UW-Madison professor barred from lab for potentially dangerous experimentsmore...
By DEBORAH ZIFF and RON SEELY | Wisconsin State Journal | Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2010
A UW-Madison professor who studies the infectious disease brucellosis lost his laboratory privileges because university officials said he conducted unauthorized experiments that could have posed a risk to human health.
Gary Splitter, a tenured professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine, won't be allowed to work in a lab for five years because of the violation, a stiff punishment for a faculty member whose livelihood depends on publishing papers based on lab experiments. It's a rare discipline, said UW-Madison Provost Paul DeLuca.
Splitter's lab created antibiotic-resistant strains of brucellosis and inserted them into mice, university officials said, without approval from local or federal agencies. The concern is that if someone contracted the antibiotic-resistant version of the disease created in the lab, they could not have been treated.
University officials said the experiments were conducted in a lab with a high safety level and the resistant brucellosis strains in question were destroyed by university biological safety employees after they were discovered. One lab worker did get infected with brucellosis, DeLuca said, but it's not clear it was from the experiment under investigation. The person recovered, he said.
See too: UW-Madison: Bumbling Oafs or Big Fat Liars?