2nd prof officially linked to Potti probe

✔Fact Checker here, running up a big satellite internet bill. Oh well. UPDATE is necessary.


Potti scandal spreads like cancer, with Chancellor
Dzau confirming investigation embraces Dr. Joseph
Nevins, laboratory director.

Dzau concedes earlier probe, finished in January,
was limited, declares there is need for "broader review."

Chancellor talks of investigation of "science,"
with no reference to administrative actions
also being questioned..

DUKE PR hides Dzau announcement. Only medical
faculty, then employees are told
despite pledge of "transparency."

Chancellor for Health Affairs Dr Victor Dzau -- with President Brodhead still silent -- sent an e-mail to the medical faculty on Thursday talking about Duke's "response to allegations regarding Dr. Potti."

That may have been the trigger for Duke's belated action, but Dzau also says Duke's decision to turn the developing scandal over to outside investigators embraces "the science conducted by Drs. Potti and Nevins." For the first time, the university has officially linked the two names.

Loyal Readers know of course that Fact Checker has been reporting that Duke was hiding behind the news media's splash of charges that Potti faked a Rhodes Scholarship, and the status of his co-researcher Nevins was never made clear.

Dr. Joseph Nevins. The Barbara Levine Professor of Breast Cancer Genomics and Director of the Center for Applied Genomics and Technology. He is Potti's rabbi, shepherding his rapid advance to associate professor and high profile.

Nevins' name appears on many grant applications with Potti. A list of authors on Potti's papers reveals Nevins was his partner and unless he never saw primary data or steps in its analysis, he surely must have had suspicions about the errors as they occurred repeatedly.

Complaints about their research surfaced last fall and Duke did an internal review. This is now surrounded by secrecy -- as the Chronicle reported Dzau is even refusing to reveal the members of the internal panel that considered the Nevins-Potti research. Fact Checker is at work on this.

Dzai -- for the first time disclosing limitations -- said that this review "was designed to specifically answer two questions that we believed to be at the heart of the questions about patient safety raised by the outside critics. Given the continued concerns and the demand by external scientists for a comprehensive review that goes well beyond the scope of the previous review, we are convinced that there is the need for a broader review, conducted by a major independent research agency."

The "critics" as Dzau labeled them, were some of the most distinguished people in the genome world, raising concerns beyond patient safety though that was central. They also warned about broken institutional integrity.

Dzau also revealed Duke was going to stick to pure research, not the profit-making sale of its discoveries. "In order to remove any possible appearance of conflict of interest, Duke has decided to permanently divest all equity and potential royalties associated with this science that had been licensed to an outside company. Although there are appropriate and comprehensive conflict of interest management plans in place for inventors, Duke's decision is to completely relieve itself of any perceived conflict or pressure."

It's not known what the value -- or more accurately -- what the potential value could be of capital gains on the growth of companies (equity) and a continuing cut of sales (royalties), but it could be very considerable. Duke like all other institutions has been ramping up its efforts to capitalize on its discoveries.

In this instance, Dzau possibily is talking about a company called ExpressionAnalysis, which Nevins controls. It is paid to provide services for the Nevins-Potti research.

And it's not clear what Dzau means by "this science," whether the phrase embraces just the genome effort of Nevins-Potti, or whether other research projects will be affected as well.

Aside from saying that among factors motivating Duke was "concern for the well being of our patients," there was no specific attention at all paid to 107 or 109 people who are still receiving chemotherapy in response to the "findings" of Nevins and Potti.

A Duke researcher put it this way, anonymously, on the NY Times blog: How many patients with lung cancer suffered unnecessary pneumothoraces (and perhaps death) in order to obtain the tissue Potti needed for his "science." How many of the 107 or 109 patients at Duke getting chemotherapy because of Potti should be receiving another therapy.

The Nevins-Potti research involves two trials for lung cancer, one paid for by a drug maker and one by the American Cancer Society. A third trial, paid for by the Department of Defense, involves breast cancer.

As for spreading the word of Chancellor Dzau's announcements: he sent an e-mail blast to the medical faculty on Thursday. Duke PR waited until Friday afternoon to post it on the employee website "Duke Today." Duke PR made no further distribution to other stakeholders in Duke, nor to the public in a press release.

One of the oldest tricks in PR is to release news you would rather bury on a Friday afternoon in the summer when people are more interested in getting away. Or to not release the news, rather hiding it in a corner of your web-page, giving you cover later on to say the news was available.

Fact Checker has previously documented other PR actions related to this scandal.

✔Thank you for reading Fact Checker.

Previous essays: http://dukefactchecker.blogspot.com/
Email Duke.Fact.Checker@gmail.com


Potti scandal: Duke caves, to appoint outside investigators.

Fact Checker here. Thank you Chronicle for staying atop this scandal even though the paper is on vacation. Good work.

✔The headline this afternoon is that Duke caved.

After toughing it out as The Cancer Letter carried major disclosures on May 14, June 18 and July 19; as the leading British medical journal Lancet expressed no confidence in an article by Potti that it had published; and as a Who's Who in the genome community world-wide demanded action, Duke has finally bowed and is turning to an outside authority to investigate the science in this sordid mess. More about this in a moment.

As for Potti's credentials, that mechanical job of seeing if he is all he claimed to be falls internally to Provost Lange. There's no mention of Dr. Michael Cuffe, vice dean for medical affairs who last week was handling this, and who predicted an outcome by tomorrow. Fact Checker is told one reason for the delay is the need for an intense review of one of Potti's most basic claims: that he has an MD degree from a school in India. And the reason Cuffe has fallen out of sight is that he signed off on a Duke review of Potti's work in January and he may well be in the vortex of the storm.

Still, Duke certainly knows the Rhodes Trust has stated Potti never held one of its coveted Rhodes Scholarships. Duke surely knows that Potti claimed that at the same time as the Rhodes, he was serving a fellowship at a Australian university that does not exist. Duke surely knows the professor who allegedly mentored the fellowship says he had not even heard of Potti.

These are not reasons for suspension, which is Potti's current status.

