Ex-Gov. Carlson asks U regents about Markingson death

Carlson (Courtesy of UMN)

I recently received this copy of a letter that former Gov. Arne Carlson sent to University of Minnesota regents expressing his concern over the U's handling of the Dan Markingson suicide case:

He appears to want an independent investigation into the case -- or at minimum a public hearing -- as well as information on how many patients have died or been injured in psychiatric research studies.

(He recently told Scientific American that he has asked the U for the information already, but has received nothing.)

He tells them:

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"The resultant harm to the reputation of the University is concerning."


I asked the U for its reaction, and spokesman Brian Lucas emailed me the response below:

Gov. Carlson has contacted the University on this manner.  We are in the process of responding to his questions. ...

It appears Gov. Carlson's concerns are based on misinformation that continues to be cited by those who are calling for yet another investigation.  He offers no new information and his letter doesn't change the facts of the case.  We are hopeful that our response to his concerns will help him understand the full story. ...

Our plans around this issue have not changed.  There have been multiple independent investigations of the Markingson case in the last ten years. None of these investigations has found wrongdoing on the part of the University of Minnesota or the Department of Psychiatry.

Evidence of our commitment to ethical human subject research can be seen in the fact that we have received Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AAHRPP) re-accreditation twice in the last ten years.  We are currently preparing for a third re-accreditation.  This is an extremely rigorous process that is “best in class” nationally.

In an additional effort to ensure that we are leaders in terms of the protection of human subjects, we are also conducting an independent review of current human subject research processes as asked for by our Faculty Senate The contractor chosen for this job will be charged with conducting a thorough, independent and transparent review.  If any deficiencies are found in our current human subject research program, the review will include recommendations for remedying them.