Dear Members of the McGill Community,
On April 4, 2012, I communicated the steps the Faculty of Medicine was taking in response to allegations relating to McGill Prof. J. Corbett McDonald’s research on asbestos. Following a preliminary review, I requested additional guidance from McGill’s Research Integrity Officer (RIO), Prof. Abe Fuks, under Section 4.2 of McGill’s Regulations Concerning Investigation of Research Misconduct. I have received the RIOS’s report and recommendations, which I am sharing with you, as well as McGill’s Board of Governors, Senate, media and general public, today.
McGill’s RIO has found no evidence to support allegations of research misconduct leveled against Prof. John Corbett McDonald in connection with his work on the health effects of asbestos. The report by Prof. Fuks, the result of an extensive analysis, concludes that there is no warrant to initiating further investigation into the allegations against McDonald, who retired from McGill in the late 1980s. I, therefore, will request no further investigation.
In the report, Prof. Fuks states that Prof. McDonald properly acknowledged financial support from the asbestos industry in his publications — the earliest of which date from the 1960s — and that there is no evidence to suggest that the sponsors influenced the data analyses or the conclusions. McDonald and his research team demonstrated clearly that all forms of asbestos increase the risk of lung cancer; these findings “have been replicated by other groups,” and “their robustness has endured many critical analyses and legal inquiries,” the report concludes.
In his report, Prof. Fuks also concludes that his review of relevant information “lends no credence” to allegations that McGill colluded with the asbestos industry in promoting the use of asbestos.
I thank Dr. Fuks for his careful review of this past research, and for his recommendations for addressing questions and concerns that have arisen,” said Dr. Eidelman. “As an immediate response, the McGill Faculty of Medicine will move forward on the RIO’s recommendation to organize an academic conference on safe alternatives to asbestos, particularly in the developing world, and related topics of public interest. It is our role, as a University, to promote discussion and debate on issues raised by current events so as to ensure that new knowledge continues to be generated.
The RIO’s full report can be found at:
October 17, 2012