They are reasons for immediate dismissal, and on Tuesday rumors circulated that this morning Duke was going to do just that. Did the university backpedal? What happened behind the closed doors of Allen Building and in the executive corridor at Duke Health?

Just as Cuffe is not mentioned, Fact Checker is scratching and asking where is Brodhead, given brief passing mention by the Provost this morning. One source says there is determination to keep his profile low, particularly in light of his 0-2 record in handling the last two crises. This includes the financial meltdown which drew two landmark Chronicle editorials last semester blistering him for his lack of leadership. And it includes the hoax by a prostitute and prosecutor that enmeshed the lacrosse team, which Brodhead handled so poorly that he himself stepped forward to apologize.

It's a risky strategy, for it points anew to lack of leadership by Brodhead. Still, the source said, Duke prefers the risk to another apology.

Words quoted in the Chronicle story are relevant here: "It could have been the problem of a rogue researcher based on silence—now it's the problem of the rogue researcher and the administrators that protected him,” Goldberg said. "This is a question of the administration. They are taking a problem that they could have solved, and turning it into a problem that is structural to the institution."

✔As Loyal Readers know, the phony Rhodes Scholarship cornered all the headlines. But that's not what this is about. It's about an associate professor and rising academic star who Duke put on its fastest track, a man who brought in tons of cancer research money, a man featured in Duke videos about its medicine, a man fudging his science and saying he had cracked the Holy Grail: he had found in DNA and RNA how to tailor for each individual what chemotherapy would work most effectively and how doses of the horrible cocktails could be kept low.

Duke conducted an internal review last fall after the first suspension of Potti's work. It cleared him and that review is drawing top to bottom criticism. The current suspension is the second.

Fact Checker has great faith in Chancellor Dzau, but does not follow two statements quoted in the Chronicle today:

First, “We want to be transparent, open and supportive—and objective, most importantly,” Dzau said. Supportive of whom?

Second, the Chancellor said he could not release names of Duke people involved in the first review of Potti's work because of the "law" of "attorney-client privilege." Huh? This totally baffles Fact Checker, and it looms large as Duke formulates two new investigations. Some citations please Victor. What is this law.

✔Dzau -- and the silent Brodhead too -- need to affirm that they are not only hiring an outside agency with sterling credentials to investigate, but that the agency will get full access, that it will be allowed to take its investigation in every direction, allowed to reach deep into the administrative fortress, and that its recommendations will be followed.

We are facing a pattern of fraud that Duke should have captured long before today -- even if committed by a single individual. Names are starting to appear: Dr. Joseph Nevins. the Barbara Levine Professor of Breast Cancer Genomics and Director of the Center for Applied Genomics and Technology. Heavyweight.

He is Potti's rabbi and his name appears on many grant applications with Potti. A list of authors on Potti's papers reveals Nevins was his partner and unless he never saw primary data or steps in its analysis, he surely must have had suspicions about the errors as they occurred repeatedly.

And he owns ExpressionAnalysis, a company believed to be contractually providing services for Potti's trials.

There will be a conga line before we are done. How could this happen? And should some people who apparently stepped aside have prevented it? Dr. Mike West, Dr. John Byrd, Dr. Neil Kay. What did they know, if anything. When did they know it?

Oh yes, who should vet the resumes of professors and the applications of students, for that matter.

There is a specter hanging over the Potti case -- and that's Duke's handing of bum science charges against Homme Hellinga, James B. Duke Professor of Biochemistry, still an active member of our faculty. An academic star, winner of the $2.5 million Director's Pioneer award from the National Institutes of Health, there have been serious doubts since 2007 about his design of an enzyme. A Duke Health internal review continues, and Dzau's PR man told the Chronicle last April, “We trust that you and your readers will understand that it would be inappropriate for Duke to comment on any specific proceedings due to confidentiality and other restrictions.”

A similar dally in the Potti case would be disastrous.

✔And now a word about the cancer patients in Potti's studies. As Loyal Readers realize, Duke has not ended Potti's work -- only suspended new enrollments in his trials. This leaves 107 or 109 people who are getting treatment based upon Potti's discoveries -- and that's pretty scary.

Fact Checker had hoped Chancellor Dzau would address this. For the only person who has so far is the aforementioned Dr. Cuffe who of course has a lot at risk since he signed off on Duke's first investigation into Potti.

Your Fact Checker is haunted. A Duke researcher put it this way, anonymously, on the NY Times blog: How many patients with lung cancer suffered unnecessary pneumothoraces (and perhaps death) in order to obtain the tissue Potti needed for his "science." How many of the 107 or 109 patients at Duke getting chemotherapy because of Potti should be receiving another therapy.

And yes there will be lawsuits. Years of them.

✔Lastly, Loyal Readers, I want to comment on transparency. Everyone's talking about it. Duke PR is not doing it.

Each day Duke PR posts links to news coverage of Duke. But not on the Potti affair.

And yesterday, after Fact Checker pointed out one link to a CNN broadcast, PR apparently censored it for... it disappeared.

The headline "Crisis management 101: What can BP CEO Hayward's mistakes teach us?"

✔Fact Checker is traveling, this post coming from a boat at sea! Lucky me. Special thanks for the efforts of the Deputies in this piece.


Guess what the buffoons put on Duke's website

4:46 PM on Wednesday

I am checking Duke's home page and its PR website to see if there is ANYTHING from Brodhead or Dzau, anything reassuring to stakeholders and patients. Maybe some details about the crisis investigation, the names of the people assigned, their timetable, their authority to obtain full information, maybe a pledge from Brodhead that this will be thorough regardless of the outcome. Maybe a pledge from Dzau that the 107 or 109 people receiving treatment according to the designs of "Doctor" Potti, "MD" will be thoroughly evaluated (possibly by doctors from outside Duke who have nothing to lose) to see if they are on the right course.

Maybe a follow up by Dr Cuffe who promised last week that there would be a conclusion this week on Potti's resume lies, although it would take longer to verify his science and research.

And what do I find. Nothing from Brodhead nor Dzau. But front and center on the PR page there is a link to a CNN story. It's there because a Duke expert is quoted. The headline is rather ironic: "Crisis management 101: What can BP CEO Hayward's mistakes teach us?"


