Release Date:  July 10, 2001

NOTICE:  NOT-OD-01-048

Department of Health and Human Services

Notice is hereby given that the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) and the 
Assistant Secretary for Health have taken final action in the following case:

David R. Jacoby, M.D., Ph.D., Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Massachusetts 
General Hospital (MGH):  Based on the report of an investigation conducted by 
HMS and MGH and additional analysis carried out by ORI in its oversight 
review, the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) found that Dr. Jacoby, former 
Instructor, Department of Neurology, MGH, engaged in 15 acts of scientific 
misconduct by plagiarizing and falsifying research data taken from another 
scientist's different experiment in a published journal article for use in a 
program project grant application submitted to, and funded by, the National 
Institutes of Health (NIH).

Specifically, Dr. Jacoby plagiarized an image of a Southern blot analysis of 
genomic DNA that appeared as Figure 3A in Balagué, C., Kalla, M., & Zhang, W.-
W.  "Adeno-Associated Virus Rep78 Protein and Terminal Repeats Enhance 
Integration of DNA Sequences into the Cellular Genome." J. Virology 71:3299-
3306, 1997.  Dr. Jacoby first falsified the image by adding molecular weight 
markers and lane labels that misrepresented the image as his own experimental 
data.  He further falsified the image using computer software to intensify a 
band he claimed was a site-specific integration and to remove identifiable 
background spots present in the original image.  The effect of Dr. Jacoby's 
falsifications was to misrepresent the image as data from his own experimental 
analysis of clonal cell lines derived from the infection of a human cell line 
with a recombinant hybrid virus incorporating two transgenes and adeno-
associated virus genes into a herpes simplex virus amplicon.  Dr. Jacoby's 
falsified image was material to his research because it supported his claim 
that the transgene DNA had integrated into the cell genome at a specific site. 
These plagiarized and falsified results were reported in:

1.  appendix material supporting an application for a Program Project Grant, 
Molecular Etiology of Early Onset Torsion Dystonia, 1 P01 NS37409-01A1, 
submitted by Dr. Jacoby's supervisor; Dr. Jacoby's supervisor relied upon 
falsified written and oral information provided to her by Dr. Jacoby in her 
description of his recent research progress;

2.  three presentations by Dr. Jacoby's supervisor to colleagues at MGH in May 
1998 regarding the status of the research in her laboratory; Dr. Jacoby's 
supervisor relied upon falsified written and oral information provided to her 
by Dr. Jacoby in her description of his recent research progress; and

3.  a grant application to NIH for continuation of Dr. Jacoby's Clinical 
Investigator Award grant, 5 K08 NS01887-03, signed by Dr. Jacoby on 
May 29, 1998.

In addition, Dr. Jacoby subsequently altered the falsified image described 
above further by changing the location of the molecular weight markers to make 
it appear more consistent with the expected experimental results.  Dr. Jacoby 
then submitted the plagiarized and falsified results to a MGH colleague who 
included them in a presentation at the First Annual Meeting of the American 
Society of Gene Therapy, held in Seattle, Washington, on May 30, 1998.

During the institutional investigation in 1998, Dr. Jacoby presented another 
falsified image as data from his own experiment.  Specifically, he used 
computer software to scan Figure 3A in Balagué et al. and then alter the 
locations of three major bands in an effort to conceal the origin of the 
falsified image (i.e., Figure 3A) and to deceive investigating officials into 
believing that the results were from an independent experiment.  Dr. Jacoby 
then used the different band locations as "evidence" of the differences 
between Figure 3A by Balagué et al. and the data purportedly from his own 
experiment by presenting the falsified image: (1) to the Chief of MGH's 
Neurology Service; (2) to a scientist assisting the Inquiry Committee by 
attempting to reproduce Dr. Jacoby's experiment; and (3) to the Inquiry 
Committee as data from his own independent experiment.

After the institution concluded that Dr. Jacoby had engaged in scientific 
misconduct, Dr. Jacoby forged the signature of the institutional official for 
the MGH Grants and Contracts Office and knowingly included false and material 
information on his NIH non-competing renewal application for a Clinical 
Investigator Award, 5 K08 NS01887-05.  Specifically, after ceasing to work in 
his supervisor's laboratory and after being told by his supervisor that she 
would no longer serve as his mentor on the Clinical Investigator Award, Dr. 
Jacoby (1) listed his former supervisor as his mentor on his 5 K08 NS01887-05 
application; (2) claimed that he was continuing to conduct grant-funded 
research in her laboratory; (3) forged the signature of the MGH institutional 
official to avoid detection by MGH; and then (4) submitted the completed 
application directly to NIH on or about August 1, 2000.

Dr. Jacoby's actions amount to significant and serious falsifications in the 
proposing and reporting of research.  His falsifications gave NIH reviewers 
inaccurate information for their evaluation of the progress made by the 
research group at MGH in its PHS-supported research.  His falsifications also 
substantially hindered the progress of the PHS-funded research project.  
Finally, his falsifications induced NIH to conditionally approve Dr. Jacoby's 
5 K08 NS01887-05 grant at a time when he was no longer conducting research.

Accordingly, PHS further finds that Dr. Jacoby engaged in a pattern of 
dishonest conduct through the commission of 15 acts of data falsification and 
plagiarism, including additional steps taken to conceal the true nature and 
origin of the research data, that further demonstrates a lack of present 
responsibility to be a steward of Federal funds.

Dr. Jacoby has entered into a Voluntary Exclusion Agreement with PHS in which 
he has voluntarily agreed for a period of five (5) years, beginning on June 
12, 2001:  (1) to exclude himself from any contracting or subcontracting with 
any agency of the United States Government and from eligibility for, or 
involvement in, nonprocurement transactions (e.g., grants and cooperative 
agreements) of the United States Government as defined in 45 C.F.R. Part 76 
(Debarment Regulations); [and] (2) to exclude himself from serving in any 
advisory capacity to PHS, including but not limited to service on any PHS 
advisory committee, board, and/or peer review committee, or as a consultant.


For further information contact:

Division of Investigative Oversight
Office of Research Integrity
5515 Security Lane, Suite 700
Rockville, MD  20852
Telephone:  (301) 443-5330

Return to Volume Index

Return to NIH Guide Main Index

Office of Extramural Research (OER) - Home Page Office of Extramural
Research (OER)
  National Institutes of Health (NIH) - Home Page National Institutes of Health (NIH)
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
  Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) - Home Page Department of Health
and Human Services (HHS) - Government Made Easy

Note: For help accessing PDF, RTF, MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Audio or Video files, see Help Downloading Files.