The federal office that guards against scientific misdeeds in biomedical research has a new director. David E. Wright, a historian of science at Michigan State University in East Lansing, will take the helm of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Research Integrity (ORI) in January.
ORI carries out misconduct policies governing research funded by the Public Health Service, which includes the National Institutes of Health. The office runs education programs and also reviews universities' investigations of research misconduct—defined as falsification, fabrication, and plagiarism. It can recommend penalties to HHS, such as barring a guilty investigator from receiving federal funding.
ORI has lacked a permanent director since September 2009, when director Chris Pascal retired after 13 years. Acting director Don Wright's (no relation) other job is HHS deputy assistant secretary for health care quality. Having a permanent director who can focus his full attention on agency "is very important," says Nicholas Steneck, a science historian at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and former consultant to ORI.