Fact Checker. Traveling but in touch.

Potti - this is second time Duke has suspended his trials. More resume lies listed.

✔Fact Checker here.

An internal investigation is not enough and here is why.

Duke has heard of problems with Potti for the past three years at least. No, no, not only with his resume, but with his science, his methodology, his conclusions.

Fact Checker now knows that late last year, there was a crescendo that caused Duke to stop clinical trials on three of his research programs, two involving lung cancer and one involving breast cancer. In each program, Potti was giving patients chemotherapy -- determining what drugs might work best and in what dosage -- based upon his genome research.

✔✔✔✔✔ In January Duke let these programs resume after an internal review. And these are the precise programs where Duke -- for the second time -- has now suspended new enrollments.

Yes, that's right, a second suspension.

✔✔✔ This means that from last winter's review, a lot of people at Duke -- some very high ranking -- including a secretive investigation board -- have their own reputations at stake.

In an official statement on the winter review, Duke said it had determined Potti's approaches were "viable and likely to succeed.” Duke did not reveal the limited scope of the review -- it did not even look into all major errors that had been called to the university's attention -- nor did Duke report that the review had also led to negative findings.

There is a world-wide tsunami criticizing Duke for its first investigation, at every stage. Not just for failing to find lies on Potti's resume, but for a faulty investigation of the clinical trials. As Mr Goldberg (the Cancer Letter reporter) has stated, "To be credible, the institutional investigation would need to address the role of the Duke administration in restarting the trials last January."

✔Once again, Brodhead just doesn't get it. We no longer have a matter for INTERNAL review, but a need to bring in an OUTSIDE panel with impeccable credentials to investigate this mess and restore confidence in Duke medicine.

We do not need Brodhead's e-mail to speak to us. That's the way he kissed off the Chronicle for this morning's story. We need him to stand before us in person. We need him to answer follow up questions. We need to see his expressions.

Chancellor Dzau should be at his side. One e-mail to his faculty a week ago does not cut it either.

We the stakeholders, we the patients need reassurance.

And I am tired of seeing murky answers about the 107 or 109 people who were enrolled in Potti's trials before NEW enrollments were stopped. They are getting chemotherapy right now -- based upon Potti's determinations in his "studies" on what would be best for them.

Dr. Michael Cuffe, vice dean, medical affairs, says those patients are just fine. Others at major cancer centers have warned of extreme danger.

✔Yes this is the same Cuffe, who along with Sally Kornbluth, vice dean for research, who signed off on the investigation and let the trials resume in January.

Here's another name to watch: Dr. Joseph Nevins. the Barbara Levine Professor of Breast Cancer Genomics and Director of the Center for Applied Genomics and Technology. Heavyweight. His name appeared on many grant applications with Potti, an associate professor.

There are other names too. Potti's website reveals a tight knit family -- they hold holiday parties together, they go out together. And he even lists "alumni." There are several doctors on the entry level at Duke Hospital right now who trained under him who would also be affected if his research empire collapsed, as well it might.

One fear: that Potti will fail in every dimension, and money will dry up for similar projects trying to use genetics to determine what drugs will work best. Important.

It's believed the three trials now on suspension are supported by the American Cancer Society, the Department of Defense (for breast cancer) and a drug company. You know, Duke could always lay out the facts for us instead of needing a Fact Checker to ferret them out.

Oh Brodhead, oh Brodhead.

✔✔✔ Beyond inventing a Rhodes Scholarship (Australia) for himself, Fact Checker can report this morning|

-- That Potti's resume claimed a research fellowship at "Queensland Research Institute" in Australia. This place does not exist.

-- That Porri claimed study under the noted scientist Gordon McLaren at Queensland. McLaren says at the time indicated, he had never heard of Potti. Nor Queensland for that matter, though he did spend a sabbatical at an institution with a name similar in some respects.

-- That Potti stepped on his own tail, this "fellowship" occurring at the same time as his Rhodes Scholarship. He was in two places at the same time.

-- That Potti listed an award from the American Society of Hematology. The Society says this did not occur.

There may be more. This is what Fact Checker can assemble this morning.

Potti states his medical degree is from Christian Medical College in Vellore, India. Yes, I have sent them repeated e-mails. A Loyal Reader has questioned whether this three year program is sufficient for Duke to allow him to wander its halls as a Doctor.

The school says it "seeks to be a witness to the healing ministry of Christ, through excellence in education, service and research."

✔Thank you for reading Fact Checker and caring about Duke.


Potti: Update as of 10 AM Tues 7/27/2010

Loyal Readers have been writing me asking if there has been any official Duke statement from Brodhead or Dzau on Potti.

No. Not at this point. This is a disgrace.

There is even censorship with the PR website which routinely carries links to media coverage of Duke, with no story at all about Potti.

This is a double scandal. Potti first, and the way this is being handled second.

About this blog

This blog became alive again July 1, 2010. Essays that I append to Chronicle articles can be read here. You might want to check the on-line Chronicle archive for the original article as well as comments from others.

Fact Checker essays before July 1, 2010 also appear in this blog -- hit or miss. You can find all of them, however, in the Chronicle archive.



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.

Who's Who from Genetics community demands federal government stop Duke Potti trials

Text of their letter. See next Blog entry for more info.

To: Harold Varmus, NCI

Cc: Otis Brawley ACS; Kim Lyerly, Duke University; John F. Potter, Department of Defense; The Cancer Letter; Don Wright, Office of Research Integrity

Re: Concerns about prediction models used in Duke clinical trials

Dear Dr. Varmus,

We understand that NCI is aware of three cancer clinical trials funded by the Department of Defense and Duke University, based at least in part on results reported in papers by Duke
oncologist and genomics researcher Anil Potti and Joseph Nevins (a list of articles is appended

Drs. Potti, Nevins, and their colleagues have made claims about the ability of RNA expression patterns to predict responses to therapy in cancer patients, and these prediction
models are currently being used in Duke’s clinical trials to help physicians choose the treatments that cancer patients receive.

