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Scientific Misconduct at Thomas Jefferson University

ldavison at pop.uky.edu ldavison at pop.uky.edu
Thu Apr 30 13:49:03 EST 1998

   I read over this article... I'm familiar with Pomerantz's "name" and I've
heard about the proposed gene therapy, but no more than that. My feeling is
that Pomerantz is respected and is a money maker, thus his job was likely
never in jeopardy. Science *should* come first, but science is expensive.
Thus, money tends to come first. As this occurred in his lab, he is ultimately
responsible, but from my reading it appears that Duan was the actual "bad
guy". Pomerantz is guilty of not paying attention. In my mind that's certainly
*very* careless, partcularly at this level in which human trials were about to
begin, but I'd need to see more details before saying he should be fired. I
think the committee is correct in firing Duan, but the punishment of Bagasra
sounds unfounded to me. It may well be a case in which badmouthing a colleague
is considered one of the worst sins you can commit. What we don't know here,
however, is whether Bagasra and Pomerantz or Duan had any previous rivalries.
We don't know Bagasra's character or motivations in this and it may be that
the committee has it's own "good" reasons for calling him down. I don't know.
In my experience, however, I've seen quite a bit of backstabbing and sabotage
among the scientific community, so if it turns out that Bagasra had an axe to
grind it wouldn't surprize me in the least. I wish I could say that it
would... But keep in mind that Wu knew who to go to.
   The punishment that will come Pomerantz' way will be indirect.
Grant-bestowing organizations are *tight* with their money and they hate this
type of thing. By doing bad science, Duan has very likely set Pomerantz up for
long-term future lack of funding - at least by the NIH. There will also be the
impact of loss of credibility among colleagues in the field. Those who know
him personally will likely take his side, but the nature of the scientific
beast is fiercly competitive and he will no doubt lose standing in the
scientific community. If he is well respected AND well liked, he may fare
pretty well. If he has enemies, they'll magnify the situation. Believe me, he
won't come away unscathed!
   Actually, the guy I feel for in this is not Bagasra, but Wu. It takes a
hell of a lot of nerve to blow the whistle on someone else's research. He may
well have jeopardised his entire career in doing the right thing - and that
really is too bad.


In article <6i7q28$adl$1 at nnrp1.dejanews.com>#1/1,
  pfear at lycosmail.com wrote:
       I awoke this morning to find a rather disturbing
> article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the major newspaper of Philly.  Today
> they reported some possible misconduct by Roger J. Pomerantz and his
> associate Dr. Duan.  They have been very popular here in the area for some
> new treatment for HIV they have been developing.  It seems that their new
> treatment was fake and would have hurt patients who recieved the treatment.
>   My impression of the news article is that they were trying to fool the
> scientific community and take advantage of AIDS patients.  Jefferson has
> been covering this up, and protecting this man.  I don't understand why?
> This is horrible. They should all be ashamed of themselves.  I am interested
> to see further reports on this, and I would like to bring this to the
> attention of scientists everywhere.  I find use of government grants for
> personal gain deplorable, and faked science even more horrible.  These men
> should not be allowed to continue in research.
>   Dr. Bagasra seems like the only honest man in the article, and he is being
> removed from the university.  I don't understand it.  Please read the
> article and decide for yourselves.
>      Science should be about fact, not money!

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