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Scientist Who Pushed To Discredit Lab-Leak Theory Received Millions In NIH Grants

Another witness at the hearing accused him of ‘scientific misconduct.’

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Senators grilled a scientist involved in efforts to discredit the Covid-19 lab-leak theory for receiving millions in National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing this week.

Robert Garry, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and Associate Dean for Biomedical Sciences at Tulane Medical School, co-authored an article in 2020 that was cited thousands of times in research articles and news outlets to shut down and censor proponents of the so-called lab-leak theory. 

“There is no lab leak scenario that can accommodate all the available scientific evidence,” Garry stated in the article published in Nature Medicine. Co-author Kristian Andersen, professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at Scripps Research, wrote in a February 2020 email that they were “focused on disproving any type of lab theory.”

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., pressed Garry, asking, “How much have you received from government grants in your career?” Garry claimed he did not know. “I have information that between you and Dr. Kristian Andersen between 2020 and 2022 you received $25.2 million in grants from the NIH,” Johnson continued. Garry admitted “that’s possible.”

Richard H. Ebright, another witness at the hearing and Board of Governors Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers University, accused Garry of scientific misconduct.

“The misconduct of highest importance was stating conclusions the authors knew at the time were untrue,” said Ebright. “This is the most egregious form of scientific misconduct.”

Garry said he did not intend to mislead people and was simply using the scientific evidence to form his conclusions at the time. Because of the paper, however, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said innocent people were ridiculed for raising questions, often at great professional detriment.

Hawley asked, “Do you regret being part of this propaganda effort?”

“I was simply writing a paper about our scientific opinions about where this virus came from,” Garry said.

“The reason why the American public does not trust scientists and the federal health agencies is because of people like you,” Johnson said. “You violated the public’s trust.”

Throughout his career, Garry has received approximately $60 million in government research funding and owns a vaccine company, which Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., argued represents a “conflict of interest.”

Since the start of the pandemic, the lab-leak theory has been a controversial topic in Washington, largely due to government agencies and academic figures coordinating to suppress evidence suggesting the virus was a product of Chinese experimentation, potentially funded by US tax dollars, and not a natural phenomenon.

The FBI and Energy Department have since stated there is strong evidence supporting the plausibility of the lab-leak theory.


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