Recently, published and peer-reviewed re-analyses of the work done by Potti and Nevins revealed serious errors that questioned the validity of the prediction models upon which these ongoing clinical trials are based. This led to a temporary suspension of the trials and a Duke-led
review involving independent statistical experts. However, despite written statements from the external experts, who uniformly stated they were not given sufficient information to confirmthe validity of the models, the trials have been reinitiated.

We, the undersigned, who have followed this debate closely have concluded that the inability of independent experts to substantiate the above researchers’ claims using the researchers’ own data means that it is absolutely premature to use these prediction models to influence the therapeutic options open to cancer patients.

We strongly urge that the clinical trials in question (NCT00509366, NCT00545948,
NCT00636441) be suspended until a fully independent review is conducted of both the clinical trials and of the evidence and predictive models being used to make cancer treatment decisions.

For this to happen, sufficiently detailed data and annotation must be made available for review.

The data should be sufficiently documented for provenance to be assessed (as both gene and sample mislabeling have been documented in these data), and the computer code used to predict which drugs are suitable for particular patients must be made available to allow an independent
group of expert genomic data analysts to assess its validity and reproducibility using the data supplied.

Should the data and analysis presented by Potti, Nevins, and colleagues be validated, it would then, of course, be appropriate to reinitiate the trials. Until that time, however, we believe that the steps outlined in this letter are necessary given the potential of patients being assigned to improper treatment arms in the clinical trials in question and of the associated potential risk posed to these patients.

We are therefore requesting that NCI either intercede directly, or work with other entities with jurisdiction over these trials (e.g. ORI, DoD and Duke University) to ensure that the above requirements are met before these trials are allowed to continue enrolling patients.

Anna E. Barón, Professor, Department of Biostatistics and Informatics, Colorado School of Public Health Director, Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Core, University of Colorado Cancer Center,

Karen Bandeen-Roche, Professor and Chair of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Donald A Berry, Chairman of Department of Biostatistics, Head of Division of Quantitative Sciences, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

Jennifer Bryan, Associate Professor, Department of Statistics and the Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia

Vincent J. Carey, Associate Professor of Medicine (Biostatistics), Harvard Medical School

Kathryn Chaloner, Professor and Head Department of Biostatistics, College of Public Health, Iowa State University

Mauro Delorenzi, Head Bioinformatics Core Facility (BCF), Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB)

Bradley Efron, Professor of Statistics, Stanford University

Robert C. Elston, Professor and Chair, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Debashis Ghosh, Professor of Statistics and Public Health Sciences, Penn State University

Judith D. Goldberg, Professor and Director of Biostatistics, New York University School of Medicine

Steve Goodman, Professor of Oncology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Frank E Harrell Jr., Professor of Biostatistics, Vanderbilt University

Susan Galloway Hilsenbeck, Professor Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center and Dan L Duncan Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine

Wolfgang Huber, Research Group Leader, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) Heidelberg, Germany

Rafael A. Irizarry, Professor of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Christina Kendziorski, Associate Professor of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Michael R. Kosorok, Professor and Chair of Biostatistics and Professor of Statistics and Operations Research, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thomas A. Louis, Professor of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

J. S. Marron, Amos Hawley Distinguished Professor of Statistics and Operations Research, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Michael Newton, Professor of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics and of Statistics, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Michael Ochs, Associate Professor of Oncology Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

John Quackenbush, Professor of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health

Gary L. Rosner, Director, Research Program in Quantitative Sciences and Division of Oncology Biostatistics/Bioinformatics, The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins

Ingo Ruczinski, Associate Professor of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Steven Skates, Associate Professor of Medicine (Biostatistics), Harvard Medical School

Terence P Speed, Professor and Head, Bioinformatics Division, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

John D. Storey, Associate Professor of Genomics, Princeton University

Zoltan Szallasi, Professor and Group Leader, Center for Biological Sequence Analysis, Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark

Robert Tibshirani, Associate Chairman and Professor of Health Research and Policy, and Statistics, Stanford

Scott Zeger, Vice Provost for Research and Professor of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins University

Relevant articles:
A partial list of the papers in question includes Potti et al., Nature Medicine 2006, Potti et al.,
NEJM 2006, Hsu et al., JCO 2007, Bonnefoi et al., Lancet Oncology 2007, Dressman et al.,
JCO 2007, and Augustine et al, 2009. These papers have made important claims about the
ability of RNA expression patterns to explain particular aspects of cancer biology and to
provide tools for predicting prognosis and patient response to therapy. Some of these
approaches have been patented (US Patent Application 20090105167) and have been in use in
clinical trials since 2007 (NCT00509366, NCT00545948, NCT00636441).
The quality of the data that serve as the basis for the analysis described in these papers has
already been called into question both in the scientific literature (Coombes et al., Nat Med
2007, Baggerly et al, JCO 2008, Baggerly and Coombes, Ann App Stat 2009) and elsewhere
(the Cancer Letter, Oct 2, 9, and 23, 2009, Jan 29, May 14, and July 16, 2010). Some doubts
raised (Baggerly and Coombes, 2009) were so severe that Duke suspended clinical trials and
convened an independent panel to review the approaches (the Cancer Letter, Oct 2, 9, 23, 2009)
before letting the trials resume (the Cancer Letter, Jan 29, 2010). However, the panel’s report
(obtained from the NCI under FOIA) shows that even the panel was unable to confirm or refute
the validity of the claims based on publicly available data (the Cancer Letter, May 14, 2010).
Despite this, the trials were resumed and continue to use these models as an integral component
in deciding patient treatment.


Campus Cops boss disappears -- without a trace!!!!!

Aaron Graves, associate vice president for Duke police, seems to have disappeared. There has been no announcement of his departure that I can find.

His e-mail does not go through. The police department directory lists his position as “vacant.”

With the recent departure of VP Dawkins, Duke Police now report to VP Cavanaugh. (Don’t worry, we will not run out of vice presidents)

In the past year, Duke Police have been bedeviled by several incidents that have not been explained adequately.

First, a man was shot in the face and killed by an officer outside Duke Hospital. Duke Police have ducked behind “it’s still being investigated.” And it is outrageous that the campus newspaper has never followed up and introduced us to the dead man, other than his name, to treat him with respect and as a human.

