The ordeal isn't over for biologist Luk van Parijs, who was fired by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2005 after admitting to fabricating research data. Yesterday, Van Parijs, 40, pleaded guilty in a U.S. District Court in Boston to one count of making a false statement on a federal grant application.
Van Parijs worked in the field of RNA interference. MIT launched an investigation after his students and postdocs raised questions about his research and found that he had fabricated and falsified data in grant applications, submitted manuscripts, and a published paper. In 2009, the federal Office of Research Integrity found that he had also falsified data in other publications.
The U.S. attorney's office in Boston announced yesterday that Van Parijs will be sentenced 14 June and that he could receive up to 5 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. The government alleges that he falsely claimed to have developed a specific transgenic mouse and to have obtained certain results from an experiment. According to a plea agreement, the U.S. attorney will not recommend a fine, but Van Parijs has agreed to pay MIT $61,117 in restitution.