INVESTIGATORS: U of M Senate resolves to review human research - KMSP-TV

INVESTIGATORS: U of M Senate resolves to review human research

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Faculty Senate resolves to review how the University of Minnesota conducts research on humans | Photo by Jeff Baillon Faculty Senate resolves to review how the University of Minnesota conducts research on humans | Photo by Jeff Baillon
Delivering the petition at Gov. Mark Dayton's office | Photo by Jeff Baillon Delivering the petition at Gov. Mark Dayton's office | Photo by Jeff Baillon
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    A petition drive is under way, calling on Gov. Mark Dayton to order an investigation of the University of Minnesota. More than 3,000 people -- including prominent medical professionals -- have signed it.
    A petition drive is under way, calling on Gov. Mark Dayton to order an investigation of the University of Minnesota. More than 3,000 people -- including some prominent medical professionals -- have signed it.
MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

For nearly 10 years, family and friends of Dan Markingson have pushed for an outside investigation of his death after he violently took his own life while enrolled in a drug study at the University of Minnesota.

On Thursday, the University of Minnesota's Faculty Senate took a bold step, passing a resolution that calls for outside experts to review how the school conducts research on human subjects.

"We are all of us under this cloud, and it has to be removed," Professor Naomi Scheman contended.

Markingson was mentally ill when he was recruited to sign up for the study. His psychiatrist, Steven Olson, was the principal investigator, and part of his salary was being paid by the drug maker.

Mary Weiss, Markingson's mother, repeatedly complained to the U that her son's condition was worsening, and she feared he would kill himself.

"He didn't pass away, he was killed," Weiss said. "They let him die."

Weiss, who is recovering from a stroke, was unable to attend the faculty Senate meeting, but a close family friend called the results of the vote "overwhelming."

"I never thought it would come to this, speaking on behalf of Mary Weiss," Mike Howard said. "Thank you."

Now, it's up to University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler to decide what happens next.

"I'll consult with experts on campus to identify external people who have the expertise necessary to make an evaluation," Kaler said. "We'll invite them to come review what we do and we'll report the result."

Kaler does have the option to do nothing. The university has long maintained that the death of Markingson was a tragedy, but not the fault of researchers.

An investigation by the FDA found no evidence of misconduct, but critics say that review was incomplete and they have been pushing for a far more in-depth investigation.

"I welcome any investigation," Olson said. "I've got nothing to hide. We didn't do anything wrong."

More than 3,000 people, many of them medical professionals, have also signed a petition calling on the governor to get involved in the Markingson case. That petition was delivered to Gov. Mark Dayton's office on Thursday morning. His staff says he will have a response soon.

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