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Vice chancellor steps down over plagiarism

American geneticist Terry Magnuson resigned from his position as vice chancellor for research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after admitting he committed plagiarism in a funding application submitted to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in March 2021. An investigation by America’s Office of Research Integrity (ORI) found that a proposal submitted by Magnuson copied sections from two manuals, promotional material from a company that manufactures genetic sequencing kits, and a review article. The NIH approved the application in August, and only later detected the misconduct.

The geneticist, who has already received more than US$50 million in research funding from the agency, agreed to have his research supervised until January 2024. His grant applications to federal agencies will be reviewed by the university’s School of Medicine, which will certify the veracity and fairness of the information. The school will also submit biannual reports to the ORI on the supervision of the researcher’s activities. Kevin Guskiewicz, chancellor of the university, thanked Magnuson for his work, which has helped raise the institution’s total annual research funding to US$1 billion. The scientist explained his decision to resign in an email sent to colleagues, obtained by the newspaper The News & Observer. He stated that it was his duty “to ensure others can trust that the system treats everyone equally, without regard to position or status, and that no one is above the law.”