Harvard to repay $1.3M for overcharging federal grant

Research team overstated time, effort put into government-funded projects

Harvard University has agreed to pay more than $1.3 million to settle claims that a research team overcharged certain federal grants, federal prosecutors in Boston said.

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The team at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health led by former professor Donna Spiegelman overcharged the government $1,359,791 between 2009 and 2014 by overstating the time and effort members put into projects funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Health Resources & Services Administration, the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts said in a statement Monday.

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Cambridge, MA, USA - November 2, 2013: Harvard Yard on Harvard University campus, in Cambridge, MA on November 2, 2013. (iStock)

The overcharges were self-reported by the Ivy League university, the statement said.

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“Grant fraud wastes scarce government resources and limits the availability of funding for other research,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said.

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Spiegelman, in a statement released to The Boston Globe through her attorney, said Harvard didn't consult her before agreeing to a settlement and denied any wrongdoing.

Michelle Williams, dean of the faculty at the Chan School, said in a statement that the university's own investigation identified reporting discrepancies for Spiegelman and members of her research group that resulted in charges to NIH awards that could not be fully documented.

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