Bad News in Biology
In the late 1980s, Caltech, one of the nation's premier research institutions, was stunned when two apparently unrelated instances of research misconduct showed up in the laboratory of one of its star performers, biologist Leroy E. Hood. Accused of misconduct were Vipin Kumar, a recent graduate of the prestigious Indian Institute of Science, who had come to Caltech from an initial postdoctoral appointment at Harvard University, and James L. Urban, a trained pathologist who had by then gotten his Caltech Ph.D. with Professor Hood and moved on to a regular faculty position at the University of Chicago.1
Kumar and Urban had started work in the Hood group at about the same time—initially working together, but then independently, in a hot area of immunology having to do with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. They were both under intense pressure and worked long hours, drawing praise for their dedication from Hood. Others in the group had in fact accused them of doing “sloppy science,”2 but when Hood looked into these allegations he declared them to be baseless. Hood, who was a careful scientist, tended to believe that everyone else was equally scrupulous, and he therefore was inclined to discount such assertions.
Hood himself was never accused of misconduct, but in the wake of the allegations he swung into action immediately, send-