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Ex-UA researcher files for judicial review, damages

By Anthony C. Braza
Arizona Daily Wildcat
August 24, 1998
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In a finger-pointing frenzy, ousted UA researcher Marguerite Kay filed legal action last week against the Arizona Board of Regents, and a UA administrator called for an investigation of one of Kay's supporters.

Kay, a former University of Arizona researcher, was fired last month for scientific misconduct after a UA Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure panel found that she "falsified, manipulated and otherwise misrepresented data and findings in her publications."

Kay had been a Regents professor in the UA's microbiology and immunology department since 1991. She gained worldwide publicity for publishing findings that Vitamin E reduces some age-related brain deterioration in laboratory mice.

She filed for judicial review with the Pima County Superior Court Aug. 17, complaining that she was denied due process in the CAFT investigation.

Due process

In papers filed with the court, Kay stated she was not afforded "the substantive or procedural due process required by the United States and Arizona Constitutions" and requested reinstatement and an unspecified amount of back pay and damages.

"[This] is necessary for clearing my name and demonstrating the UA is interested in truth and justice and correcting a wrong," Kay said.

The ousted researcher has maintained her innocence throughout the process, saying several published reports were based on data adjusted by two lab technicians, Cathleen Cover and Jeff Poulin, without her knowledge.

Kay said she hopes the lawsuit will clear her name and help her get her job back.

Ulterior motives

William Regelson, a professor of microbiology at Virginia Commonwealth University, sent a letter to UA President Peter Likins in July, expressing his support for Kay and accusing Michael Cusanovich, UA vice president for research and graduate studies, of using the investigation to carry out a vendetta against her.

Although several colleagues have expressed their belief in Kay's innocence, Regelson went even further by suggesting that Cusanovich had ulterior motives for investigating Kay's conduct.

"It is obvious that he had a vendetta against a faculty member who challenged his authority and made her attacks against him a public issue," Regelson said of Cusanovich in the letter to Likins.

In response, Cusanovich demanded that Regelson's superiors at VCU investigate him for violation of academic ethics.

Cusanovich wrote a letter to Regelson's superiors, accusing the VCU professor of making "allegations intended to harm another individual without credible evidence." He also stated that Regelson "committed a gross breach of professional ethics."

Likins said Friday that Cusanovich sent the letter of his own accord but understands why it was sent.

"It was not the action of the University of Arizona, but the action of Michael Cusanovich," Likins said. "He has been cast as a villain in this ... and he has the right to defend his honor."

Cusanovich could not be reached Friday for comment.


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