Research project funds given by felon
Editor's note: The following statement was issued Feb. 2, 2012 by Nancy Mergler, senior vice president and provost — "ThermoLife International Inc. entered into two agreements with the University of Oklahoma and Dr. Chad Kerksick regarding the [research] studies. These two studies were well underway and were terminated after review by the University through no fault of ThermoLife or its officers, directors, employees and shareholders. At the time the studies were terminated by the University, the University did not inform ThermoLife of the reason for the termination or of the accusations against University personnel involved in the studies. The University did not conclude that ThermoLife tried to manipulate or did manipulate these studies or that it was in any way responsible for any wrongdoing associated with the studies."
An OU department engaged in research during spring 2011 sponsored by a company that was run by a convicted felon.
Health and exercise science professor Chad Kerksick was paid $75,000 to resign after being accused of conducting unethical research on students and violating approved protocols.
Accusations include performing biopsies on graduate students and submitting himself into a research study, which violates Institutional Review Board rules.
Kerksick’s studies were with the company ThermoLife to test whether its creatine nitrate exercise supplement enhanced performance. Kerksick was contracted with ThermoLife through the OU review board.
ThermoLife’s president, Ron Kramer, was convicted of dealing steroids in San Mateo, Calif., in 1997, according to court documents. Since then, Kramer worked as an informant for the government and served probation.
Kramer “worked his little fingers to the bone as an informant and general source of information for the Narcotics Task Force on steroid related offenses,” according to a report filed by Kramer’s lawyer to terminate his probation.
Kramer denied working as an informant in a 2004 New York Times story about the investigation of Kramer’s former business partner.
In Arizona, where ThermoLife is based, Kramer also has been taken to court for aggravated assault, endangerment, possession of marijuana and paraphernalia and aggravated DUI between 2004 and 2009, according to court records.
Kramer pled guilty to the marijuana violation and endangerment charge, but the aggravated assault, aggravated DUI and paraphernalia violations charges were dismissed.
ThermoLife also was contacted by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002 for using unnatural ingredients in other exercise products and not receiving approval for a new drug.
Before research is conducted at the university, professors must submit an application to the review board, which either is reviewed by the chair or vice chair or the full board at its next general meeting.
“Who reviews it depends on the level of risk of the project,” said Faustina Layne, director of the OU-Norman board.
Layne did not have information on approval of sponsored research, which is handled by the Health Sciences Center board.
Vice President of research Kelvin Droegemeir said in an email the university does check potential business partners. The university screens the business for international security purposes, checks to see if the business has been debarred or suspended and is current on its payments if it was a previous partner
"The University makes every effort to assess the risk associated with doing business with any entity, public or private, before entering into agreements of any kind," Droegemeir said in an email.