The Southern Illinois University School of Medicine (SIU) may lose $15 million of federal funding for research after “questionable” research revealed
In August 2017, several conservative investors and tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel invested approximately $7 million towards a weak, but a live vaccine for the herpes virus, that was initially developed by William Halford, a deceased former SIU researcher.
Rotational Vaccines, Halford’s private company, was conducting clinical trials situated in Nevis and St. Kitts, a Caribbean nation – enabling Halford’s trials to avoid certain safety protocols and federal regulations overseeing human trials.
Experts criticized the trial, which was not approved by an institutional review board as mandated in the United States, as unethical and “reckless”, prompting the St. Kitts’ government to investigate the trial.
The investigation revealed that Caribbean health authorities were unaware of what was happening. However, the fact that Halford’s trials did not adhere to standard protocol and regulations might have been what prompted Thiel and the other conservative backers to get involved.
Dean of SIU taking ongoing investigation “very seriously”, commits to assisting wherever possible
Thiel, as well as some of the other backers, perceive FDA regulations and mandated oversight as “stifling innovation”. One of the investors argued that Halford’s trial was merely a so-called “test case”, proceeding to attack the FDA for preventing the continuance of Halford’s research.
The IRB of SIU began an official investigation of the trial, quickly determining a grave lack of compliance with certain mandatory requirements, procedures, and regulations.
A statement from SIU’s Dean, Jerry Kruse, read that he had responded to a direct inquiry from the federal Office from an associated Department of Human Health & Services office asking for an explanation for Halford’s unregulated clinical trial.
If the SIU is found guilty of deliberate noncompliance with HHS’s strict laws for safety and IRB oversight of clinical trials, it could lose $15 million worth grant money it uses for other research endeavors.