U. of Okla. Scandal Leads to Exodus

Friday July 21 3:52 PM ET

U. of Okla. Scandal Leads to Exodus

By KELLY KURT, Associated Press Writer

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - A research scandal that led to the shutdown of 75 human experiments at the University of Oklahoma medical school in Tulsa has brought the departure of three top university officials and dismissal proceedings against a scientist.

``I think we have no choice but to demonstrate we're making a fresh start,'' university President David Boren said Friday. ``We simply have to send a very strong signal for the sake of all our research programs.''

The scandal broke earlier this month over a skin cancer study. An outside audit found flaws in the manufacturing the study's vaccine and lapses in the monitoring of its participants, all of whom were seriously ill with melanoma.

Twenty-six of the 94 participants who received the vaccine over the three years of the study died, though officials found no evidence the study contributed to the deaths.

In the wake of the discovery, the university suspended 70 clinical trials at the university and the government suspended five others.

Boren said that the university has started termination proceedings against the study's lead researcher, Dr. Michael McGee, and that three officials had either resigned or retired: Harold Brooks, dean of the college of medicine in Tulsa; Edward Wortham Jr., director of the Office of Research at the Health Science Center; and Daniel Plunket, chairman of the school's research oversight board.

Boren also announced stringent new procedures, including the establishment of a research compliance office with a hot line for anonymous callers to report violations.