Weill Cornell Medical College Defrauded Government, University Pays $1.6 Million

After being found by a federal court to have misused funding intended for HIV/AIDS research, Weill Cornell Medical College paid the government and a whistleblower about $1.6 million on Friday, according to an attorney for the lawsuit’s plaintiff.

In 2003, former Cornell research fellow Dr. Daniel Feldman alleged in a formal complaint that WCMC researchers spent less than half of their time studying HIV/AIDS — the topic they received federal funds from the National Institute of Health to research. 

Although WCMC’s application for the NIH grant stated that “the majority of [the fellows’] clinical work will be with persons with HIV infection,” a federal court found in July 2010 that only three of the 163 patients WCMC fellows worked with were HIV-positive. Most of the patients who participated in the studies “were patients, but they weren’t patients who were coming in for HIV [treatment],” according to Michael Salmanson, Feldman’s attorney.

The University filed an appeal in 2010, but in September, a federal appeals court affirmed the lower court’s ruling, ordering the University to pay more than $800,000 in damages.

John Rodgers, director of communications for WCMC, said in an email Thursday that while the college is “disappointed in the verdict,” it would not appeal the case to the Supreme Court.