the NIH 32P poisoning incident/having kids

Chong Jue Lipke at
Tue Oct 22 15:18:15 EST 1996

Sarah Boomer wrote:
> I posted awhile ago on the topic of having children in grad. school -
> mentioning the whole case at the NIH where the advisor is alleged to have
> threatened his post-doc, recommending an abortion, etc. when she announced
> that she was pregnant.  The worst allegation, though, remains that he
> intentionally poisoned her with 32P, and then again recommended that, for
> the baby's sake she abort.
> Some of the recent posts have made similar strong allegations that
> advisors use similarly harsh language.  I have heard nearly as blunt
> threats issued to colleagues - although only slightly less harsh language
> is used:  have you considered "other options."  All flanked by remarks
> that this was going to hurt their progress and the success of the lab.
> I think this happens a lot though am frankly stunned to read it discussed
> in this forum as though, dare I say, it is almost acceptable. When the NIH
> case hit the 60 minutes track, I was floored, in one sense, by the
> outrageous allegations.  A part of me, though, was happy that this serious
> violation of professional conduct may finally be addressed.  To me, an
> advisor is seriously out of line making these kind of remarks.  And yet I
> read people on this group openly talking about it.
> What can be done?  Is this right?  I don't understand how this kind of
> misconduct gets perpetuated?  Anyone out there got any updates on this
> case in particular?
> Sarah


> What can be done?Why not send a copy of posting to the director of NIH to get his/her 
version of the case?  My guess is that he will give you the official 
version of the incident, what NIH has done and what will they do in the 
future.  If the answers sound unreasonable.  Ask his/her permission to 
post story and post.  I'd like to hear that.  By the way, I think the 
director of NIH is Harold Varmus.

If you don't hear from the head of NIH, write to Donna Shalala who 
oversees the NIH.

That may be one of the way to start.

Chong K. Jue
Dept of Biological Sciences
Hunter College
695 Park Ave,
New York, NY 10021
eMail:  lipke at

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