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Millions paid back in Penkowa case

Brain researcher Milena Penkowa has paid DKK 0.28 million back to the fund that supported her research. But the University of Copenhagen has paid back DKK 2 million

The University of Copenhagen (KU) has paid back DKK 2 million back to the IMK General Fund, which backed Penkowa’s research with DKK 5.6 million. This is according to the Danish section of this siteUniversitetsavisen and the health daily Dagens Medicin.

This opens the question as to whether the University of Copenhagen will try to send Milena Penkowa the bill and how much money it would claim if appropriate. But the University does not expect to get any money back from Penkowa, it now appears.

Close eye on the money

Milena Penkowa says that she has only paid DKK 276,000 of the grant back to the University of Copenhagen. This DKK 276,000 has gone to lawyers in a case from 2008 where Milena Penkowa’s research was sent to a commitee hearing (Da. ‘praksisudvalg’… ed) after a review by Professor Elisabeth Bock had not been able to recreate some of Milena Penkowas laboratory results. The commitee then judged Milena Penkowa’s research to be legitimate.

Now Milena Penkowa must clarify why legal advice, in her opinion, was necessary:

»I believe that it was relevant to my research to use legal services. The whole amount was used to conduct research and for work-related issues that arose on the occasion of the committee hearing. There were particular issues such as guidance service, documentation, etc. And when such a case arises, there is a wide range of formal rules and procedures to be followed. That was why in the view of myself and my collegues, it was only natural that I sought legal advice,« she told Dagens Medicin.

Urgently needs to clarify relation to fund

Universitetsavisen asked University of Copenhagen Board Chairman Nils Strandberg Pedersen to comment on the DKK 276,000. He affirmed that the University will not speak on the issue of the Penkowa case. However, the University of Copenhagen has recovered the money:

»Most of the money was spent on research, but not to all the purposes that were applied for, the fund claims. You can of course assess this in several ways. But we need to urgently clarify the relation to the fund,« says Chairman Nils Strandberg Pedersen.

According to articles in another media Weekendavisen on her case, she was, apart from the question of reimbursed legal fees, suspected of spending funding on private travel, meals and clothes. None of the University of Copenhagen management has mentioned this. Milena Penkowa denies the claim.

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