A director of the LSU Health department in New Orleans has resigned as the university investigates allegations he made a double withdrawal from federal agencies when seeking funding for research grants, the university said. chancellor of the school this week.
Hari Koul, a researcher in urology, has denied doing anything wrong by obtaining grants from the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Institutes of Health. He said his two proposals were “completely different” and that an anonymous complaint filed against him with LSU was without merit.
LSU Health is still investigating the claims, a spokesperson said. Steve Nelson, acting chancellor of LSU Health in New Orleans, announced this week that Koul is stepping down as interim chair of the biochemistry and molecular biology department, a title he held for a year.
Nelson’s statement to faculty and staff did not mention that the organization was actively investigating Kul. Koul said leaving the post had always been his plan, after receiving funding in April for a project that will require more of his time.
The double-dipping allegations surfaced in an October report from the Retraction Watch blog. The report cited an anonymous 2020 complaint, addressed to a dean at LSU Health, alleging that Koul acted unethically by submitting identical proposals to multiple federal agencies and receiving grants from two.
Gary Kunich, a spokesperson for VA, said grant recipients “cannot hold two funding awards for the same project and must decide which award to accept if the proposed research is selected for funding by two agencies.”
When asked if the VA was concerned about its price for Kul, Kunich declined to comment and referred a reporter to the VA inspector general’s office. A spokesperson for that agency said its work was confidential.
Koul said he got an NIH grant in 2019, as well as a VA grant which federal records show is $ 1.1 million over five years. It is not known how much money the NIH awarded. A spokesperson for the agency did not return messages.
Koul noted that the funding goes to LSU Health in New Orleans, not him directly. Although both of his projects focus on prostate cancer, he said his NIH study looked at disparities in the health of the disease, while his VA study focused on hormone receptors.
“There was no overlap,” Koul said. “There was absolutely no double dipping at all.” He declined to comment on the university investigation into his actions.
Koul is the latest LSU Health official in New Orleans to publicly voice his concerns.
October saw the departure of the organization’s chief financial officer, Keith Schroth. He was the main target of an academic audit, released the previous month, which targeted a host of inappropriate or unethical practices at school.
Among them: Schroth pushed for a raise and a new title for his son, and former Chancellor Larry Hollier bypassed university policies to raise Schroth’s salary. Hollier, who held the top post for 15 years, also resigned in October.
After Nelson took over, he also reshuffled several of Hollier’s recent hires and vowed to review the institution’s senior management duties and faculty and staff salaries.