Findings Of Scientific Misconduct

Notice Number: NOT-OD-06-059

Key Dates
Release Date: April 04, 2006

Issued by
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

Notice is hereby given that the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) and the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health have taken final action in the following case: Notice is hereby given that on February 28, 2006, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Debarring Official, on behalf of the Secretary of HHS, issued a final notice of debarment based on the scientific misconduct findings of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) in the following case:

Susan M. Aronica, PhD, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis: Based on the evidence and findings of an investigation report by Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and additional analysis conducted by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) in its oversight review, ORI found that Susan M. Aronica, Ph.D., former Postdoctoral Student/Fellow, IUPUI, committed 21 acts of scientific misconduct by knowingly and intentionally falsifying and fabricating data in her notebooks, in 17 figures and figure panels, in two tables published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (J. Biol. Chem. 270:21998-22007, 1995) and Blood (Blood 89:3582-3595, 1997), and in two figures in a manuscript submitted for publication to Blood in August 1997.

ORI issued a charge letter enumerating the above findings of scientific misconduct. However, Dr. Aronica requested a hearing to dispute these findings to the Departmental Appeals Board. Based upon the insufficiency of Dr. Aronica's hearing request, ORI filed a Motion to Dismiss.

On February 10, 2006, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) ruled in ORI's favor by dismissing Dr. Aronica's request for a hearing. ORI's research misconduct regulation specifically delineates the requisite content for an acceptable hearing request. A sustainable hearing request must admit or deny each finding of research misconduct, and each denial must be detailed and substantive. 42 CFR 93.501(c). Dr. Aronica's hearing request contained only a general denial of the proposed findings. The regulation states that a general denial is not sufficient to establish a genuine dispute. 42 CFR 93.503. The regulation also states that the ALJ must dismiss a hearing request if the respondent does not raise a genuine dispute over facts or law material to the research misconduct findings. 42 CFR 93.504(a)(2). The ALJ concluded that the determination of whether the hearing request raises a genuine dispute is a threshold jurisdictional determination. Thus, the ALJ decided that Dr. Aronica's request did not show a genuine dispute, because it did not specifically deny any allegation. As a result, the ALJ concluded that Dr. Aronica's hearing request could not be granted, but was required to be dismissed pursuant to 42 CFR 93.504(a)(2).

Specifically, ORI found that Dr. Aronica falsified and fabricated data in:

The research was supported by or reported in the following U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) grants from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health:

The following administrative actions have been implemented:

(1) Dr. Aronica has been debarred from any contracting or subcontracting with any agency of the United States Government and from eligibility or involvement in nonprocurement programs of the United States Government referred to as ``covered transactions'' as defined in the debarment regulations at 45 CFR part 76 for a period of five (5) years, beginning on February 10, 2006;

(2) Dr. Aronica is prohibited 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 consultant for a period of five (5) years, beginning on February 10, 2006; and

(3) Within 60 days of February 10, 2006, the authors of the following papers will be requested to submit a letter to the editors of Journal of Biological Chemistry and Blood, requesting their retraction of:


For Further Information Contact:
Director Division of Investigative
Oversight Office of Research Integrity
1101 Wootton Parkway, Suite 750
Rockville, MD 20852
(240) 453-8800


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