Dr. Anil Potti seemed to fit the definition of a successful medical school faculty member. An Associate Professor of Medicine at Duke, he had received over $1 million in funding for his research on lung cancer tumors. He was an active presence on campus and appeared in press releases.
Then it emerged that Dr. Potti had lied about one seemingly small part of his resume. On different applications for grants he claimed to have been a Rhodes Scholar from Australia. Though he later dropped that claim from his CV, it appears he misrepresented his qualifications on federal grant applications. Duke has placed Dr. Potti on leave, and the NIH may review his funding.
It seems trivial that a single honor could have tipped the balance in favor his grant application. And it is unclear if there were any flaws in the clinical trials he had been funded for. Yet, maintaining the integrity of the research enterprise is crucial. In a competitive academic environment, it can be tempting to exaggerate credentials. Dr. Potti did not receive his training at prestigious universities, but how you perform your role matters more than how people perceive your background.