Gerardo L. Paez, a former postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) School of Veterinary Medicine, spent years using taxpayer money to breed puppies to have a gene that causes progressive retinal atrophy, a degenerative eye disease that culminates in blindness. During one study, 3-week-old beagle puppies were killed after they had their eyes cut out and dissected. As if that weren’t awful enough, according to an investigation by the federal government’s Office of Research Integrity, when the results weren’t what Paez had hoped for, he simply fabricated them.
Here’s a little-known fact about government grants: They’re refundable. At least they are if you break the rules. That’s why PETA is urging the National Eye Institute (NEI) to demand that UPenn return the money that was used for the experiments in which serial puppy-torturer Paez intentionally fabricated data. Paez later presented the bogus findings at two annual meetings of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. Obviously, that’s a big no-no—and it’s grounds for the NEI to demand a refund for a portion of the $2 million it laid out for the dog experiments and to prohibit Paez from ever receiving taxpayer money again.
This wouldn’t be the first time that grant money had to be returned: Prompted by investigations and complaints from PETA, the University of Connecticut Health Center and the University of Washington were ordered to pay back tens of thousands in grant money for abusing monkeys in their laboratories. The feds have also ordered the University of Michigan to pay back a whopping $1.4 million that was used for animal experiments that violated the law.
It just goes to show that crime doesn’t always pay—sometimes it pays back.
Written by Alisa Mullins