Vigil for Dan Markingson to Protest Psychiatric Research Abuse

Our next action in support of an independent investigation into psychiatric research abuse at the University of Minnesota will be a vigil at noon on May 9, 2014, in front of the McNamara Alumni Center. The Board of Regents will be meeting inside. Please plan to come with signs, candles, flowers or anything else that would show your support for victims of research abuse or misconduct in the Department of Psychiatry.

The previous day, May 8, will mark the 10-year anniversary of Dan’s death in the CAFE study.

Please share notices of the vigil as widely as possible. We have created a Facebook event page. If you are on Facebook, please consider inviting friends and sharing the event on your timeline.

Hold the date: Friday May 9, for our next Dan Markingson action

We will be organizing our next action on the Markingson case around the University of Minnesota Board of Regents meeting on Friday, May 9, during the lunch hour. I will post more on the details soon.

Come the revolution

Well, I have to confess that I was astonished by the crowd packed into the auditorium for yesterday’s presentation on the Markingson case (and the Swanson case) in the medical school.  I know it can’t have been terribly comfortable for all those people sitting on the stairs and standing along the walls, but I was pleased to see it anyway.  Even more gratifying was the support of the crowd, which was overwhelmingly on the side of justice.  There have not been many high points in the battles over this case, but yesterday’s event was one of them. It almost felt as if the revolution is coming.

We all owe a special thanks to Mike Howard and Kathy Swanson for having the courage to come to the medical school and speak out so forcefully.  I only wish that Mary Weiss could have been there.

We passed around a sign-up sheet for people who may be able to help with a protest, vigil or another as-yet-to-be-determined action surrounding the next meeting of the Board of Regents on May 8-9.  If you’d like to help and didn’t get your name on the sheet, get in touch with me here or through the Facebook page, Community Alliance for Ethics in Minnesota Psychiatry.

Onward. Or, as they used to say in Durban: Amandla!

Scholars to Kaler: Markingson review process is “so flawed as to preclude any chance the resulting report will be seen as legitimate”

The leaders of the scholars calling for a review of the Markingson case have written to President Eric Kaler condemning his efforts to avoid investigating the case.  You can read their letter here.

A blog post by Trudo Lemmens can be found on the University of Toronto Faculty of Law web page.

April 25 event: “When Research Subjects Die: The Case of Dan Markingson”

When Research Subjects Die: The Case of Dan Markingson

Friday, April 25, Moos 2-520
Presentation and Discussion
Carl Elliott, MD PhD Center for Bioethics
And Families of Psychiatric Research Subjects
(Pizza lunch provided)
Sponsored by Advancing Urban Health Equity

Please ask donors to stop funding the University of Minnesota

First, thanks to all of you who have called Governor Dayton or the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents. We are very grateful for your help in demanding action to protect research subjects at the university. Today, we are rolling out the second phase of our campaign, and we need to ask for your help again.

If we are going to get action, we need to hit the university where it hurts: the wallet. Over the past week, some of us have begun writing to major donors. We are asking them to consider ending their donations to the university unless the administration takes action to protect psychiatric research subjects. We hope you will consider doing the same.

At this link, you will find a list of major donors, along with addresses, phone numbers, and in some cases, email addresses. We would like for you to write, call or email them. (Note: please take the Honeywell Foundation off the list.)  Of course, you are entirely free to compose your own letter or email. But if you need help, we have prepared a template for a letter or email that you can find at this link.

You might also want to send copies of articles about the Dan Markingson scandal and other issues. Among the articles you might consider are:

Making a Killing, Carl Elliott, Mother Jones

Patient’s suicide forces belated university investigation, David Cyranoski, Nature

The U of M should thoroughly investigate issues in the Markingson case, Leigh Turner, MinnPost

Pay no attention to the bloody corpse in the bathroom, Carl Elliott, Medium

A Clinical Trial and Suicide Leave Many Questions: Part 5: The Case of the Mysteriously Appearing Documents, Judy Stone, Scientific American

Will the U review or whitewash a research subject’s death?, Matt Lamkin et al, Minneapolis Star Tribune

For the sake of efficiency, we would like to keep track of which donors have been contacted. So when you call or write to a donor, please leave a comment on this post or send an email to me at my university email address.

Again, thank you very much. It has been a hard battle, and we could not have fought it for so long without your help.

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Please join our call-in campaign!

