Findings of Scientific Misconduct

Notice Number: NOT-OD-07-059

Key Dates
Release Date: April 6, 2007

Issued by
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

Notice is hereby given that the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) and the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health have taken final action in the following case:

Rebecca Uzelmeier (formerly known as Rebecca Marcus), Michigan State University: Based on the report of an investigation by Michigan State University (MSU) and additional information obtained by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) during its oversight review, ORI found that Rebecca Uzelmeier, former doctoral student, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, MSU, committed misconduct in science by intentionally and knowingly fabricating and falsifying data in research supported by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), granted R01 ES02520.

ORI issued a charge letter enumerating the above findings of misconduct in science. However, on October 12, 2006, Ms. Uzelmeier filed a request for a hearing under 42 CFR part 93 to dispute these findings before the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Departmental Appeals Board (DAB). On October 19, 2006, ORI moved to dismiss Ms. Uzelmeier's hearing request because it failed to create a genuine dispute of either material fact or law, as required under 42 CFR 93.504. On March 5, 2007, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) with the DAB ruled in ORI's favor and dismissed Ms. Uzelmeier's hearing request pursuant to 42 CFR 93.504(a)(2). The ALJ found that Ms. Uzelmeier's hearing request raised defenses that either were immaterial to the charges of misconduct in science or that the ALJ had no authority to grant Ms. Uzelmeier's request for relief under Part 93.

Specifically, Ms. Uzelmeier knowingly and intentionally:

Ms. Uzlmeier's research concerned the interaction between the environmental toxin, dioxin, and a cytokine, interferon, on cellular signaling in the immune system. The approach was to exploit dioxin, or "TCDD" (2, 3, 7, 8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin), as a probe that suppresses the immune system to delineate a role for the aryl hydrocarbon receptor protein (AhR), which is a cytosolic receptor that can be transported to the nucleus to also act as a nuclear transcription factor. The specific aim was to determine whether the mechanism of action of a naturally occurring regulatory factor, interferon-[gamma] (IFN-[gamma]), to antagonize the immunosuppressive actions of dioxin, was through reduced AhR signaling. Ms. Uzelmeier's actions caused the withdrawal of a manuscript that had been submitted for publication, the withdrawal of her mentor's PHS grant application, and her dismissal from graduate school.

The following administrative actions have been implemented for a period of five (5) years, beginning on March 12, 2007:

(1) Ms. Uzelmeier has been debarred from any contracting or subcontracting with any agency of the United States Government and from eligibility or involvement in nonprocurement programs of the United States Government referred to as "covered transactions" as defined in the debarment regulations at 2 CFR 180 and 376; and

(2) Ms. Uzelmeier is prohibited from serving in any advisory capacity to PHS including but not limited to service on any PHS advisory committee, board, and/or peer review committee, or as consultant.

Inquiries

For further information contact:

Director
Division of Investigative Oversight
Office of Research Integrity
1101 Wootton Parkway, Suite 750
Rockville, MD  20852
Telephone:  (240) 453-8800

 

 


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