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December 18.


The University of Illinois, as a recipient of federal funding, was required to conduct an unbiased
investigation of allegations against Dr. Fei Wang using an independent investigation team pursuant to
federal guidelines to determine if any misconduct occurred and by whom in order to protect the
researcher Dr. Wang, the University and the public at large.

It did not.

Instead, it allowed its Research Integrity Officer (“RIO”), Howard Guenther, to falsify its investigation
report and to make up alleged corroborating evidence of misconduct against Dr. Wang. The University’s
investigation team never independently investigated all of the charges of misconduct against Dr. Wang
related to the NIH grant application that it used as a basis for terminating his academic tenure. Rather,
the University allowed its RIO Howard Guenther to draw his own conclusions without actively
questioning either Dr. Wang or any of the research scientists involved in the NIH research about all of
the NIH allegations that now form the basis for the BOT’s termination decision.

The Board of Trustees decision attempts to skip over the fundamental flaws in the University’s alleged
“investigation” by citing to the multiple stages of process provided to Dr. Wang without making clear
that the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure (“CAFT”) and the BOT both relied upon the
findings of the initial investigation during their proceedings.

With regards to the NSF grant at issue, the University relied upon a student who admitted to fabricating
data in research involving an Abbott Laboratories grant (without Dr. Wang’s knowledge) as its source for
claiming research misconduct against Dr. Wang. The University did not allow Dr. Wang access to
evidence to challenge the student’s accusations and did not take any action against the student after Dr.
Wang was able to demonstrate that the student, not Dr. Wang, committed research misconduct in his
own manuscript. The student proceeded to publish research with the University’s support related to
that same manuscript and now is believed to be actively working as a research scientist after graduating
from the University of Illinois.

The University of Illinois showed a gross disregard for its own policy, federal laws and its duty to protect
the public while conducting Dr. Wang’s research misconduct investigation under the authority of its
Research Integrity Officer, Howard Guenther. The deficiencies include, but are not limited to, failure to
independently investigate the claims against Dr. Wang, failure to provide notice of allegations and
failure to consider the large amount of evidence Dr. Wang provided to refute claims of misconduct
during the investigation process.

The University of Illinois has an abysmal track record in following its own rules and Federal laws in
research misconduct investigations. Dr. Wang’s investigation is not the first research misconduct
investigation in which the University has failed to follow its Integrity Policy but rather another example
of an institutional pattern of disregard for University Policy and Federal law. Kalev Leetaru, a former
University of Illinois graduate student, filed a lawsuit in the Illinois courts in 2013 against the University
of Illinois and Howard Guenther - then University Research Integrity Officer (RIO) - for not following the
University’s own policy in a research misconduct proceeding against Mr. Leetaru. After the lawsuit was
concluded in April 2015, Howard Guenther was placed on “medical leave” by the University.

Notwithstanding the Board of Trustee’s decision, Dr. Wang never admitted to have committed research
misconduct, either in writing, or orally, during any part of the Investigation. The University’s statement
that Dr. Wang admitted to “making up” research is false. In contrast to the statement that he allegedly
admitted to have “made up” data in the NIH grant application, Dr. Wang presented evidence for all the
experiments presented in the NIH grant application to both the CAFT and BOT. Dr. Wang never
committed research misconduct.

It is worth noting that Dr. Wang was suspended by the University in July 2014 without prior notice and
without immediate hearing, in flagrant violation of the University of Illinois Statutes and the policy of
American Association of University Professors (AAUP). As a result of the suspension, Dr. Wang was
denied access to his office, all his university electronic accounts, research records and potential
witnesses, thereby severely compromising his ability to defend himself against the allegations.

On November 13, 2018, Dr. Wang filed a complaint against the University of Illinois in the Federal courts
of the Northern District of Illinois outlining the due process deficiencies and some of the substantive
defects during the investigation. Dr. Wang subsequently presented these deficiencies at the hearing
with the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the University of Illinois on November 16, 2018. None of the
deficiencies have been addressed by the BOT in its decision even though the BOT continues to rely upon
the findings of the investigation to support its decision to terminate.

Federal and University standards require an individual to “fabricate, falsify or plagiarize” research
“intentionally, knowingly or recklessly” for it to be considered research misconduct. During the course
of investigation, the Investigation Panel examined 7 publications, 12 grant applications, 2 patent
disclosures and 6 research presentations related to Dr. Wang’s research. No instances of research
misconduct were identified on Dr. Wang’s part for any of the manuscripts, patent disclosures or
research presentations. With respect to the 4 errors (3 in the NIH application and 1 in the NSF CAREER
application) alleged by the University as research misconduct, none of the errors were made
intentionally, knowingly or recklessly, nor did they change the conclusion of the related experiment or
the overall aims and scopes of the grant applications. These honest mistakes do not constitute research

In contrast to the mentorship issues alleged against Dr. Wang in the BOT report, Dr. Wang has been
widely praised by his colleagues, the trainees in his group as well as students outside his group at the
University of Illinois as an outstanding mentor. Dr. Wang has previously been awarded multiple
teaching and mentorship awards while at the University of Illinois.