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Harvard agrees to repay $1.3M for federal grant overcharges

The overcharges were self-reported by the university, according to the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts.

The Harvard University campus in Cambridge. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Harvard University has agreed to pay more than $1.3 million to settle claims that a research team at the Ivy League school overcharged certain federal grants, federal prosecutors in Boston say.

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The team at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health led by former professor Donna Spiegelman overcharged the government $1,359,791 between 2009 and 2014 by overstating the time and effort members put into projects funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Health Resources & Services Administration, the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts said in a statement Monday.

The overcharges were self-reported by the university, the statement said.

“Grant fraud wastes scarce government resources and limits the availability of funding for other research,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said.

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Spiegelman, in a statement released to The Boston Globe through her attorney, said Harvard hadn’t consulted her before agreeing to a settlement and denied any wrongdoing.

Michelle Williams, dean of the faculty at the Chan School, said in a statement the university’s own investigation identified reporting discrepancies for Spiegelman and members of her research group that resulted in charges to multiple NIH awards that could not be fully documented.

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