Poehlman was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison today for making a false statement on a federal grant application in 1999. The action by U.S. District Judge William Sessions in Burlington, Vermont, ends the most extensive case of scientific misconduct in the history of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Experts say the case marks the first time a U.S. scientist will serve jail time for research misconduct not linked to fatalities.
Poehlman admitted in a plea agreement last year to falsifying 15 federal grant applications in addition to as many as 10 articles beginning in 1992 and spanning a decade (Science, 25 March 2005, p. 1851) while he was a scientist at the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington and, before then, the University of Maryland, Baltimore. The work involved obesity, metabolism, and menopause. Eight journals have run retractions of his papers, including the Annals of Internal Medicine. More than 200 other articles he authored remain in the literature. Prosecutors said that Poehlman made what a clerk called "factual misstatements" in an earlier federal hearing; that offense worsened the sentence.
In a letter to the judge earlier this month, Poehlman explained that he was "motivated by my own desire to advance as a respected scientist" and added that he was "ashamed of myself for falsifying and fabricating data. ... I believed that because the research questions I had framed were legitimate and worthy of study, it was okay to misrepresent 'minor' pieces of data to increase the odds that the grant would be awarded."
Poehlman faced up to 5 years in jail and has already paid a $180,000 fine. He has also been barred for life from receiving federal research funding.
The first questions about Poehlman's conduct were raised by a 24-year-old research assistant in Poehlman's lab at the University of Vermont. The university found falsifications in three papers, and a 2-year probe by NIH uncovered the rest of the crimes. A university review of Poehlman's scientific work at the University of Montreal, which he joined in 2001, found no wrongdoing in work he'd done there.
A number of scientists joined his friends in appealing to the judge for leniency. "I do believe he still has a great deal to offer the scientific community," wrote Ross Andersen, an obesity expert at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.