October 10, 2013

Editor: The decision by the administration of SUNY Upstate Medical University to publicize the decision by the journal Stem Cells to retract an article from my laboratory is part of a transparent retaliatory campaign to defame my scientific credentials in the press and to my scientific colleagues. The actions of the administration are shameful. All of the data in all published manuscripts from the members of my laboratory is valid and sound, and is not falsified or fabricated. The former Director of the SUNY UMU Flow Cytometry core facility, who oversaw the collection of flow cytometry data, confirmed this fact. While the journal Stem Cells retracts any publication when the corresponding university requests a retraction, UMU administration would like your readers to believe (incorrectly) that Stem Cells' decision to retract its previous publication somehow reflects that journal has verified UMU's allegations. It reflects no such thing. In truth, the federal Office of Research Integrity (ORI) has not yet ruled on these allegations. The motives of UMU's administration are clear. UMU sought to fire me from my long-time position as a professor, but two separate jurists found in my favor -- first an arbitrator and then the New York Supreme Court – and forced UMU to reinstate me. Those jurists found, among other things: “Feuer did not operate in secret and the Upstate administration either knew or should have known he was engaging in offensive conduct. The Upstate administration delayed deciding whether Feuer’s work with his private company conflicted with his job at Upstate. “Feuer constantly and actively sought guidance from Upstate administrators.” “The record of proof does not sufficiently establish the most serious allegations that Dr. Feuer committed theft, or that he intentionally used research facilities, personnel and funds for private gain, and without the knowledge or consent of the University.” It was also determined that University administrators, including President David Smith and former Vice President for Research Dr. Steven Goodman, were not only aware of, but were supportive and promoting Humurine Technologies as an example of successful translation of basic biomedical research into economic growth for Upstate New York: “The delay in addressing and finalizing, or ultimately rejecting, the Humurine subcontracts was in material respects the result of inaction by University administrators.” “The administration initially supported his plans, but once it determined there was a conflict, Feuer was not immediately told about it.” Still, unwilling to abide by the rule of law, and unable to terminate my employment, UMU's

administration is now engaging in a smear campaign to try to pressure me to give up my faculty position. I have battled numerous false allegations by this administration for three years now and have even been subjected to harassment at my home. The draconian and bungled response in confiscating and securing my laboratory in September of 2010, and the subsequent loss of over $6 million in stem cell grants to the University, resulted in a loss of face for many individuals and a concerted retaliatory campaign to deflect blame and culpability away from the University administrators. Numerous faculty and employees at SUNY UMU have been subjected to retaliation and disciplinary proceedings over the past few years. The majority of these individuals do not have the resources to enter a lengthy arbitration, while concurrently being suspended without salary, against a University that has deep pockets and seemingly unlimited resources to conduct these persecutions. The politically vindictive atmosphere that exists on the campus intimidates many current members of the UMU community from speaking out -- these intimidation tactics do not deter me. I am proud to have devoted 30 years of my life to a scientific career to fundamentally understand how human and animal viruses infect stem cells and cause leukemia, and to develop and test treatments and therapies for leukemia and cancer. This intellectual curiosity and pursuit does not lend itself to using “fake” data. Although my academic career and promising lines of research has been destroyed by the actions of UMU's administration I will continue the fight, not only to vindicate myself, but also to prevent UMU's administration from employing these ethically-challenged tactics against other researchers who, like me, are only interested pushing the boundaries of scientific research for the benefit of mankind.

Gerold Feuer, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology SUNY Upstate Medical University Syracuse, NY

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