U regents hear grad student woes, drug-trial worries

U medical student Eden Almasude (next to black coffin) leads the vigil Alex Friedrich / MPR News

Protesters disrupted a University of Minnesota regents budget forum today over the 2004 suicide of a university drug-trial patient.

Three dozen people gathered outside McNamara Alumni Center during the meeting to commemorate Dan Markingson. The 26-year old died during a clinical test of an anti-psychotic drug after critics say university researchers exploited him.

They held signs with slogans such as “Justice for Dan” and “Shame on U,” and stood near a black coffin to symbolize his death.

They’re calling for an independent investigation into his death, and the release of the number of research patients who have died or been seriously injured since 1999.

About 12:45 p.m., some vigil participants interrupted a forum speaker and began placing flowers silently on regents’ desks.

They left after the chairman told them to stop or he’d clear the room.

Bioethics professor Leigh Turner later told regents at the forum that failing to investigate the case properly could have legal and financial consequences.

“Will you remove President Kaler and other university officials from their positions if it emerges that research misconduct occurred and yet they resisted repeated calls for an investigation?” he asked.

A U spokesman says Markingson’s death has been investigated credibly multiple times, and current accreditation shows the U has a high-quality psychiatry department.

Also during the forum, regents heard public comment on the U’s proposed $3.6 billion budget.

President Eric Kaler was praised for freezing undergraduate tuition and fees while holding increases in room and board costs to 1.2 percent or less.

His budget freezes tuition for medical and veterinary students.

But it increases graduate and professional tuition by an average of 3 percent.

Andrew McNally, president of the Council of Graduate Students, said state and university leaders have neglected grad students even though they do much of the teaching and research on campus.

“When we ask for the resources to succeed,” he said, “we’re most often told that the value does not merit the investment — that unlike undergraduate education, pursuing an advanced degree represents a personal choice and a private good, unworthy of public commitment.”

McNally urged regents to increase funding for graduate fellowships.

The U would cut $20 million in administrative costs in the proposed budget. That would put the U ahead of its timetable in meeting Kaler’s goal of cutting $90 million by Fiscal Year 2019.

The budget would also boost funding to the Duluth campus by 13 percent — or $4.2 million.

That campus faces a multimillion-dollar budget deficit.

  • thomas hussman

    There is no question in my mind as to whether or not there was misconduct in the CAFE study. Just as it is at any crime scene, when a police officer arrives and finds a bloody mess, it can be safely and usually quickly determined that a crime has occurred, or not.

    Some crimes have been committed at the UMN that precipitated Dan Markingson’s death. More crimes, have been committed during a rather bone-headed cover up.

    If the governor has the authority to act here, then I can assure him that I have conducted a preliminary investigation into this case, and I have found that “probable cause” does, in fact, exist.

  • thomas hussman

    I just read about retired governor Carlson’s new interest in the death of Dan Markingson. I will provide you with some direction so you can do the research for yourself, sir.

    The Potsdam and Yalta conferences no doubt contained conversations about Nordhausen, a town in Thuringia-Germany. What occurred in Germany, and why historians cherish the lives of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and many others, will serve to explain, in part, the predicament at the UMN today.

    The inadvertent discovery of lysergic acid diethylamide in Switzerland 1944, was a catalyst to mind manipulation in the USA today. The Pont Saint Esprit, France incident, must, at least, be part of this discussion.

    Names such as:

    Amedo Marrazzi
    L. Wilson Greene
    Robert Vern Lashbrook
    Sydney Gottlieb
    Frank Olson

    are perfect examples of people involved, in one way or another, with failed drug tests. There are many more names I could add to the (list).

    The 20, 000 documents that survived the destruction of mk/ultra files in 1973 are must reading for an understanding as to how the pharmaceutical problems have developed into what we have in Markingson.

    A quick look at the historical records from Glenwood Hills Hospital, formerly in Golden Valley, and Mount Sinai Hospital, formerly in Minneapolis, and a review of some of the legal troubles at these, now defunct, institutions will provide much information about the history of medical abuses in Minnesota.

    In H.P. Albarelli’s book, A Terrible Mistake, an interesting subject concerning a “consent” form at the University of Minnesota, many years ago, is eerily found amidst his elaborate discussion on this topic.

    The Markingson tragedy has provided us with an opportunity to learn, to learn from our mistakes. Let us follow the tradition of learning, and not repeat the mistake.