Search words: Anil Potti, Duke University
Very good Zachary and Chronicle. This is an important angle that has emerged through your original reporting; I have not seen this anywhere else. Cheers!
I find it interesting that while Duke University refuses to cut its ties with Potti, keeping him on the payroll but suspended from having to do any work until further review of his scientific "discoveries," two health care companies have thrown him overboard.
As for CancerGuide, Vice Dean Michael Cuffe told the Chronicle that Duke has been working to divest itself -- in the paper's words -- "since allegations against Potti emerged in July."
That's not when the allegations arose at all. They have been around for four years, ignored by our administration.
This is another example of spin from Dr Cuffe, who has a vast personal stake in the career of Potti because last winter he signed off on a Duke report that declared Potti's research valid, and if it turns out to be bum, Cuffe is going to look very very bad.
The precise conflict of interest that is compelling Duke to sell its stake in CancerGuide now... was present when Cuffe signed off on the review of Potti... and no one in our administration paid any attention to it then.
The conflict arises because if the Potti "discoveries" are valid, CancerGuide will be worth a fortune, receiving licensing fees from every patient who gets a test to determine what chemotherapy will work best. One estimate: 700,000 tests a year.
Duke thus has a vested interest in seeing Potti's work sustained -- and should not have done the investigation it did last winter in-house.
Fact Checker has been trying to get information on our stake in CancerGuide -- how much the equity is worth, what the fee per test may be, or at least, what number we have given people to whom we have tried to sell our equity in CancerGuide.
I regret to inform Loyal Readers that neither Rose Ritts, PhD, executive director of licensing and ventures, nor Michael Schoenfeld, university mouthpiece, have responded to e-mail requests from a Deputy Fact Checker. When Chancellor Dzau announced the sale of our stake as well as other Potti-related actions, he promised "transparency." With their refusal to even acknowledge e-mail, Ritts and Schoenfeld are right in Dzau's face.
✔All of this points out the need for an investigation of the actions of our administration in response to the Potti crisis. There must be accountability as well as transparency.
✔And all this talk about the value of CancerGuide points to the profit motive that continues to emerge bigger and bigger in medical research. When federal funds are used, as they were for Potti's research, when a charity like the American Cancer Society supports Potti's research, the discoveries should be in the public domain, and people in desperate need both in the USA and around the world should not be zonked with heavy fees to use the discoveries.
And to keep the record straight. The Chronicle says there are investigations into Potti's credentials and research. That's two investigations. Apparently there is a third, into "faculty misconduct." And Fact checker has been unable to find out what that's about but I assume it is different from lying on the resume or faking scientific results.
Have a good day. FC!