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Draft Report Accuses Scientist Of Submitting False Information For Grant

March 22, 1991

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A Georgetown University Medical Center scientist has been accused of scientific misconduct in applications for two federal research grants from the National Institutes of Health.

A draft report of an investigation by the NIH’s Office of Scientific Integrity alleges that Margit Hamosh, a Georgetown pediatrics professor, made false claims, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Hamosh, 57, is a nationally known researcher into infant nutrition and has brought more than $4 million in grants to Georgetown over the past 15 years.

Kate Egan, a Georgetown University spokesperson, said that both the university and Hamosh are forbidden by federal law from commenting about an on-going NIH investigation into allegations of scientific misconduct. Hamosh could not be reached by phone.

According to the Post, the NIH report focused on four allegations brought by Lois Freed, a member of Hamosh’s research staff.

The NIH found no misconduct in two of the charges, but concluded in the two others that Hamosh made false claims.

In one instance, the report said, Hamosh claimed to have developed a method of using newborn rabbits in an infant nutrition experiment, even though the method never worked.

The report said that Hamosh also claimed in a grant application to have obtained results from a nutrition study using immature dogs. But the scientist later testified that she had no record of the data and had submitted the information based on memory.

″The data are worthless and appear to have been fabricated or falsified,″ the Post quoted the report as saying.

An investigation by Georgetown University was faulted in the report for failing to resolve several issues. The allegations by Freed had been dismissed by the university investigation, the report said.

Freed, who was fired by Hamosh, has sued the university and Hamosh. The suit is still pending.

The Post said the report questioned the timing of Freed’s dismissal.

″The coincidence of these events is troubling, and it raises questions about whether Dr. Freed’s enforced departure from the laboratory resulted from her having raised questions about the paper,″ the report said.

Normal procedure calls for the report to be reviewed by the Department of Health and Human Services. If the findings hold up after review, then they could result in criminal charges, debarment from future federal grants or a letter of reprimand. By law, the university could also be forced to return the grant money received as a result of the questionable applications.

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