Daily Archives: February 3, 2011

Vulnerability of research database results in controversial demotion of UNC-CH prof

Here’s a wake-up call for PIs who collect personal information about people participating in their research projects:

A cancer researcher at UNC-CH is being held responsible for a vulnerability in her project’s database that allowed a hacker to access 180,000 patient files.  Epidemiologist Bonnie Yankaskas has been demoted from professor to associate professor; her pay was cut almost in half.  But it could have been worse — the university initially wanted to fire her.

The case is going into mediation, so it’s unclear what the ultimate outcome will be for Yankaskas.  But for now, at least, the researcher is being held personally responsible for the security of her research data.   A group of faculty members at Chapel Hill and elsewhere have signed a petition supporting her.  Click here for details from The News & Observer.