Researcher defends work during defamation trial

June 03, 1993|By Robert A. Erlandson | Robert A. Erlandson,Staff Writer

Gerald M. Rosen testified yesterday that he had no reason to falsify research data in scientific papers, and he blamed "mistakes" in his published works on the inherent chaos of a busy laboratory.

Dr. Rosen, who is fighting for his professional reputation as chairman of the department of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, was the final witness in his defamation suit against a former research associate, Carmen M. Arroyo.

Dr. Arroyo, who worked in Dr. Rosen's lab, alleged that he fabricated data in papers included in applications for federal grants without doing the experiments and used the results of her research without giving her credit. Researcher Alasdair Carmichael, Dr. Arroyo's husband, is a co-defendant.

Dr. Rosen and Dr. Arroyo are among a small group of scientists who work in the field of free radicals, fleeting compounds whose presence is recorded on a machine and which are thought to be important in the human disease process.

Dr. Rosen told a six-woman jury in Baltimore County Circuit Court that graduate and postdoctoral students in his laboratory did the experiments under his supervision, and sometimes he repeated them for confirmation. These assistants prepared the material for the articles, including the illustrations, which he reviewed before they were submitted for publication.

Dr. Arroyo and several other researchers in the field testified that a number of papers in which Dr. Rosen participated used the same graphs to illustrate completely different experiments, which they called scientific fraud.

Ronald P. Mason of the National Institute of Environmental Science in North Carolina testified Tuesday that he tried unsuccessfully to reproduce Dr. Rosen's experiments using the published data and eventually concluded that the work had not been done.

But Dr. Rosen testified yesterday that his students' notebooks contained proof that the experiments were completed and that he had repeated them himself.

Scientists commonly cannot replicate another's work because of differences in the design of the experiments, Dr. Rosen said. He said Dr. Mason's own experiment on potential liver damage from the pain-reliever acetaminophen differed from that reported by a student, and different results could be expected.

Dr. Rosen said he erred by not labeling the graphs as "representative" of the experiments instead of allowing the captions to pinpoint them to specific experiments.

He also argued that the text of his articles was the important part because it contained in tabular form all the numerical data for each experiment.

Judge Joseph F. Murphy was expected to send the case to the jury today.

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