A former public health researcher for the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) was recently found to have “engaged in research misconduct” after apparently faking data on the incidence of Colostridium difficile infections in Klamath County, OR. The finding was released Friday, May 29, 2015, by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ORI completed an oversight review of OHA’s investigation into the situation involving Ryan Asherin, a former OHA surveillance officer and principal investigator who reportedly left his job there in August 2011.
“ORI found that the Respondent falsified and/or fabricated fifty-six (56) case report forms (CRFs) while acquiring data on the incidence of Clostridium difficile infections in Klamath County, Oregon. Specifically, the Respondent (1) fabricated responses to multiple questions on the CRFs for patient demographic data, patient health information, and Clostridium difficile infection data, including the diagnoses of toxic megacolon and ileus and the performance of a colectomy, with no evidence in patient medical records to support the responses; and (2) falsified the CRFs by omitting data on the CRFs that clearly were included in patient medical records,” the finding stated.
The OHA research involving Asherin was supported by an Emerging Infections Program Grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
ORI further noted that Asherin had falsified and/or fabricated data included in CDC’s research record, in a published CDC document (a March 2012 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report), in a manuscript submitted to the Journal of the American Medical Association, and in two public presentations. The reports have since been retracted.
In a two-year settlement agreement announced Friday, Asherin agreed to have any U.S. Public Health Service-supported research in which he participates supervised to ensure its scientific integrity, and that he will not participate in any such research until a supervision plan is submitted to and approved by ORI.
In addition, any institution Asherin works for involving PHS-supported research must submit a certification to ORI that any data he provides are based on actual experiments, are legitimately derived, and are accurately reported. He also may not serve in any PHS advisory capacity for the two-year agreement period starting May 12, 2015.