Ominous: Potti scandal mushrooms around world. Duke ducks Associated Press

Fact Checker here.

✔✔✔✔✔ Duke allows clinical trials headed by Potti to continue -- suspending only new enrollments. 109 people are getting chemotherapy specified by Potti and his team.

✔✔✔✔✔ Who's Who of cancer researchers from around the world demand National Cancer Institute halt Duke. Text of their letter reprinted below.

✔✔✔ Duke officials duck Associated Press as Potti scandal spreads internationally.

Oh my fellow Dukies, my fellow Dukies. What a mess.

This story is exploding, giving international tarnish to our great university. And the early indications of how this is being handled on campus are not building confidence in either Brodhead nor Dzau. Read on.

When we first got word that Potti faked his Rhodes Scholarship, Duke put him on administrative leave. Later, feeling the first heat, Duke announced it was suspending new enrollments -- emphasis on the word new -- in two lung cancer and one breast cancer studies that have Potti as lead investigator. He is very well financed -- $750,000 from the American Cancer Society alone.

Loyal Readers may recall the Fact Checker post which stated that I did not know how to read the word "new," if patients who had been previously enrolled were still involved.

This morning, the answer:

✔✔✔✔✔ We now learn that 109 people who were previously enrolled in Potti's studies are still getting chemotherapy treatments according to protocols he specified!!!

✔✔✔✔✔ In the next post, I provide the text of an extraordinary letter from a Who's Who of cancer researchers demanding the National Cancer Institute stop Duke!!! Immediately.

✔✔In addition, The Who's Who reveal that when a 2007 study by Potti was questioned, Duke stonewalled. Their letter explains a panel of outside experts "uniformly stated they were not given sufficient information to confirm the validity of the models."

✔✔✔✔✔Moreover, the Who's Who letter introduces a new Duke name to the scandal -- Dr. Joseph Nevins -- mentioning him in the same breath as Potti.

Potti is an associate professor. Nevins is Barbara Levine Professor Breast Cancer Genomics and Director of the Center for Applied Genomics and Technology. Heavyweight. Please read the entire Who's Who letter on this very sensitive matter.

✔If all this were not enough, on Friday one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world, Lancet, published in Britain, launched an investigation into a the 2007 article with Potti's by-line. As referenced above, this dealt with genetic factors and how they may influence the effect different kinds of chemotherapy have on breast cancers.

As the editors put it with typical British flair, "Pending investigation and clarification, we now issue an expression of concern about the article."

In addition to the comments by the Lancet editors, we have 15 co-authors of the article going public to express "grave concerns about the validity of their report in light of evolving events." Read on.

✔These 15 say they tried repeatedly in recent days to reach Potti but could not, which is understandable. And they tried to reach others at Duke -- not identified -- and the 15 co-authors state they "had been ignored." That is not understandable, and in fact it is an outrage.

✔✔✔The Associated Press story Friday evening included this line: "Duke officials did not reply to e-mails or phone calls requesting comment." That was included in the AP story that was sent world-wide.

That is a damn outrage. It also violates rule #1 for handling a crisis which is come clean.

Fact Checker has just gone to the Duke PR website. 5 AM Saturday. There is not one word about Potti. No news release. Nothing reassuring to our community, our patients, or to people around the world.

Nor do the links to recent articles published about Duke include any of this news. It's all Rah-Rah.

Rule #1 is squeaky clean. Not just clean.

The News and Observer is out with a story quoting one Duke doctor, and I give you three relevant paragraphs:

..... Dr. Michael Cuffe, vice president of medical affairs at Duke, said Friday that the university's investigation into the allegations about Potti and his work would be "open and transparent."

......He said issues about Potti's resume may be resolved by next week, while the allegations of scientific misconduct would take longer to examine. He said the university has contacted federal research agencies and other funding organizations to lead the investigation.

...."There are some issues of data integrity that have been alleged, but also complex issues as to the statistics and nature of the science, and that is different," Cuffe said. "Scientific debate is different from misconduct. And I think we need to resolve both. Some sort of national body devoid of Duke would help us all reach a conclusion so all of us can move forward."

End of excerpt.

✔✔✔ RX from Fact Checker. Dick Brodhead, show your face. This is fully as important as the lacrosse crisis or the fiscal meltdown. Show leadership. Let's hear about your involvement and your actions.

Chancellor Dzau, I know nothing about Dr Cuffe. But you need to take control, not put him out in the public eye as in today's News and Observer.

Mr President, Dr Chancellor, Involve outsiders with impeccable credentials authorized to delve everywhere and bring full illumination to what has happened. Do this now. Now. Grasp this.

✔And finally the paragraph some Loyal Readers and Fascist Critics have been waiting for: Fact Checker acknowledges all errors and makes corrections. Thus, you will find both Patti and Potti in my original post. It is not my biggest goof, but it did occur! My apologies.

Fact Checker. On duty morning and night.

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