Second, an officer was arrested, with Duke uniform, Duke shield, Duke gun and Duke handcuffs — for the S and M rape of a woman. Oh yes, he also had an over-sized enema bag and butt plug, and whips, among other implements. There has not been explanation of how this pervert got hired, and why he came to Duke for a lesser salary and lesser pension after almost ten years in Raleigh. Equally important, no one at the newspaper has ever found out if the perv worked with students, if he had access to sensitive records, or if for example he interviewed rape victims at the hospital.

Third, we have also been plagued by Durham on Duke crime, with our police force assuring us in the past year of expanded patrols on Central Campus, near 9th Street and in the Trinity area adjacent to East Campus. Where did these added patrols come from — if indeed they exist. Who is being shortchanged?

Fact Checker. All summer.

Addendum: a loyal reader has just pointed out that Graves is a defendant in the lax lawsuits, and we have no idea if behind Allen Building's closed doors, this has been factored in.

Time for Brodhead officials to fess facts about international efforts

In response to a Chronicle rah-rah article about Duke's internationalization:

✔Fact Checker here. On duty all summer.

With respect to our #2 international program -- after the Singapore Medical School which is by far #1 -- I think it is about time for Dean Sheppard to tell us how many students are going to enroll this August in the Cross Continent MBA. We also need to know the quality of those students.

Given his record of over-reaching, all of us should be holding our collective breath.

Loyal Readers will recall that last year this MBA program drew only 120 students -- far short of the 180 inaugural goal even after we bent standards and admitted more students from the USA robbing the program of its international flavor.

Sheppard said he was "confident" of 280 this August. And I will judge against that goal.

It's also time for the good Reverend / Vice President Jones to stop pretending as if everything were OK in Kunshan.

Tell us, please, if major construction has finally started. Explain for us, please, why we are almost a year off the originally announced timetable, and why occupancy has slipped from 2011 to 2012.

Fact Checker also challenges this statement in the Chronicle article, presented with no attribution whatsoever:

"And as Duke establishes more programs abroad, more international students are coming to study at the University."

Just today I read an interview in the India Times with Dean Shepherd talking about our plans in Delhi -- or nearby since we may end up in another outpost like Kunshan. The idea that Durham will be flooded is directly challenged by this paragraph:

"On why an Indian student would opt for a campus in Delhi instead of Durham, Jaivir Singh, Indian adviser to the dean, says 'We will offer students an international experience at their doorstep, and at a lower cost.' "

It seems to me that we may be going into competition with ourselves, with the USA and India efforts nipping at each other rather than enhancing each other.

Moreover, we are setting up two tier education. Delhi for the poor. Durham for those who can patch together the dollars.

Loyal Readers, I want to you know the evidence about Kunshan is mounting its success in manufacturing computers has driven wages up and corporate sharks are already out-sourcing to new, lower priced locations. This city is going to wind up like Youngstown Ohio and Detroit. More on this in the weeks ahead.

For now, back to the pool!!!!

Medical researcher faked Rhodes Scholarship

Fact Checker here. (Please read update below)

As (the Chronicle article today) suggests, Duke has thus far only addressed one aspect of the Potti case: his resume and whether he padded it in a big way by awarding himself a Rhodes Scholarship.

For this, Duke suspended this clown.

There is another dimension: Potti was recruiting more patients for three clinical trials, and top genetics experts want them stopped. Dr. Kevin Coombes at Houston's famed M D Anderson Cancer Center declared "I think those clinical trials should be stopped and the science behind them should be investigated."

Duke has specifically refused to comment on this... the status of the clinical trials.

Some of Potti's work is supported by a $750,000 grant from the American Cancer Society. Its chief medical officer is demanding more information from Duke -- and may want its money back.

Fact Checker's conclusion: Duke University must appoint an independent panel of people of the highest ethical standing -- medical alumni for example. They would investigate everything, including whether Duke had sufficient warning from the earlier episode of Potti's "science" that it should have had a better grip on his claims and activities now.

Allow me, please to update:

Duke has now taken further action and suspended new patient enrollment in the three clinical trials Potti was supervising. This after a nation-wide uproar, with doctors not only at MD Anderson but also at Harvard, Princeton and Johns Hopkins speaking out.

Two of these clinical trials involved lung cancer. The third breast cancer.

Duke seemly has addressed new patient enrollment. Fact Checker does not know if Potti had patients already enrolled who are continuing.


It's NOT a lacrosse scandal!!

Duke University bulldozes 610 N Buchanan Blvd.

✔ Fact Checker here.

Why does the Chronicle persist in using the term "lacrosse scandal?"

Fact Checker finds a very sick woman who brought false charges of rape and other sex crimes. Why isn't this the Crystal Gail Mangum scandal?

Fact Checker finds a district attorney who was disbarred, convicted of criminal contempt of court and sentenced to jail for his actions, which the chair of the North Carolina State Bar Disciplinary Committee stated involved "dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation." Why isn't this the Mike Nifong scandal?

At the very least, why isn't this the lacrosse hoax?

David Evans, one of those falsely accused, made a very eloquent point about the declaration of the State Attorney General that the players were "innocent." He said no matter what he becomes in life, no matter what he accomplishes, he will always be one of the three Duke lacrosse players charged with rape.

There is no reason for The Chronicle to abet this injustice.

As for the substance of the Chronicle article, it could be read to suggest that Duke University rented the home at 610 North Buchanan to students, including members of the lax team. This is wrong. Duke bought the property shortly before the March 13 lies by Mangum and Nifong started -- but the sale provided that people living in the houses would be allowed to stay until the end of their leases. In the case of the lax players, the end of the semester.

Duke has followed this precise course with other properties in the city, often in areas where student presence provoked many neighborhood complaints.

The Chronicle states that in 2009, Executive President Trask contacted lawyers involved in continuing litigation about the hoax and they refused to sign off on letting Duke demolish the house. Not stated, but presumably the reason was that the house might prove to be necessary evidence. What has changed since then? Are the lawsuits on the verge of settlement? Have the plaintiffs' lawyers signed off on this?

