Fact Checker has learned that Dr. Joseph Nevins -- co-author with Dr Anil Potti of many important cancer journal articles -- has asked the Journal of Clinical Oncology to retract the key paper in their research.
This is the worst possible news: Potti's research is as fake as his credentials!! Devastating news for the University and its crown jewel, Duke Health.
Nevins, Barbara Levine Professor of Breast Cancer Genomics and director of the Center for Applied Genomics and Technology at DUKE, has been mum so far as scandal engulfed the work that he and Potti did. He did not comment publicly when Duke found this fall that Potti had big lies on his resume, including a faked Rhodes Scholarship.
But tonight, the bombshell. Nevins put it all on the table in a letter to the editor of the cancer journal.
The key Nevins-Potti article is a 2007 paper entitled "Pharmacogenomic Strategies Provide a Rational Approach to the Treatment of Cisplatin-Resistant Patients With Advanced Cancer."
Nevins: the data we presented in the paper does not support the conclusions that we gave identifying thru genome study what medicines will work best in specific patients with specific cancers.
That is a paraphrase. No direct quotes are yet available.
Some of the same data that Nevins denounced tonight was used by Duke last winter in a internal investigation (with outside consultants). That review cleared Potti!!!!
FC has reported -- but Duke has not confirmed -- that its secret investigation was led by Dr. John Harrelson, professor of orthopedic surgery and associate professor of pathology. A Deputy Fact Checker reports he is a double Dukie, Trinity '61 and MD '64, who also stayed on at Duke to train on the House Staff. He is now retired.
The heat will be on him and others, including Vice Deans reporting to Medical School dean Nancy Andrews, who signed off on the Harrelson report, to explain how they managed to endorse Potti's research when they held their supposedly thorough review.
Tonight, there is still the mystery -- why Potti's data could not be duplicated. What reason does Nevins believe? Error? Fraud? It's hold your breath time.
To its credit, Duke immediately notified the outside experts conducting a new, complete, unfettered review of this mess. The experts are from the prestigious Institute of Medicine, "an independent non profit that works works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public."
Established in 1970, the IOM is the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, which was chartered under President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. FC has previously expressed confidence in a rigorous, no-stone-unturned review, and endorsed the efforts of Duke chancellor Dzau to bring in the IOM.
FC has learned that beyond the one journal article that Nevins asked to be retracted, he is scrutinizing other research involving Potti. At this hour nothing is known about the reaction of the string of other people who joined Potti in his various articles, or in his lab.
This would seem to be a vindication of the work of researchers at MD Anderson Comprehensive Cancer Center, U of Texas, Houston, who have been questioning Potti for years. More on this later. These researchers, who stood steadfast in the face of assault by Duke, are heroes!
How will Duke by responding to this latest crisis? FC information:
FC has learned first, it will keep Potti on the payroll, suspended from the faculty, from research and seeing patients until all investigations are over. The Institute of Medicine Review is expected to take 18 months.Then there is a separate Duke review of faculty misconduct.
This clown should be fired forthwith. If the administration cannot bring itself to do it, the Trustees should direct it. The faculty of this school should revolt. Any stakeholder who loves Duke should revolt.
What about Potti's patients? While new patients were barred, previously enrolled patients are continuing to be treated according to Potti's bum science!!! Expect Duke -- facing HUGE HUGE malpractice lawsuits -- to contend "we do not believe that patients were endangered through their participation in these studies."
Fact Checker and Deputies are assigned. Keep watching this space for developments.