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April 8, 1983

The Harvard fraud case: where does the problem lie?

JAMA. 1983;249(14):1797-1807. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330380003001

Ascientific scandal at Harvard Medical School has culminated in the harshest penalty the federal government has ever imposed on a researcher for falsifying data.

Moreover, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) investigative report issued Feb 16 and accompanying documents have criticized Harvard for its handling of the affair, embarrassed one of the nation's leading cardiologists, and suggested strongly that the pattern of fraud extends back to the perpetrator's residency days at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

The protagonist in the case, one of the most complex in the expanding annals of scientific fraud, is a former Harvard research fellow, John Roland Darsee, MD, 34. Now in a second residency program in upstate New York, Darsee appeared destined for a brilliant academic career before his boldness in faking results in animal experiments began to reveal an extensive pattern of data fabrication. Ultimately, he was found to have falsified large