Kenneth Jones,a professor at Brandeis University, was a participant in a program project grant involving early detection of Alzheimer’s disease in a group of test patients. The multimillion dollar program project grant involved had been funded over many years with several groups at various institutions in the Boston area participating. Jones served as statistician on one aspect of the grant. The studies involved a comparison of 2 areas of the brain, one of which changes in volume in Alzheimer patients. The MRI data reported in the grant renewal application showed a significant difference in the ratios between the two areas in the early Alzheimer’s patients compared with the normal age-matched controls. This finding would presumably have a positive impact on the funding decision. Jones learned later that earlier measurements had been recorded that did not show the difference in the ratios. These earlier measurements of the control subjects ratios were not significantly different from those of the Alzheimer patients. The defendants had not informed the NIH that the data had been changed and Jones believed that, had the NIH known, the grant would not have been funded. As a result, he brought a qui tam suit against the Brigham and Women’s, the Massachusetts General Hospitals and 2 co-defendants, one of whom, Ronald J Killiany, PhD, is a member of the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at Boston University who appears to have read the MRIs and the other, Marilyn S Albert, PhD, a member of the Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Medical School. Dr Albert has a long grant history reaching back over many years and representing several million dollars of government funding. The program project grant had been running for 23 years when it apparently terminated in 2008.
Qui tqm is a law suit filed by a relator (basically a whistle blower) on behalf of the government charging that the government has been defrauded monetarily. Jones originally filed his case in 2007. He lost in the District Court in Boston and he and his attorneys appealed. Their appeal was successful and the case was remanded back to the same District Court and the same judge. Jones opted for a jury trial. The case was heard over 12 court days starting on March 18, 2013 and ending on April 9, 2013. In the end, the jury was charged with answering 2 questions:
The records of these proceedings are available at www.pacer.gov (Public Access to Court Electronic Records). The case number is 1: 07-cv-11461-WGY. Records can be downloaded at 10 cents a page. The final documents will not be available until mid-July, 2013. The decision to appeal has not yet been made by the plaintiff and his lawyers. The odds of winning are not good: 1 to 2 in 10. There have been few cases of this nature that have been filed as qui tam and most have not been successful. This may have been the first to go to trial, let alone jury trial.