Penn dismisses ghostwriting charges

Two Psychiatry professors were accused of ghostwriting by their colleague last summer

· March 2, 2012, 4:34 pm   ·  Updated March 12, 2012, 12:13 am

The University did not find evidence of research misconduct or plagiarism by Psychiatry professors Dwight Evans and Laszlo Gyulai.

Last summer, Psychiatry professor Jay Amsterdam submitted charges of research misconduct against five other researchers, including Evans — Psychiatry department chair — and Gyulai.

Amsterdam claimed a paper published under their names in a 2001 edition of The American Journal of Psychiatry was ghostwritten by an employee at Scientific Therapeutics Information. Amsterdam also claimed he had been a co-principal investigator for the study but was not listed as an author.

Penn concluded that Evans and Gyulai did allow their names to be listed as authors, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported, but guidelines for research and journal standards of the University have changed over the years. The current rules would have required Evans and Gyulai to acknowledge “assistance from a medical writer,” but those in effect in 2001 would not have.

The paper in question examined the effect of an antidepressant drug Paxil, manufactured by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline.

The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity began investigating the charges last summer.

“We take allegations of research misconduct seriously, and will investigate the matter thoroughly under the University’s and the School of Medicine’s well-defined processes and procedures,” the University said in a statement last July.

In July, the Project on Government Oversight — a nonpartisan watchdog group — wrote a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to remove Penn president Amy Gutmann as chair of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. Gutmann was named to the commission in November 2009 and was reappointed as chair on Feb. 17.

“We do not understand how Dr. Gutmann can be a credible Chair of the Commission when she seems to ignore bioethical problems on her own campus,” POGO’s executive director Danielle Brian wrote. “Until the University concludes a sincere and transparent investigation of these charges and takes decisive action to deter future ghostwriting, we feel that Dr. Gutmann should be removed as Chair of the Commission.”

Evans had previously been accused of ghostwriting. In December 2010, POGO claimed a Scientific Therapeutics Information writer had authored a 2003 editorial on the burdens of depression, but Evans and co-researcher Dennis Charney, dean of research at New York University’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine had put their names down as authors.

The University defended Evans, saying in a December 2010 statement that the claims were “unfounded.”

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