The Washington Post incorrectly reported yesterday that Dr. Marc J. Straus acknowledged in an agreement with the National Institutes of Health that he had falsified research reports. Straus, the first researcher punished by the NIH under two-year-old regulations to curb scientific fraud, acknowledged that false reports were submitted to the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group, but he maintains that the false data were created by disgruntled subordinates. The article also left the impression that allegations of fraud applied to other chemotherapy research done by Straus on small-cell lung cancer. The allegations applied only to work done for the oncology group. The article also incorrectly reported that one allegation against Straus was that his research reports invented a tumor in a patient who had none.
The National Intitutes of Health took steps yesterday to punish a cancer researcher with the most severe penalty the agency has ever given for scientific fraud.
The action, taken against Dr. Marc J. Straus, was the first use by the NIH of debarment regulations enacted two years ago. The debarment will prevent Straus from getting federal funds for at least four years, and other regulations will prevent him from using experimental drugs.
Straus agreed to the debarment and acknowledged that he had falsified reports, used incorrect drug doses and used patients who were ineligible in a study of new cancer drugs at Boston University Medical Center, according to an NIH spokesman.
The agreement Straus signed waives his right to a hearing, officials said.
Straus, 38, used experimental cancer drugs under NIH sponsorship in a study for the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group.
But two years after resigning because of charges raised against him he received another $910,000 federal cancer study grant.
Straus signed the agreement with the Food and Drug Administration and the NIH. The debarment action is intended to prevent him from getting Health and Human Services Department funding or experimental drugs, which are under FDA supervision. Federal officials do not plan criminal prosecution.
While at Boston University, Straus devised a chemotherapy regimen that he claimed produced remission in 93 percent of patients with small-cell lung cancer, a particularly virulent and quick-killing form of the disease.
Five junior members of his staff said reports on the treatment contained repeated falsifications of data, ranging from changing birth dates to recording treatments and lab studies that were never done and inventing a tumor in a patient who had none.
Straus, then insisting he did not know about the falsifications and saying he was a victim of conspiracy by his staff, resigned from Boston University on June 30, 1978.