Two Blood Workers Agree To Federal Sanctions

Thursday, June 28th 2007, 4:24 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Two former contract workers for the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, who allegedly substituted their blood for samples taken from children during research in the lead-tainted Tar Creek area, have agreed to federal sanctions after being cited for ``scientific misconduct.''

According to items published in Monday's Federal Register, the two workers, Joy Bryant and Diana Layman, each has entered into a ``voluntary exclusion agreement'' and may not contract or subcontract with any agency of the federal government or do federal research grant work for three years, a period that started May 30.

Bryant and Layman were phlebotomists for the Tribal Effort Against Lead, a project overseen in part by OU, Emory University of Atlanta and area American Indian tribes. Soon after the project's completion, allegations surfaced in November 2004 that Bryant, Layman and a third worker had substituted their own blood after they failed to obtain samples from some children.

The OU Health Sciences Center began an investigation, and university officials said in May 2006 that two project workers had acknowledged the allegations were true. OU officials passed on the results of their investigation to the federal Office of Research Integrity.

The federal register item notes that Layman and Bryant ``falsified research in the TEAL study by substituting or conspiring with another phlebotomist'' to substitute their blood samples for those of between 10 and 15 children participating in the study.

The study gathered 335 blood samples from children 6 years old and younger.

After the allegations became public, repeat testing of blood by community health care providers was offered to all of the families involved in the study at no cost.

The Tar Creek Superfund site is located in Ottawa County in far northeastern Oklahoma, where decades of lead and zinc mining caused environmental and safety problems, including collapses of the long-abandoned mines, open mine shafts and acidic water that turned Tar Creek _ which flows through the area _ an orange color. Piles of mine waste have laid on the ground in the area for decades.

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