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Chancellor Responds to Charges of Alleged Medical Research Abuse at MCG

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Atlanta — February 19, 1997

University System of Georgia Chancellor Stephen R. Portch said that he joins with officials of the Medical College of Georgia in “expressing outrage” regarding the alleged theft of research funds from the Medical College of Georgia.

“If the two indicted yesterday are guilty of the crimes of which they are charged, this represents a deep betrayal of public faith in the academy and in the medical community,” Portch stated. “Yesterday’s arrests serve to communicate to the research community that any such alleged fraud–however large or small–will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Portch indicated that when the alleged wrongdoing by the two former MCG researchers was initially discovered by MCG officials, they informed his office in writing. “We alerted the Attorney General’s office that same day, which ultimately resulted in the criminal investigation” he said. “Since that time, everyone within the University System responsible for providing information to the Attorney General’s office has cooperated fully.”

Acknowledging that the alleged scheme represents an alleged loss of significant income, the chancellor said that he “will work with the Attorney General’s office to secure financial recovery for any lost revenue.” He also said that he and other University System officials have taken significant steps to prevent future occurrences of this type.

“An audit of MCG’s research procedures and protocols ordered in early-December is being finalized by the Board of Regents’ internal auditing staff,” he stated. “A key recommendation of that audit was to fast-track MCG officials’ proposal to establish an Office of Clinical Trials Compliance that will provide a system for tracking clinical trials, an action already moved on.” In addition to ordering an audit of the research procedures and protocols at MCG, Portch said that in mid-December he expanded the audits to all four research universities to determine the status of procedures at those institutions. “Those audits are in progress,” he stated.

Portch said “while no system is fool-proof, it is our responsibility and our intention to maintain trust in the health care facilities at MCG and to diminish the potential for such alleged violations from occurring in the future.” He also said that it “saddens me that the thousands of loyal and hardworking employees who provide outstanding health care and public service at MCG on a daily basis are being hurt by this situation. Now would be a good time to thank them for the work that they do, and to express our regret about this alleged scheme.”

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