Medical school faculty try, and fail, to investigate Florida surgeon general

The University of Florida’s head of research said that the university cannot investigate Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo for advising against COVID-19 vaccines for young men.

A report by medical school faculty said that Ladapo, a UF professor, potentially committed ‘research integrity violations.’

The head of research at the University of Florida (UF) determined that the university has no authority to investigate professor and Florida Surgeon General Joseph A. Ladapo for his COVID-19 research. 

Medical school faculty recently created a report on Ladapo, who argued “against Covid-19 mRNA vaccination for young men,” citing studies on “cardiac-related mortality risk” in The Wall Street Journal

UF Vice President for Research David Norton told The Washington Post, “‘As this work was done by the Dr. Joseph Ladapo in his role as the state of Florida Surgeon General and not in his role as a UF faculty member, the UF Office of Research Integrity, Security and Compliance has no standing to consider the allegations or concerns regarding research integrity set forth in the Faculty Council task force report.’”

Still, the UF College of Medicine Faculty Council, which recommended that Norton’s office review Ladapo’s research, claimed that Ladapo potentially committed “research integrity violation[s].” The council’s report references “Section 3.B.3 of the UF faculty policy on Research Integrity,” which says, “Reports of careless, irregular, or contentious research practices, as well as authorship disputes, may not meet the standard for research misconduct but may be a research integrity violation.”

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Alleged flaws in Ladapo’s research included the committee’s analysis that “cardiac death among [young] males” is not “statistically significant” and that his methodology “cannot usefully inform public policy.”

“This is because policy recommendations must be based not only on the risks of public health programs like vaccination, but also its benefits,” the summary report continued. 

Governor Ron DeSantis appointed Ladapo in 2021. Since then, he “has become a controversial national figure because of his positions on issues such as COVID-19 vaccines and mask requirements,” according to WUSF

Though there is disagreement in the scientific community on COVID-19 policies, reports show the impact that these policies can have, especially on children and young adults. 

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A Stanford economist predicted that learning losses from remote instruction, which K-12 schools adopted during the pandemic, will cost the average student approximately $70,000 in lifetime earnings. 

Eric A. Hanushek, the economist behind the study, told Campus Reform that “post-vaccines,” policies should “work hard at returning to in-class instruction.” 

Another report by Campus Reform suggested that pandemic lockdowns impacted students’ grades and mental health. 

In 2021, a study by Pennsylvania State University reported that 72% of respondents said the pandemic had affected their mental health. 66% claimed the pandemic negatively impacted their academic performance,” Campus Reform wrote. 

“As such, the U.S. Department of Education ordered colleges and universities to shift their unspent COVID-19 relief funding to increase mental health resources on campus.”

Campus Reform contacted Ladapo, the University of Florida, the Office of Research Integrity, and the School of Medicine Faculty Council for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.