Contribute Try STAT+ Today

Biotech company Athira Pharma, which is in turmoil after its chief executive was found to have published research containing altered images, now faces a new concern: It cited the allegedly doctored papers in a federal grant application. This creates the potential for the government or whistleblowers to pursue legal action to force the company to repay not only the $15 million it received to fund its work but also additional penalties.

Three altered papers co-authored by former chief executive Leen Kawas — who has been placed on leave — were referenced in an Athira application for funding from the National Institutes of Health, which STAT obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. This makes the Seattle-based company potentially liable for False Claims Act damages, according to two legal experts, meaning Athira could be on the hook for three times the grant funds, or $45 million.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT+ and enjoy your first 30 days free!

GET STARTED

What is it?

STAT+ is STAT's premium subscription service for in-depth biotech, pharma, policy, and life science coverage and analysis. Our award-winning team covers news on Wall Street, policy developments in Washington, early science breakthroughs and clinical trial results, and health care disruption in Silicon Valley and beyond.

What's included?

  • Daily reporting and analysis
  • The most comprehensive industry coverage from a powerhouse team of reporters
  • Subscriber-only newsletters
  • Daily newsletters to brief you on the most important industry news of the day
  • STAT+ Conversations
  • Weekly opportunities to engage with our reporters and leading industry experts in live video conversations
  • Exclusive industry events
  • Premium access to subscriber-only networking events around the country
  • The best reporters in the industry
  • The most trusted and well-connected newsroom in the health care industry
  • And much more
  • Exclusive interviews with industry leaders, profiles, and premium tools, like our CRISPR Trackr.

Create a display name to comment

This name will appear with your comment