Response to UIC research issue
Dear Campus Community,
You may have read recent media reports about a long-time faculty member at UIC, Dr. Mani Pavuluri, and her research involving minors. Dr. Pavuluri is a tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry in the College of Medicine. We want to share with you what has been done since the issue was first identified in 2013.
Following an unanticipated event during a study, a review and audit of the investigator’s research was initiated by the UIC Institutional Review Board (IRB). Based on audit findings, the UIC IRB found the investigator, Dr. Pavuluri, to be in non-compliance with federal and university research policies.
UIC self-reported the onset of its investigation to all necessary federal agencies and as a result, three research studies were immediately stopped. A letter was subsequently sent to approximately 350 study subjects, or their parents/guardians, informing them of the research non-compliance. The UIC IRB also suspended all research protocols involving this investigator.
In compliance with federal and university policies, an inquiry and, subsequently, a formal investigation of the allegations of research misconduct were undertaken by UIC. UIC submitted its findings of the internal research misconduct investigation in October 2015. Based on the results of the initial audit, UIC put a hold on Dr. Pavuluri’s research, and at the conclusion of the internal investigation, UIC suspended all of Dr. Pavuluri’s research activities indefinitely. Dr. Pavuluri has not resumed any clinical research studies since 2013.
A detailed external audit was conducted by three DHHS agencies in July 2014, which determined that the human subjects’ research at UIC did not have any systemic issues of lax research oversight and was performed upholding the highest standards in ethical and responsible research conduct. Hence, the case of Dr. Pavuluri’s research misconduct is believed to be an isolated event.
The case that is the subject of media reports remains an open investigation with the DHHS Office of Research Integrity.
In December 2017, UIC repaid $3.1 million to the NIH for one of Dr. Pavuluri’s research grants. UIC had also returned unexpended funds in three of her grants – including this one – in 2013. This is the only time in its history that the UIC has had to reimburse grant funds due to human subjects noncompliance.
The non-compliance related only to Dr. Pavuluri’s research work. A review of her clinical practice demonstrated high quality patient care with appropriate clinical documentation.
UIC’s research office provides continuing education and training to our research community, in addition to routine re-evaluations of each research protocol and random audits of clinical trials. In fact, Dr. Pavuluri participated in a number of training sessions before and during her research work. We take these matters very seriously and we are committed to adhering to the highest standards for research integrity — particularly regarding research issues involving minors — and to comply with all federal, state and university regulations.
Mitra Dutta, PhD
Vice Chancellor for Research
Anand Kumar, MD
Lizzie Gilman Professor and Head of the Department of Psychiatry