A Harvard associate professor of medicine who supervised Scheffer C.G. Tseng's allegedly fraudulent and improper research has taken an indefinite leave of absence at the request of his colleagues.
Associate Professor of Medicine Kenneth R. Kenyon '65 last week stepped down from his administrative posts at the Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary because of several investigations into experiments conducted under Kenyon's supervision by Tseng, a former ophthalmology fellow.
Kenyon, who could not be reached for comment, will continue to practice at the hospital and remain a researcher at the Eye Research Institute, a private group with ties to Mass. Eye and Ear, said spokesperson Mary Brotman.
Brotman confirmed that the senior members of the Harvard Ophthalmology Department at Mass. Eye and Ear voted last week to recommend that Kenyon step down.
Brotman would not say who had assumed Kenyon's duties as director of cornea service, associate chief of ophthalmology and director of the infirmary's fellowship program.
Tseng allegedly gave nearly 300 patients an eye ointment not approved for human use while he and Kenyon helped to organize a company to manufacture and market the drug. Tseng is being investigated for alleged stock manipulation as well as research fraud.
Two congressional committees and several medical schools are currently investigating Tseng's allegedly fraudulent research. Harvard and Mass. Eye and Ear conducted investigations into the matter earlier this year. The University is still examining the long-term aspects of the case, the third instance of major medical research fraud at Harvard since 1981.
Tseng and his family earned more than $1 million from his stock in Spectra Pharmaceutical Services, the company that manufactured his Vitamin Aointment, according to the Boston Globe. Kenyonalso owned stock in the company but gave up hisprofits after a Medical School study found thatprofiting from the stock represented a conflict ofinterest, the Globe reported.
Both Kenyon and Tseng studied at Johns Hopkinsunder A. Edward Maumenee, who later became Spectrachairperson and chief stockholder. Kenyon,Maunumee and the latter's wife assisted Tseng inwriting a lead article that promoted the drug inScientific American.
After investigations of Tseng's experiment bythe infirmary and the Med School, Dean of theMedical School Daniel C. Tosteson '46 issued astatement earlier this year saying that Kenyon's"supervision was insufficient."
Meanwhile Harvard administrators are coming toterms with the questions this case, and the twowhich preceeded it, raise about the Med School'smonitoring methods.
"I feel really terribly badly about each of thecases that arises, and I have personally spent agood deal of time talking to the Medical Schoolfaculty in each instance about how to makechanges," President Bok said yesterday.
After John R. Darsee confessed to falsifyingheart attack experiments in 1981, the MedicalSchool set up new guidelines to prevent researchfraud. The school also has rules to preventconflicts of interest.
"The problem in this case was that thereporting guidelines were not met, so we were notalerted to the fact that the post-doc [Tseng] hada financial interest," Bok said.
However, Bok said the school will try to beefup its enforcement procedures. "We will look intothe question of added measures we could have takenand could be taking in the future, but the realissue is that we have rules which were notimplemented, so we need to look at how to enforcethe existing rules more effectively," he said.
Bok said that because the Med School is a muchlarger institution than any of the otherfaculties, it is much harder to control.Furthermore, many faculty members also work forprivate and semi-private research companies--likethe Eye Research Institute--that are often outsideof the University's control.
"Statistically it only takes a couple of casesa year to create an atmosphere of constantmalfeasance, and yet with thousands of professorsin wholly independent institutions it is almostimpossible to try to implement any measures thatwill bring the incidences down to zero," Bok said