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Finding Potti

Disgraced former Duke University cancer researcher Anil Potti has landed at the Cancer Center of North Dakota in Grand Forks, the Grand Forks Herald reports.

Potti has been tending to patients while working on a provisional license to practice medicine as a medical oncologist, and according to his boss, William Noyes, "most, if not all, his patients love him."

Potti left Duke in late 2010 under a cloud of scandal after he and colleagues published several papers claiming they could predict lung cancer progression based on gene expression levels using microarrays. Their research and results were later questioned and eventually Potti was accused of manipulating the data.

Duke proceeded to suspend him as well as clinical trials based on his research and retracted his published data.

In spite of Potti's controversial past, Noyes says he has no qualms about his abilities, according to the Grand Forks Herald. Noyes, who started the independent, privately held Cancer Center, defends Potti as a victim of unfair accusations and says his past troubles are a "dead issue." Potti has worked with Noyes since May.

Pointing to an article in Science published in March, Noyes adds that the troubles at Duke resulted from a lack of institutional control at Duke and could not be pinned on Potti.

Potti took a job at a medical practice in South Carolina after leaving Duke. He may or may not have been fired from that post after 60 Minutes aired a piece on the Potti problems.

The newspaper says that the North Dakota State Board of Medical Examiners voted unanimously to give Potti a license to practice medicine on July 27. The board had not been aware that Potti lost his job in South Carolina, but it did look at Potti's public reprimands from the state medical boards of North Carolina and Missouri and determined that there was nothing "in [Potti's] history that had to do with competency of direct patient care or anything like that," Duane Houdek, executive director of the North Dakota medical board, tells the newspaper. "That was the basis for our issuing him a license.

"Obviously, the whole thing with the clinical trails is disturbing," he notes.