Chronicle, you have to get more probative and provocative.

✔And Harry Lime, thank you for your post, reminding us how much symbolism arose at 610 N Buchanan.


About this blog

This blog became alive again July 1, 2010. Essays that I append to Chronicle articles can be read here. You might want to check the on-line Chronicle archive for the original article as well as comments from others.

Fact Checker essays before July 1, 2010 also appear in this blog -- hit or miss. You can find all of them, however, in the Chronicle archive.

Obituary - Juanita Kreps, James B. Duke professor of economics

Juanita Kreps was one of the most amazing people ever to grace the Duke campus, and it's a miracle that she ever got here at all.

She was born in the little town of Lynch, Kentucky, born into poverty and tension and uncertainty and unhappiness. Her father was a struggling coal mine operator.

At age 4, her parents divorced and she lived with her mother until 12 or 13, when the Great Depression forced her into a state boarding school. For most of her generation, that would be the end of their education.

But somehow Berea College entered her life, a school dedicated to the rescue of bright children in the bleakness of southern Appalachia. She flourished and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. And she came to Duke -- the precise story of her admission and scholarships lost in time. -- receiving a masters (1944) and doctorate (1948).

During her years as a Duke student, she became the wife of another promising young economist, Clifton H. Kreps Jr., and for a while she allowed his career to whipsaw hers. They went from Denison University to Hofstra to Queens College, which is a division of the City University of New York. He was hired. She was an adjunct.

By the mid 50's, Clifton moved to UNC in Chapel Hill, where he began his ascent , becoming Wachovia Professor of Banking. He passed away ten years ago.

Juanita Kreps returned to Duke in 1955, and went steadily through the academic ranks, reaching the top rung as James B. Duke Professor of Economics in 1972, the first woman in an endowed chair. This was no small achievement at a school where -- for most of her years -- just about every prominent faculty member -- save Anne Firor Scott -- was a white male.

Kreps was notable on campus for her liberal views. In one class she said the size of the federal debt did not matter (it was only a few hundred million at the time), because it was money that Americans owed to other Americans. Alzheimer's robbed us of the chance to hear any update.

On a predominantly conservative campus, she was one of the first to speak of the right to choose abortion. In death, her family asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to Planned Parenthood or the Episcopal Church in Chapel Hill.

Her specialty was the labor demographics of women and older workers.

Consider her articles and books:

“Sex in the Marketplace: American Women at Work” (1971), about how women were excluded from top jobs and settled for low salaries, while still being expected to be responsible for housework.

“Lifetime Allocation of Work and Leisure: Essays in the Economy of Aging” (1971);

and “Women and the American Economy” (1976).

Kreps entered the administration of Duke, and was last Dean of the Women's College (then occupying East Campus) from 1969 until 1972. She presided over its devolvement, with female students (co-eds in the contemporary term) gaining full status in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering.

By 1972, her national stature was such that the New York Stock Exchange did the unprecedented, naming her a director. Talk about sitting amid conservative white men!!

In 1973, President Terry Sanford made her a vice president of the university without specific portfolio. In 1976, Sanford mentioned her to the Democratic Presidential candidate and his staff, and after winning, Jimmy Carter named her the fourth woman ever to sit in the cabinet, and the first to be secretary of commerce. There were some ripples beyond sex; this post traditionally went not to an economist but to someone immersed in private business.

Announcing her nomination, President Jimmy Carter said it was hard to find qualified women. Asked if she agreed, Ms. Kreps replied, "I do think we have to do a better job of looking in the case of both women and minorities."

"I think she disagrees with me," a smiling Mr. Carter said.

"I don't think you have to shy away from the idea of tokenism," she told the Washington Post in 1977, soon after being confirmed by the Senate. "It's just a stage we have to go through."

Kreps defined her ambition: "a new era, in which corporations would boast of how much they had spent on socially desirable activities and corporate executives would be esteemed by shareholders and their peers for the same reason."

The New York Times, in an unusual 1100 word obituary written by a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, said she sought new laws to ensure privacy for millions of consumers, requiring insurance, financial and credit card companies to tell customers about information collected on them, to explain adverse decisions affecting them, and to accord them rights to challenge erroneous data in their files.

She championed minority owned businesses, female and elderly workers, the unemployed, and urban areas starting to wither from outsourcing of jobs.

Inside the Carter administration, she battled Treasury over trade-regulation enforcement, the State Department over commercial attachés who help American businesses overseas, and with the national security adviser over sensitive technology exports to Communist countries.

She undertook notable trade missions world wide, including the Communist nations of China and the Soviet Union.

Above all, Washington was a lonely experience. Her husband was unable to leave UNC and she commuted most weekends. She left the Cabinet after three years when her husband tried to commit suicide.

Her evaluation of her Carter years included the remark that she was never part of the "Boy's Breakfast Club" that met regularly at the White House to advise the President on domestic economic policy.

Corporate America knocked loudly at Krep's door at Duke. Over time, she became a director of J.C. Penney, Eastman Kodak, R J Reynolds Nabisco, Citicorp, United Airlines, AT&T, Armco, Zurn Industries, John Deere and Company, Chrysler Corporation, and TIAA-CREF, which is the giant pension fund specializing in serving educators.

Oh yes, she was also chair of the company which brings us the College Boards and other exams, Educational Testing Service.

In the academic word, she received 15 honorary degrees, plus other awards and recognition.

Berea College put her on its board, as did UNC-Wilmington. And so did The Duke Endowment, a separate charity founded by James B. Duke that is often confused with the University.

As for the name Juanita, Kreps just shook her head. She was of Scottish-Irish heritage, and said "My mother liked the name and she claimed she might have some Spanish ancestry," she told the Washington Post in her soft spoken way. "But I don't think I'm the Juanita type," she said. "I should have been called Emily."

At Duke Kreps is memorialized with the Juanita and Clifton Kreps chair in economics. She received the Duke University Medal for Distinguished Meritorious Service—considered the University’s highest honor.

Thank you for reading Fact Checker.


Duke admissions - counting phantoms

The Chronicle's Tower View magazine did a recap story on Duke admissions.

Fact Checker here. This is a good article.

