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Fri Dec 20, 2019, 05:39 AM

Department Of Justice Reaches $5.5 Million Settlement With Van Andel Research Institute To Resolve

Department Of Justice Reaches $5.5 Million Settlement With Van Andel Research Institute To Resolve Allegations Of Undisclosed Chinese Grants To Two Researchers

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice announced today that Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) has agreed to pay $5,500,000.00 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by submitting federal grant applications and progress reports to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in which VARI failed to disclose Chinese government grants that funded two VARI researchers. The settlement further resolves allegations that in a Dec. 21, 2018 letter, VARI made certain factual representations to NIH with deliberate ignorance or reckless disregard for the truth regarding the Chinese grants.

Andrew Birge, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, said, “Our local institutions, like VARI, serve a vital role in raising West Michigan’s profile as a national player in cutting-edge biomedical research, but institutions everywhere must deal honestly and transparently when applying for U.S. government funding and respond appropriately when compliance issues arise. It’s unfair to other grant applicants and to the NIH for any institution to withhold requested information about whether the research that an institution wants the NIH to support may be getting funding from outside sources, specifically including foreign governments. False Claims Act penalties are harsh by design. I sincerely hope the word gets out on the importance of full disclosure with the government.”

“It is imperative that recipients of NIH grant funds properly report all sources of research support, financial interests and affiliations of individual researchers to ensure the proper and effective use of taxpayer dollars,” said Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge of HHS-OIG’s Chicago Region. “HHS-OIG will continue to investigate allegations of failures to properly report information to ensure the integrity of Departmental programs.”

Obtaining research funding from NIH is a highly competitive process, with only a small portion of eligible applications receiving funding each year. Nondisclosures and false statements to granting agencies are especially harmful because they distort competition, disadvantage applicants who play by the rules, and undermine agencies’ decision-making on the use of their limited resources.

Read more: https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdmi/pr/2019_1219_VARI

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