REGENTS vote to fire researcher

Saturday, May 12th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents voted unanimously Friday to fire a medical researcher whose skin cancer study was shut down 10 months ago amid safety concerns.

University President David Boren said the lengthy termination process involving Dr. J. Michael McGee was needed and involved the abrogation of McGee's tenure.

Abrogation is a multistep process that takes months to conduct, Boren said. Procedures are designed so a tenured professor receives a full and impartial hearing by his peers.

But Boren said McGee failed to participate in much of the process.

``Professor McGee failed to participate in the process and to appear at a hearing of his peers,'' Boren said. ``We believe we have fulfilled our responsibilities in this matter.''

McGee, who had continued to work as a medical faculty member at the OU-Tulsa Schusterman Center, was not available for comment.

He filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday alleging OU violated his due process rights and tried to destroy his ability to defend himself or salvage his reputation as a medical researcher.

McGee's attorney, Lynn Mattson, has alleged that the university has failed to provide McGee with specific reasons for his removal in July 2000 from a botched melanoma study. The vaccine study was being conducted at the OU Health Sciences Center at Tulsa, now the OU-Tulsa Schusterman Center.

OU shut down McGee's melanoma project in March 2000 amid allegations that researchers had failed to protect the safety of participants. More than 90 patients participated in the melanoma study, which was conducted in Tulsa and at sites in Newport Beach, Calif.; Springfield, Mo.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Bloomington, Ind.

The study has resumed on a limited basis without McGee's direct involvement.