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Findings of Research Misconduct

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Office of the Secretary, HHS.




Notice is hereby given that the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) has taken final action in the following case:

Vipul Bhrigu, PhD, University of Michigan Medical School: Based on the findings of an investigation by the University of Michigan Medical School (UMMS) and additional analysis conducted by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) during its oversight review, ORI found that Vipul Bhrigu, PhD, former postdoctoral fellow, Department of Internal Medicine, UMMS, engaged in research misconduct in research funded by National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health (NIH), grant R01 CA098730-05.

Specifically, ORI found that the Respondent knowingly and intentionally tampered with research materials related to five (5) immunoprecipitation/Western blot experiments and switched the labels on four (4) cell culture dishes for cells used in the same type of experiments to cause false results to be reported in the research record. ORI also found that the Respondent tampered with laboratory research materials by adding ethanol to his colleague's cell culture media, with the deliberate intent to effectuate the death of growing cells, which caused false results to be reported in the research record. ORI has concluded that these acts seriously deviated from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, and/or reporting research.

ORI found that the Respondent's intentional tampering of his colleague's laboratory research constitutes research misconduct as defined by 42 CFR part 93. ORI determined that the Respondent engaged in a pattern of dishonest conduct through the commission of multiple acts of data falsification. ORI also determined that the subterfuge in which he freely engaged for several months constitutes an aggravating factor. The Respondent attempted to mislead the University of Michigan (UM) police by initially denying involvement in the tampering and refusing to accept responsibility for this misconduct. The Respondent eventually made an admission only after the UM police informed him that his actions in the laboratory had been videotaped. This dishonest conduct established the Respondent's lack of present responsibility to be a steward of Federal funds (2 CFR 376 et seq.; 42 CFR 93.408).

The following administrative actions have been implemented for a period of three (3) years, beginning on April 7, 2011:

(1) Dr. Bhrigu is debarred from eligibility for any contracting or subcontracting with any agency of the United States Government and from eligibility for, or involvement in, nonprocurement programs of the United States Government, referred to as “covered transactions,” pursuant to HHS' Implementation of OMB Start Printed Page 23600Guidelines to Agencies on Governmentwide Debarment and Suspension (2 CFR 376 et seq.); and

(2) Dr. Bhrigu is prohibited from serving in any advisory capacity to the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS), including but not limited to service on any PHS advisory committee, board, and/or peer review committee, or as a consultant.

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Director, Division of Investigative Oversight, Office of Research Integrity, 1101 Wootton Parkway, Suite 750, Rockville, MD 20852, (240) 453-8800.

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John Dahlberg,

Director, Division of Investigative Oversight, Office of Research Integrity.

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[FR Doc. 2011-10150 Filed 4-26-11; 8:45 am]