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Duke University pays $112m to settle faked research lawsuit

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Christian Fernsby |
Duke University
America   Duke receives millions of dollars in funding from NIH and the EPA

Duke University has agreed to pay the government $112.5 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act.


Duke University did that by submitting applications and progress reports that contained falsified research on federal grants to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Justice Department announced.

Duke is a private university located in Durham, North Carolina.

Duke receives millions of dollars in funding from NIH and the EPA for hundreds of grants each year.

The settlement resolves allegations that between 2006 and 2018, Duke knowingly submitted and caused to be submitted claims to the NIH and to the EPA that contained falsified or fabricated data or statements in thirty (30) grants, causing the NIH and EPA to pay out grants funds they otherwise would not have.

Specifically, the United States contends that the results of certain research related to mice conducted by a Duke research technician in its Airway Physiology Laboratory, as well as statements based on those research results, were falsified and/or fabricated.

The allegations were originally brought in a lawsuit filed by Joseph Thomas, a former Duke employee, under the /qui tam/, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private individuals to sue on behalf of the government and share in any recovery.

The Act permits the government to intervene in and take over the whistleblower’s suit, or, as in this case, for the whistleblower to pursue the action on the government’s behalf.

Mr. Thomas will receive $33,750,000 from the settlement.

The investigation and settlement in this matter were the result of a coordinated effort by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, the U.S.

Attorney’s Offices for the Middle District of North Carolina and the Western District of Virginia, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, and the Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General.


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