I would like to point out, however, how malleable admissions statistics are.

At Washington University in Saint Louis, a good enough school that it should not have to resort to games, admissions officers placed a mass advertisement that included a reply post card -- and counted every postcard as an application.

At Franklin and Marshal -- which will be led by former Duke PR maven John Burness as president pro tem this fall -- the admissions director got a bright idea to improve his yield rate. He skipped over the best applicants -- figuring that Franklin and Marshal would have competition for them, and admitted the mediocre on the theory more would show up. They did.

At Duke, here's the only two objections I have to the statistics. In reporting applications, we count people who withdraw before getting a decision from Duke -- perhaps they got early admission elsewhere. We also count "incomplete" applications.

Key point: I cannot find out how far along an application must go before it triggers a count.

Solution: Duke should count only those applications read by admissions counselors, only those whom we accept, reject or put on a wait list. In that manner, Duke will not tinker with its acceptance rate. (The current methods drive the rate a bit lower).

If you do not think acceptance rates make a big difference, sign on to U S News and World Report. Its abbreviated (read that to mean free) listings include only one fact about each school -- acceptance rate.

As for our yield, yes we do have a problem: Duke at the bottom of the top ten list is competing for the same students as the schools at the top -- and invariably if students can get into Harvard, Yale Princeton they go there.

No where is this more apparent than in the one statistic that Fact Checker has recently uncovered. For the Class of 2010, just graduated, The Robinson Scholarship program offered 21 people admission to Duke. Only 15 showed up.

I will try to find similar stats on the Angier and Ben Duke Scholarships. But it's pretty bad when your prime scholarships are rejected.

Fact Checker here. Thanks for reading!

Duke gets two new trustees

The Chronicle reported that two new trustees are joining the board, as well as two junior trustees with observer status.

✔ Fact Checker here.

Yale has just gotten a new member of its governing board too, and allow me, please, to quote from the official university news release:

"Yale graduates from around the world have elected renowned pediatric surgeon and educator Dr. Francisco Cigarroa ’79 B.S. to serve........."

Yes, there were three candidates. A choice!!

The candidates spoke to their fellow Yalies. They told them of their dreams for the school, where they stood on issues. And then the alumni actually voted actually voted from among the choices and selected the best!!!!!!!!!

Compare that please with the clandestine process that brought Dukies two new trustees. Conducted behind closed doors, the two were put forth by the Brodhead Admnistration and were approved by by the lemmings on the current board of trustees at their meeting last December (not in May as Chronicle states), and then submitted for the charade of ratification by either the Methodist Church or the alumni leadership.

Fact Checker tried to find out in December who had been selected. We tried to find out again after the alumni leadership ratified. And the Allen Building Gang kept it secret -- not because there is any reason to, but because that's the way they think and that's their penchant.

Fellow Dukies, all this should change!!!!!!!!!!! Revolution!!!!!!!

Loyal Readers will recall my prediction that Bill Gross would be elected. Stay tuned, we'll get him some day, unavoidable as we move into a high gear fund-raising campaign. He's the West Coast bond guru who parlayed Duke dorm poker games -- and his uncanny ability to analyze the risk of making a bet -- into becoming a multi-billionaire. Quite a colorful guy too -- for example he spent more than $30 million for a beach house -- and is now tearing it down to use the land to put up his own dream. Hey, if you got it, go for it.

✔Bishoop Hope Morgan Ward.

Her election as a trustee is best viewed as a sop to the Methodist Church. While clearly qualified in her own right, Fact Checker believes Ward bubbled to the top because we have lost, or are about to lose in the next expiration of Trustee terms, three church stalwarts: retired Bishop J. Lawrence McClesky, Rev. Clarence Newsome who is the former President of Shaw University in Raleigh, and Rev. Charles Smith who has been pastor in residence at Duke Divinity School.

Keeping the myth alive that this is a Methodist institution!!

✔Laurene Sperling

Though the Chronicle story on Sperling doesn't mention her husband, Fact Checker believes he's a good reason for her rise from an obscure Library advisory panel to the top governing body. Scott Sperling is a heavy hitter in the financial world, co-president of Thomas H. Lee Partners -- THL for those in the know -- a vast private equity firm in Boston. Enormous bucks. Mansion north of Boston.

If that script sounds familiar, Duke followed it too with Martha Monserrate, neglecting to tell us that her spouse is Herbert Hardinge McDade, president of Lehman Brothers before its collapse. Enormous bucks. Mansion in Great Gatsby country.

The Sperlings met as MBA students at Harvard and have been very very loyal there, writing regular big checks not only to the B-school but to the Harvard medical school's teaching hospital. Their other big contributions have been to Jewish charities, with Fact Finder uncovering no indication that Scott's undergraduate alma mater, Purdue, has gotten gravy. So far as I can trace -- and I'm pretty good at these things -- the first six digit contribution to Duke came three years ago.

Loyal Readers, watch for more!

Thanks for reading and supporting Fact Checker.
You deserve to know.

Duke and China

(The Chronicle wrote an ecstatic feature article about Duke's international aspirations)

Good day, my fellow Dukies. Many of you are vacationing, Fact Checker is NOT.

Let's go to the Chronicle archives.

April 16, 2009
The Chronicle first mentioned the Chinese backwater of Kunshan on this date, learning in an interview with Dean Sheppard of Fuqua that -- in the newspaper's words -- "construction on the site will begin in August."

December 4, 2009
By the time the Trustee's winter meeting rolled around, the Chronicle said Duke was going to send a delegation to Kunshan in January 2010 to "break ground." Needless to say the Chronicle never asked about the slippage apparent in not breaking ground in August.

The paper further noted that a document that President Brodhead would sign in China formalizing the agreement states "the facilities would be ready for occupancy in 2011."

January 22, 2010
Duke PR flooded editors with pictures of Brodhead in China for the "ground-breaking." We saw our President and the Chinese rep -- surprisingly only an assistant dean from a Shanghai university that we are taking on as a partner -- listening to appropriate song and dance, and then moving to a table replete with red bunting and little flags of the USA and China crossed as if Obama and Wen Jiabao were on hand. Brodhead and partner used ceremonial pens to sign and swap bound copies of the documents.

