Aug 9, 2010
Defense attorneys for the perpetrator of one of the largest research frauds in history have claimed that their client, Scott S. Reuben, MD, suffered from “serious, but undiagnosed” bipolar disorder that led him to fabricate data and otherwise falsify his research.
Reuben graduated from medical school in 1985, and soon became a widely published and cited pain researcher. By 2009, he had published at least 72 research studies, and his work had led to a major change in the way pain is treated. But a routine audit in 2008 at Baystate Medical Center, where Reuben had worked since 1991, uncovered discrepancies in Reuben’s research. This led to allegations that Reuben had not actually conducted many (or even any) of the studies that his supposedly groundbreaking findings had been based on.
More than 20 of Reuben’s papers have since been retracted. He has pleaded guilty to fabricating data and patients, and has also been accused of adding the names of uninvolved co-authors without their permission. He has agreed to repay $361,932 in research funding to several pharmaceutical companies, and $50,000 in penalties to the U.S. government.
Seeking a light sentence for Reuben — who faces up to 10 years in prison for his crimes — defense attorneys have argued that his undiagnosed bipolar disorder caused Reuben to commit suicide twice, be hospitalized three times, and fabricate his data.
Yet many of Reuben’s colleagues questioned this story.
“To my knowledge, nobody in the department was aware … that he had any mental illness,” said anesthesiologist Steven Dunn, MD, of Baystate.
Glenn J. Treisman, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, expressed skepticism that Reuben, an MD married to a psychiatrist, could suffer from undiagnosed bipolar disorder for so long.
“By the time someone’s tried suicide twice, their psychiatrist wife would have known something was going on,” he said.
This article was posted: Monday, August 9, 2010 at 3:34 am