In early December, we delivered a petition signed by over 3,500 of you to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, calling for an investigation of the death of Dan Markingson in a University of Minnesota psychiatric research study. That same week, the Faculty Senate at the university also overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling for an investigation.

Yet four months later, we still have seen no results. The president of the university, Eric Kaler, has indicated publicly that any review he commissions will not include any investigation of Dan Markingson’s death. Governor Dayton has not even acknowledged our petition.

In the meantime, evidence is accumulating that Dan Markingson was not the only patient who died or was seriously injured in psychiatric research studies at the university. Two investigative news reports have appeared with evidence of misconduct involving other patients. A confidential memo has emerged indicating that the Institutional Review Board was aware of ethical problems with psychiatric research at the University in 2009, and that it was concerned enough to request an external investigation. And for over six months, the university has stonewalled our open records requests for reports of deaths and serious injuries in psychiatric research studies.

So we need your help. We are organizing a series of actions beginning with a call-in campaign to Governor Mark Dayton and University of Minnesota Board of Regents Chairman Richard Beeson. We are asking you to call the offices of Dayton and Beeson and leave a message asking for action. Here are phone numbers (and if you need it, a suggested script for your call.)

Please make your voice heard. And let us know that you called by leaving a comment below.


Carl Elliott


Richard Beeson
Office of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents
Phone: 612-625-6300612-625-6300

Suggested script:

My name is ___ and I am calling to leave a message for Board of Regents Regent Chair Richard Beeson.

I am alarmed by the ongoing news about research abuses against mentally ill patients in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Psychiatry. I am especially disturbed by the misleading and deceptive statements issued by University of Minnesota officials, including the claims that these research abuses have already been investigated.

I am calling to ask the Board of Regents to take action to answer two questions.

1) How many research subjects have died or been seriously injured in psychiatric research studies at the university since the current Chair of Psychiatry, Dr. Charles Schulz, was appointed in 1999?

2) Why is President Eric Kaler refusing to investigate the suicide of Dan Markingson?

The Board of Regents has an obligation to make this information publicly available. Please contact me at the following number:

Gov. Mark Dayton
Phone 651-201-3437651-201-3437
Toll Free: 800-657-3717800-657-3717

Suggest script:

My name is ___ and I am calling to leave a message for Gov. Mark Dayton.

I am alarmed by the ongoing news about research abuses against mentally ill patients in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Psychiatry. I am especially disturbed by the refusal of President Eric Kaler to investigate the suicide of Dan Markingson, despite a Faculty Senate resolution calling for an investigation. I believe it is the responsibility of Governor Dayton to ensure the protection of vulnerable, mentally ill patients at a state university.

I am asking Governor Dayton to respond to the petition calling for an investigation of the death of Dan Markingson that was delivered to him four months ago. In addition, Governor Dayton should demand that the University of Minnesota make publicly available the number research subjects that have died or been seriously injured in psychiatric research studies since the current Chair of Psychiatry, Dr. Charles Schulz, was appointed in 1999.

Please contact me at the following number:

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University of Minnesota Solicits “Bids” for Investigation on “Purchasing Services” Website

In a MinnPost op-ed about the U’s decision to solicit “bids” for an investigation into research abuse on a “Purchasing Services” website, Leigh Turner writes: “This limited review is both absurd and fully consistent with the decade-long refusal by university administrators to promote anything resembling a legitimate inquiry into possible research misconduct involving vulnerable patients with mental illnesses.”

Read the entire blast here.

“I believe his role was to recruit patients for clinical trials,” Kathy Swanson said

Before 17 year-old Michael Swanson stole his parents’ car and killed two convenience store clerks in Iowa, he was seen by University of Minnesota psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Jensen.  Jensen diagnosed Swanson with bipolar affective disorder and recommended the antipsychotic drug Abilify.  “There’s a real concern about his use of force,” Jensen wrote. “It would seem to me that likelihood of his repeating the theft of guns, robbery of people is probable and that without anti-psychotic medication, he may carry out these behaviors.”

Instead of treating Swanson, however, according to a Fox 9 television report, Jensen recommended that he be enrolled in a research clinic at the University of Minnesota. Swanson’s family did not see Jensen’s report until 4 months later when attorneys got a copy for the murder trial.  Then they learned that Jensen was concerned their son was a “risk to society if un-medicated.”

Watch the entire Fox 9 story by investigative reporter Jeff Baillon here.