University of Pittsburgh immunologist Karen Norris' lab discovers that immunocompromised monkeys with natural antibodies to a pneumocystis protein called kexin are protected from infection by the fungus. Jay Kolls arrives at the University of Pittsburgh from Louisiana State University and assumes a pediatrics professorship at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC for the next five years.
Dr. Kolls begins four-year service as a member of Heather Kling's dissertation committee.
Dr. Kolls returns to LSU for the next three years, but continues to serve on Dr. Kling's doctoral committee.
Dr. Kolls seeks a federal P01 research grant from the National Institutes of Health, citing research from the Norris lab. He also submits a federal STTR small business grant application to set up a company called MiniVax that also cites material from the Norris lab.
September: Dr. Kolls returns to Pittsburgh to head the Richard King Mellon Foundation Institute for Pediatric Research at Children's, funded with a $23 million grant. In a letter to Jerome Rosenberg, Pitt research integrity officer, Dr. Norris cites specific allegations of misconduct regarding Dr. Kolls' use of her research in both grant applications and a patent application for a pneumocystis vaccine.
November: Mr. Rosenberg writes a letter to Dr. Norris saying that Arthur Levine, Pitt senior vice chancellor for the health sciences, has found Dr. Kolls guilty of research misconduct. The letter lays out specific remedial steps Dr. Kolls is to take.
February: Dr. Norris contacts then-Pitt licensing officer Michelle Booden to complain about misuse of the research in Dr. Kolls' patent application for a pneumocystis vaccine.
July: Ms. Booden conducts a patent analysis along with LSU patent attorney John Runnels. In conference calls, Dr. Norris and Dr. Kling reiterate charges their research was improperly used by Dr. Kolls to seek a patent; Dr. Kolls denies their work was used. Dr. Norris sends a letter to Mr. Rosenberg with new complaints about fraud in Dr. Kolls' patent application and business startup.
November: Dr. Norris writes a letter to the University Senate Committee on Tenure and Academic Freedom, seeking an investigation into apparent departures by Pitt from university policy in handling her misconduct complaints.
March: The Tenure and Academic Freedom Committee writes a letter to Dr. Norris citing several shortcomings of Pitt's research integrity office in its investigation of her complaints, and notes that a separate inquiry committee to look into Dr. Kolls' actions has been established.
July: A Pitt faculty committee decides that Dr. Kolls is not guilty of research misconduct in the case, but of the lesser charge of research improprieties, an assessment that Dr. Levine concurs with.
August: Pitt officials ask the U.S. Patent Office to add Dr. Norris and Dr. Kling to the patent application for a pneumocystis vaccine.
January: Drs. Norris and Kling file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, asking for a declaratory judgment giving them sole intellectual property rights to a pneumocystis vaccine, and claiming Drs. Kolls and Zheng had stolen their research and made up other research results to apply for a patent.
First Published May 26, 2013 12:00 AM