Prominent Duke Cancer Researcher Put On Leave Over Allegedly Embellishing Credentials

A cancer genomics researcher at Duke University has been put on leave after administrators learned that he falsely claimed to have been a Rhodes scholar. The school took the action after The Cancer Letter, a Washington D.C., newsletter, investigated Anil Potti's claims of having been a Rhodes scholar on several grant applications. The newsletter reported online Thursday that it learned from the Rhodes Trust that Potti never received the prestigious award, which is given for study at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Potti explained in an e-mail sent to the newsletter that he was a nominee for the scholarship, The Cancer Letter reports. The newsletter was also unable to confirm other details in various Potti biographies, including two awards he claimed to have received from cancer research organizations. On Friday, Duke officials told the The News & Observer that they have put Potti on administrative leave while they investigate the allegations.

The American Cancer Society also suspended payments on a $729,000 research grant to Potti.

Potti is a co-investigator on research at Duke led by Joseph Nevins on using gene-expression arrays to predict a cancer patient's response to chemotherapy. Two outside statisticians have found serious errors in key publications by the Duke group, according to The Cancer Letter.