Harvard Dentistry Professor Cleared of Research Misconduct
BOSTON A Harvard review has found that a dentistry professor did not commit research misconduct while looking into potential links between fluoride in drinking water and a rare form of bone cancer.
The Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, filed an ethics complaint against Chester Douglass, a professor of oral health policy and epidemiology at Harvard's School of Dental Medicine, in 2005, claiming he downplayed research that showed an increased risk of the bone cancer osteosarcoma for boys who drink fluoridated tap water.
An inquiry panel and the Standing Committee on Faculty Conduct at Harvard, both made up of senior faculty, conducted reviews of Douglass. They concluded he "did not intentionally omit, misrepresent or suppress research findings," the Harvard Medical School and School of Dental Medicine said in a news release Tuesday.
EWG also claimed there was a conflict of interest because of Douglass' work as editor of The Colgate Oral Health Report, a quarterly newsletter funded by Colgate-Palmolive Co., which makes fluoridated toothpaste. The Harvard review found no conflict of interest.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Research Integrity, which oversees misconduct reviews, said there would be no further investigation. Douglass' case was closed, Harvard Medical School spokesman John Lacey said.
Richard Wiles, EWG's senior vice president, criticized the review, saying it should have been more open. A phone message left for Douglass was not immediately returned.
Source: Associated Press