Virginia Commonweath University's Secret Research for Philip Morris

Tobacco spinAs CMD previously reported, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) operates a School of Medicine and a School of Public Health while enjoying a cozy relationship with the tobacco industry, especially cigarette maker Philip Morris (PM). Now the New York Times reports that in 2006, VCU entered into a secret and extraordinarily restrictive research contract with PM that bars researchers from publishing, or even talking about, study results without first getting approval from PM. If news organizations ask about the contract, university officials are supposed to decline to comment and tell PM about the inquiry. All patents and other intellectual property created under the contract go to PM. The contract violates VCU guidelines for industry-sponsored research, which state "University faculty and students must be free to publish their results." David Rosner, a professor of public health and history at Columbia University in New York, says VCU's contract is "counter to the entire purpose and rationale of a university." VCU President Eugene Trani, who refused to be interviewed for the Times article, owns 6,250 shares of common stock in the Universal Leaf Corporation and sits on their Board of Directors.