Troubles continue for former Duke oncologist
A former cancer researcher at Duke University whose controversial story aired on "60 Minutes" is no longer working for the Myrtle Beach clinic where he'd been for nearly a year.
Dr. Anil Potti "is no longer associated" with the Coastal Cancer Center of Myrtle Beach, a statement released Wednesday said.
In a separate interview, clinic public relations spokesperson Lei Gainer declined to say if Potti was fired or left on his own accord.
Potti could not be reached. A South Carolina phone number for him is not publicly listed. He had been with the center since March.
Potti's story, featured during a Feb. 12 segment of the CBS news show called "Deception at Duke," was a continuation of the scrutiny that drove the oncologist from the school in 2010.
In the report, Potti's cancer investigation claims weren't only described as a failure, but also possibly "one of the biggest medical research frauds ever." He also faced accusations of falsifying his resume.
The segment caused a number of people to contact the Coastal Cancer Center with comments and questions in the show's aftermath, the statement said.
"It has become obvious that this issue is going to take precious focus away from patient care," Lawrence B. Holt Jr., president of Coastal Cancer Center, said.
Potti's final day was Tuesday. He joined the staff as an oncologist in March 2011. He primarily saw patients at the center's Loris and Brunswick County, N.C. locations.
Potti's troubles have been chronicled for some time. His downfall at Duke is traced to two events, including a claim to be a Rhodes Scholar, later proven false, among other resume embellishments. A larger investigation centered on the scientific integrity of his cancer-treatment research. It focused on the possibility of physicians using information about a patient's genetic makeup to help decide the best course of treatment.
But after major errors were detected in his findings, it led to retractions of a number of scientific research papers, the return of grant money by Duke, and complaints filed by patients involved in clinical trials that were supervised by Potti. He resigned in late 2010 and was reprimanded by North Carolina's medical board.
In January 2011, Potti filed an application for a license to practice medicine in South Carolina, receiving approval in April 2011.
The clinic's statement said the center had conducted a "deep and thorough investigation" of Potti's credentials before making the hire. The investigation included numerous letters of "strong recommendation" from several key members of the medical community at Duke.
"We were assured by Duke Medical's leaders that Anil was 'outstanding in all categories,' 'had excellent clinical skills' and that he had conducted himself at Duke with 'honesty, integrity and humility,' " Holt said.
Holt said Potti will be missed. "Like those of us at the Cancer Center, other physicians recognize him as an exceptional doctor and colleague."