Duke pays $112.5 million to settle research grant fraud case

by Ben Vernia | March 27th, 2019

On March 25, the Department of Justice announced that Duke University had agreed to pay $112.5 million to settle a whistleblower’s allegations that the university submitted fraudulent federal research grant applications. According to DOJ’s press release:

Duke University has agreed to pay the government $112.5 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by submitting applications and progress reports that contained falsified research on federal grants to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Justice Department announced today.

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Duke is a private university located in Durham, North Carolina. Duke receives millions of dollars in funding from NIH and the EPA for hundreds of grants each year.  The settlement resolves allegations that between 2006 and 2018, Duke knowingly submitted and caused to be submitted claims to the NIH and to the EPA that contained falsified or fabricated data or statements in thirty (30) grants, causing the NIH and EPA to pay out grants funds they otherwise would not have.  Specifically, the United States contends that the results of certain research related to mice conducted by a Duke research technician in its Airway Physiology Laboratory, as well as statements based on those research results, were falsified and/or fabricated.

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DOJ announced that the relator, a former Duke employee, will receive $33.75 million of the settlement (a 30% relator’s share).

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