Then Brodhead and the Chinese assistant dean donned white gloves, were given silver tipped shovels, and turned the earth. Duke's news release called it a groundbreaking. To Fact Checker, that means it's underway.

Behind them was a Hollywood set built for the occasion, declaring this to be the "cornerstone ceremony," which to Fact Checker implies there is a building into which the cornerstone would fit.

June 16, 2010
Yes six months later. The Chronicle -- without bothering to tell us about the other deadlines -- reports on a visit to Kunshan by a coterie of Deans trying to figure out what to do with the facility. Oh that's not what the official announcement said; but that's what it meant.

Steve Nowicki allowed that -- as the Chronicle put it -- "construction is set to begin soon." Huh? Soon?????

Nowicki is also quoted as explaining there won't be any undergraduate programs for a while. No one at the paper said, "hey Steve, wait a second. Here's what we learned from the Brodhead administration for our story on January 25th" :

"The University will use the (Kunshan) facilities for the Global Semester Abroad program beginning next semester," a reference to undergraduates and August, 2010.

And Jones, who has moved in six months time from being a Dean to being full time Adviser to Brodhead on international stuff to being a Vice Provost to being a Vice President, says without ever wincing at the 2011 timetable, that we can have occupancy in 2012. This man will go far as an administrator.

July 1, 2010
Which brings us to today's headline, "Chinese city prepares for opening of Duke campus" which is a rather inaccurate way to tell us construction has yet to begin.

✔The point is: there has now been enough slippage in the Kunshan timetable, that the Brodhead Administration must come clean and tell us what's happening and why.

So far as Fact Checker can determine, the only activity Duke has confirmed for the five buildings on 200 acres (twice the size of East Campus) occurs in August, 2012.

I wonder if the Chinese know that.

What's convening there? Our well hyped Cross Continent MBA program convenes in Kunshan -- for a total of two weeks. Yes 14 days of use for the campus. I wonder if the Chinese footing the bill know this.

✔As for the MBA candidates, In the 15 months after Kunshan -- having paid for airfare, paid $1500 for a special laptop and mailed in $120,100 to Duke -- the students move on to hotels in four other international cities plus Durham -- a total of 60 classroom days to earn their degrees.

$120,100. Hmmm.... That's $2,000 a day. (The tuition, by the way, when the program was first announced on September 15, 2008, was going to be $101,900.)

The situation with the Cross Continent program -- a linchpin in our international aspirations along with a home campus like Kunshan -- should also cause some concern. Back to the Chronicle archive.

In announcing the new MBA program, the good dean of Fuqua said he hoped for 180 students in the academic year just ending. He only rounded up 120 after admitting many more from the US than he intended, robbing the program of its international flavor.

As for the Cross-Continent MBA class starting in August, Dean Shepperd -- knowing full well the impact of the recession, so I do not want to hear the economy brought up as an excuse -- said he was "confident" there would be 280 students.

Fellow Dukies, my mole in Fuqua says we will be lucky to get half that number.

I hate to throw cold water on a hot topic, but let's remember Fuqua's other hastily conceived international voyages that ended in disaster. Frankfurt, for example, at a cost of many millions. Moscow. London.

Since it's founding in 1969 with fat checks from a man named Fuqua and his better known next door neighbor, the Wendy's hamburger man Dave Thomas, our business school has grown like topsy. Today it has more than twice as many professors as the Law School, including one whose take last year was a cool $1,031,673 and yes, Fact Checker is pursing this full steam. You can count on it!!

In the last year with complete statistics, Fuqua awarded 596 MBA's and 100 Master of Management Studies degrees. That compares with just 162 Ph.D's in the entire Arts and Sciences enterprise, and 191 masters. It also compares with only 103 Duke MD degrees.

The school has ambitions. It needs a Fact Checker to keep tabs.

Lastly, Loyal Readers, the labor situation in Kunshan.

Our Trustee chair and President Brodhead have both noted this city has people earning far more than others in China. They spoke with pride of an economic engine. I warn with haste.

The same sharks from Taiwan who outsourced their work to the mainland and built up Kunshan will move on at the drop of a dime if labor costs rise above what sharks would have to pay in other exploited parts of the world. The Philippines. India. You name it.

In recent months, there have been labor strikes in China. Including Kunshan, where one of the biggest employers is Foxconn, which makes motherboards for many brands of computers.

Not in its Kunshan factory, but in another, 11 employees of Foxconn committed suicide recently, apparently because they were driven crazy by intense work and poor conditions. Consider a woman whose only function is to stick rubber feet on the bottom of each mouse passing on a production line, thousands of mouses (or mice) racing by each day, 11 hours a day, six days a week, $280 a month. She lives in a walled compound at the factory, 9 to a room, sleeping in shifts, working when awake).

Dukies, if you find yourself in Kunshan, this is what you will find yourself in the middle of.

Vice President Jones noted that some of the unrest in Kunshan came during the Duke Deans visit, but they did not know about it and paid no attention. Suppose they had known? What would they have done?

No more than Dukies are able to ignore Durham -- or historically were they able to ignore the grave injustices of the South -- can we become an island of 200 acres, in a city with no university, no airport, and only one hotel with any stars within its boundaries, a city where the best restaurant is not Chinese but Korean, and where the principal night-time attraction is a gigantic bowling alley.

Ware not going to Kunshan to upset their way of life or their economy. Neither can we go without conscience. We shall engage.

Thank you for reading Fact Checker. Duke.Fact.Checker@gmail.com

Please don't write me that you found more hotels with stars. The others are all outside the city in lake resorts. .

We're back effective July 1, 2010

✔Fact Checker!!!

This blog becomes alive again July 1, 2010. All essays that I append to Chronicle articles can be read here. You might also want to check the Chronicle archive for the original article as well as all other comments.

Only some of my essays before July 1 are included in this blog -- hit or miss. Sorry.

In the coming months, Fact Checker will expand. I hope to have an e-mail news letter as the first step. Keep checking for details, or send an e-mail to be notified of the start to Duke.Fact.Checker@gmail.com