BBSRC director quits her post

Janet Allen says decision unconnected to probe into her former PhD student. Paul Jump reports

November 10, 2011

Resigned: Janet Allen showed 'personal drive' in her role, said council head

The director of research at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council has stepped down, but has stated that her resignation had nothing to do with a major misconduct investigation into one of her former PhD students.

Janet Allen's decision to leave the BBSRC was announced at the end of last month, but at the time no reason was publicly given for her departure.

She joined the research council as director of research in 2008 following a spell in the pharmaceutical industry. Between 1994 and 2001 she was professor of molecular medicine at the University of Glasgow.

During that time she supervised the doctoral work of Alirio Melendez, who is currently suspended from his position as chair of immunopharmacology at the University of Liverpool following allegations of data manipulation.

Ongoing investigations at Liverpool, Glasgow and the National University of Singapore, where Professor Melendez has worked, have so far resulted in the retraction of one of his papers and the publication of an editorial expression of concern relating to another.

Last month, it was revealed that the three universities were collaborating on an investigation into all 70 papers Professor Melendez has authored. This will include every paper he wrote while at Glasgow, to which he returned as professor of immunopharmacology in 2007 before moving to Liverpool last year.

His PhD with Professor Allen in the late 1990s resulted in seven co-authored papers, plus a further five published after he left Glasgow.

'Personal, private reasons'

Both Professor Allen and the BBSRC denied that her previous connection with Professor Melendez had anything to do with her decision to leave the council.

Professor Allen told Times Higher Education: "The reasons for my resignation from the BBSRC are personal and private. There is absolutely no connection between my resignation from the BBSRC and the allegations made concerning [the] published work of Alirio Melendez."

Douglas Kell, chief executive of the BBSRC, publicly thanked Professor Allen for her work at the research council. He said her "leadership and personal drive" had led to "noteworthy" contributions to the delivery of every aspect of the organisation's strategic plan, including multipartner programmes and the move to longer, larger grants.

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