UCLA AIDS researcher broke research rules

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com April 16 2003 11:00 PM ET

A University of California, Los Angeles, medical oversight board announced Tuesday that university researcher John Fahey broke federal rules and university policy for the protection of human research subjects when he participated in a controversial study in China that deliberately infects people with malaria in an attempt to control HIV infection, the Los Angeles Times reports. The study was spearheaded by Henry Heimlich, the inventor of the famous antichoking maneuver, who announced this week that he will soon conduct a similar study in five African nations. The review board said that while the microbiology professor did not participate directly in the research, he did evaluate study data and biological samples, which violated the protection measures.

The study in question is examining whether the high fevers associated with malaria boost immune responses to HIV in the body. Most researchers, including officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, oppose Heimlich's studies because of the risks of deliberately infecting people with malaria. Fahey said that he "regrets the misunderstanding this matter has caused." Heimlich said that he was "not aware if Fahey followed the proper procedure" in his research, adding that the current controversy "is between Dr. Fahey and UCLA." A second UCLA researcher, Najib Aziz, who was also investigated, was cleared of any wrongdoing by the UCLA board.