The New York Times is reporting that federal investigators uncovered the existence of some crazy shit at a prestigious Columbia brain-scanning lab: Scientists regularly injected patients with a commonly used low-level radioactive substance that might have had traces of dangerous chemicals. Then some staffers tried to cover it up by forging documents. Um!
An internal investigation released on July 6 concluded that no one appears to have been harmed—many of the studies focused on imaging the brains of schizophrenics and other people with serious mood disorders—but the research at the lab, the Kreitchman PET Center on 168th street, is on hiatus, and some heads have already rolled. David I. Hirsh, Columbia’s executive vice president for research who, according to a letter from PrezBo posted in the comments, resigned on July 9 and will step down when a successor is named, told the Times, “we are fundamentally reorganizing the lab’s management and operations in response to what the F.D.A. told us.”
More from the article (which, as of now, is the top story on the Times home page):
The F.D.A.’s latest investigation, which took place from Jan. 5 to Jan. 21, listed six categories of violations. It found that since 2007, “at least 10 batches” of drugs had been “released and injected into human subjects” with impurities that exceeded the level the lab had agreed to set. At least four injections “had impurity masses that more than doubled the maximum limit implemented.”
The report highlighted an equation that the lab routinely used, resulting in injections that exceeded the limit for acceptable impurities. The lab did not adequately check “the identity, strength and purity of each active ingredient prior to release” for injection into patients, the report said.
The first building to go up in Manhattanville will be the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, which will be used for brain research. Budum-ching!
In the words of our tipster: you stay classy, Columbia.