Administrators trip over each other in telling us about Potti

Search words: Duke University, Anil Potti

✔Fact Checker here.

The Chronicle reported this morning on Duke's finding lies on Potti's resume. The following is written in response.

Let's start by comparing President Brodhead's statement to the Herald-Sun editorial board ten days ago on Duke's hiring process with the statement furnished by Mr Schoenfeld, quoted in today's Chronicle.

Brodhead: "The university will in general continue to accept credentials on their face as presented by the people who present them... We're not going to start running background checks and police checks on everybody... You can't reasonably do that, nor is there a need to."

Schoenfeld: “In terms of faculty, [hiring] is a very thorough and rigourous process and involves extensive checking of references, conversations with people who worked with faculty members and reviewing work they do.”

Do you believe Brodhead? Do you believe Schoenfeld? Or do you believe neither? Do these people think that we don't remember what they say one day to the next? Boy am I angry.

This is indicative of the way that the Brodhead administration is turning its handling of the Potti mess into a crisis of confidence, a crisis as big as the one involving Potti himself.

Now let's move on to the pledge that the investigation of Potti's resume would be done with "transparency." Pledge after pledge, "transparency." Here is what it yielded:

A) Dancing figures in charge of the investigation. The press release says the investigation was led by Lange from the start. From the start. That does not seem to be correct. Earlier Dr Cuffe, vice dean of the medical school was the point man. He burped a few words for the news media several times, no mention of Lange. There was a conflict of interest in Cuffe's doing this; not Dr. Cuffe's conflict, but Duke's. Rather than getting into intricate details on that now, Loyal Readers please wait for the comprehensive conflict of interest report that FC is preparing. Soon. Cuffe just disappeared off the radar.

B) Led by Lange, but whom was he leading? We have one or more anonymous administrators, and maybe other people, sitting in judgment. They won't tell us.

C) We do not know what rules they operated under. If there was a panel, was there a vote by majority, super majority or did it have to be unanimous. Did the panel make a decision, or did it make a recommendation? The investigation was led by Lange, but who made the decisions, as leading the probe does not necessarily mean making the decision. A Deputy Fact Checker asked all this and there were no answers.

D) We have a decision that unspecified parts of Potti's resumes are lies, and can't find out which parts. Transparency!! The press release used the words "issues of substantial concern." That means LIES.

E) Schoenfeld said Potti is receiving "corresponding sanction." In other words, they won't tell us what the penalty is either. We conclude Potti is still employed, since he is still on the payroll, raising the question of what in hell a Duke faculty member must do to get canned.

F) As for the press release itself. Using the oldest trick in the PR handbook, Schoenfeld waited until late Friday afternoon to issue it, at a time when he figured reporters and editors were in weekend mode and wouldn't ask any pesky questions. Mr. Schoenfeld, be advised you did not fool Fact Checker.

G) Anyone wanting to read the press release, please be advised that Duke did not put it on its home page. It did not put it on the home page of the PR department. There is a box on the PR home page that lists six of the most important recent news releases; it is not there either. There is very faint type that says "more releases" and if you click on that, and then scroll down, you will find an "update." Next time you see a jury verdict in a criminal trial in the newspaper, just regard it as an update. Mr. Schoenfeld, update is a rather obfuscating way of saying we caught the dude red-handed.


✔It is now appropriate to tell you more about Mr. Brodhead's interview with the Herald Sun. He cautioned against making judgments on Potti, saying some allegations will be true, some will be false, and then there will be "intermediate explanations."

You still have not seen those words in a Chronicle news story, only FC posts! Intermediate explanations, so much for the honor code!! I wonder if any of the decisions that Lange made in his report on Potti's credentials involved "intermediate explanations."

Now, Chronicle, you have to be very careful with the words "external" and "internal" investigations. Potti embraces four investigations

✔A) Last winter Duke held an in-house inquiry into Potti's science and cleared him. Below you will see that another inquiry into Potti's science is also referred to as an external investigation.

Loyal Readers know FC took the wraps off off last winter's report that Duke refused to release, naming names that Duke would not give us. Providing quotes. Remember these quotes, I shall return to them in a minute.

✔B) Duke began an "internal" investigation into Potti's credentials. That's what today's Chronicle report is about.

✔C) Duke is trying to land an august body with impeccable credentials for an "external" investigation into Potti's science. Trust me: if you think the resume was bad, the science is going to be worse. Worse. As a researcher at the renowned M D Anderson Cancer Center, U of Texas put it upon discovering that nothing added up, "there won't be a charitable explanation," meaning no accident, no error, just fraud.

The final external report will conflict directly with the quotes in A) above, and provide deep deep embarrassment to this university. Mark my words. Nothing like you have seen before. Pledging transparency, Chancellor Dzau says he won't tell us who may do this external investigation.

✔✔✔✔D) Schoenfeld's PR handout late Friday afternoon made reference for the first time to a "faculty misconduct" investigation, claiming Duke immediately began it. One problem: in outlining in a comprehensive way Duke's response to Potti in an e-mail to the medical faculty on August 26, one that was later made available to all Duke employees but no one else, Dzau did not refer to this at all. I can assure you of only one thing in the "faculty misconduct" investigation: it will be fully transparent.

✔As for the basic Chronicle report, two observations:

A) You could have mentioned in your list three different dates for Potti's medical degree in India. Some Loyal Readers have been questioning if his training is the equivalent of an MD as we know it in the US. The India medical school does not respond to FC.

B) You could have mentioned his applying to the U of North Dakota to be an intern and resident, but never mentioning he was then doing that precise work at a hospital in India.

✔Also with reference to the Chronicle, at least, welcome to the club of those of us who have been on this all along. Today's report merely scratches the surface, and Loyal Readers await far more.

One of the most urgent angles involves 109 cancer patients -- most with breast cancer, some with lung cancer. While Duke suspended NEW enrollments in Dr Potti's clinical trials... STOP RIGHT THERE. I will no longer refer to these things by the obfuscating words clinical trials. These are experiments with human beings!!!!

While Duke suspended NEW enrollments, 109 people who had previously been enrolled in Potti's human experiments were allowed to remain. These were 109 desperately ill people, coming to Duke for help, relying on its reputation, giving up other options to treat their cancer. They got Potti for their doctor and bunk for their medicine.

Has Duke even had the decency to keep them updated?

Chronicle please put this on the top of your agenda as lives hang in the balance.

If ANYONE has ANY CONFIDENCE whatsoever in Duke's many investigations of Potti, you can have my tickets in Cameron to the Carolina game!

✔Thanks for reading.
Email Duke.Fact.Checker@gmail.com

1 comment:

  1. Regarding the question of whether Potti's MBBS degree is equivalent to an MD: it is accepted in the US as being so. And in fact, holders of the degree are entitled to refer to themselves as MDs. (The Wikpedia article on 'Doctor of Medicine' has some discussion, with references, on this.)

    You may or may not think that that's reasonable, but it's what the medical profession has chosen to do.

    Good work on your coverage of the scandal.


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