OU clears professor of two allegations tied to research work
OU administrators have confirmed that an OU professor and researcher did not falsify his research records or receive any improper payment for his experiments.
Health and exercise science professor Chad Kerksick began studying creatine nitrate, an exercise supplement, in February 2011. In June 2011, the Institutional Review Board began investigating the study and the lab practices after graduate students filed complaints.
• January 2006: OU hires Chad Kerksick
• February 2011: Studies on creatine nitrate supplement began
• April 2011: Complaints filed against Kerksick
• June 30, 2011: Institutional Review Board terminates study and completes investigation
• Aug. 31, 2011: Kerksick signs settlement agreement for $75,000
• December 2011: OU relieves some of confidentiality agreement
As a result of the investigation, OU offered Kerksick $75,000 to resign after a yearlong leave of absence.
As part of this settlement, Kerksick and OU were bound to confidentiality clauses, but OU recently relieved some restrictions to allow Kerksick a chance to respond to criticism.
Kerksick and his lawyer, George Freedman of Edmond, said OU did not find that he had falsified any of his research or received improper payment for it, two parts of the complaints against Kerksick.
Faustina Layne , director of the Institutional Review Board , verified that he did not falsify records.
The settlement of $75,000 was “simply that to which [Kerksick] was entitled to under his contract,” Freedman said. “Let’s leave it at that. And the contract refers to … his employment contract.”
The Daily requested Kerksick’s contract in November and received the signed letter from Kerksick’s hiring, which did not mention payments beyond salary and start-up funds.
Part of Kerksick’s research involved taking samples of participants’ muscle with a needle, according to the protocol submitted to the review board.
OU graduate student and Kerksick’s lab assistant Patrick Dib complained of extensive bruising around the site after a sample was taken. Dib also alleged Kerksick coerced his graduate assistants to get biopsies done as a means to study them.
OU business professor Jeff Schmidt, who participated in a different study, said he experienced bruising and pain for two weeks after the biopsy but did not file a complaint. He said he did not feel properly informed of the biopsy or its effects.
Kerksick had performed more than 300 of these biopsies at OU and only received one official complaint, he said.
“The procedures are not considered medical procedures,” Kerksick said. “They are considered research procedures, so a licensed medical practitioner isn’t required to do them.”
There is no official training program for these biopsies, but the review board approved all protocols, Kerksick said. The board also approved consent forms submitted before biopsies began, which outlined that participants might have bruising or muscle weakness or tenderness.
He declined comment on coercion or uninformed participation in the studies.
Kerksick enrolled himself as a participant in the study, according to the complaint filed against him.
This did not compromise the integrity of the research because he did not know which supplement he was taking, Kerksick said. He was not aware this was a violation of any protocol.
In the review board handbook on human participation in studies, the first sentence says researchers are discouraged from participating in their own studies and must receive approval to do so.
Corrections: A subhead in the print version of this story incorrectly stated professor Chad Kerksick already had resigned after a yearlong absence. In fact, Kerksick has not resigned yet. He will resign in June, when his leave is over.