Archive

ShareThis Page
Feds: Pitt researcher faked research docs for more than $2M in federal funding | TribLIVE.com
Allegheny

Feds: Pitt researcher faked research docs for more than $2M in federal funding

Megan Guza
| Wednesday, March 21, 2018 12:36 p.m
ptrLRDC
The University of Pittsburgh's Learning Research and Development Center in Oakland

A University of Pittsburgh professor accused of faking approval for human subject research to gain federal funding reached a settlement with the government that will cost more than $100,000 and bar him from obtaining grant research money.

Christian Schunn, a Pitt professor and researcher in education and psychology, will pay $132,027 to resolve allegations he violated the False Claims Act, according to a release from U.S. Attorney Scott Brady. He is also not allowed to apply for federal research grants through Oct. 15, 2019.

Schunn could not be reached for comment.

When research involves human subjects, the National Science Foundation, which awards grant money for research, requires that approval of the research by an institutional review board. The board is charged with making sure the rights and welfare of the human subjects are protected.

According to the release, between 2006 and 2016, Schunn faked numerous institutional review board approval documents in proposals for NSF funding — funding that totaled more than $2.3 million, Brady said.

Schunn has received more than two dozen awards from NSF since 1998 totaling more than $50 million. His resume on Pitt’s Learning Research & Development Center website indicates he has worked for the university since 2001. He worked at George Mason University from 1998 to 2001. His personal website says he has co-authored two books about research and cognitive science.

A Pitt spokesman said the university had “nothing to share” regarding Schunn’s settlement and declined to say whether Schunn remains employed.

“Federally funded research involving human subjects requires IRB approval to ensure that the research is conducted safely, appropriately, and consensually,” said Allison Lerner, inspector general with the National Science Foundation. “Circumventing the IRB process by submitting false IRB approvals, as Dr. Schunn did, not only has the potential to place human subjects at risk, but is also an affront to the integrity one expects from a scientific researcher.”

The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability, Brady said.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Revew staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.