Berger, Abi. "Feud Splits World of Schizophrenia Researchers," New Scientist 27 May 1995, p.
Long-standing bitterness between two American scientists has flared up again in a row that is
holding up vital research into schizophrenia. The scientists used to work together, but are now
fighting over intellectual property and whose name should appear on academic papers. The feud
has delayed publication of their work for two years, and prevented other groups from confirming
The flak began to fly again earlier this month after Scott Diehl and his colleagues reported
findings that chromosome 6 is a likely location for a gene that makes people susceptible to
schizophrenia. The paper appears in the latest edition of _Nature Genetics_.
Diehl, who is now based at the National Institute of Dental Research in Maryland, used to work
as a geneticist at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond as part of a team working on
schizophrenia. The head of that team, Kenneth Kendler, alleges that when Diehl left in 1993 he
took the credit for ideas which were not all his own. The paper in _Nature Genetics_ reports
these and other ideas and is based on data collected before Diehl left.
When a scientist leaves an institute, data and materials can be released, but only with the
institute's permission. In this case, Diehl asked for some data to be released, but the request was
denied. He alleges that computer discs which contained data he was working one were seized by
former colleagues. "This left the material in inexperienced hands," says Diehl, "and there was a
delay of 18 months while a new team of scientist at Virginia developed the skills necessary to
continue the research." Diehl says that most of the statistics in his paper were calculated after he
Kendler says the time was actually spent extending the team's work, and ensuring that the
findings were significant. Later, they passed the results to a limited group of researchers to see if
they could be reproduced. Diehl argues that this was "inappropriate" because it was not the
Virginia group's work.
Last year, the National Institutes of Health intervened, and concluded that if an agreement to
collaborate could not be reached, then both teams should publish independently so long as they
acknowledged each other's contributions. But even this has snot resolved the dispute.
Kendler says he only discovered that Diehl had submitted a paper to _Nature Genetics_ four days
before it was published. But Diehl counters that he asked Kendler if he wanted to be cited as an
author. Kendler said he would accept only if he appeared as senior author, and since Diehl had
already taken this slot, he declined.
According to William Dewey, vice-president of the Department of Research and Graduate
Affairs at the Virginia Commonwealth University, other contributors to the project have also
been omitted from the list of authors. "This article would leave the reader completely in the dark
about the origin of the work." he says.
The potential losses to schizophrenia research are significant. Journal articles are used as
progress reports by funding bodies, which need to know who to fund and where they work.
"Academic antagonism has blocked replication of the work for too long, in a field that
desperately needs advancing," says Kevin Davies, editor of _Nature Genetics_. "In future, we
may have to publish work from consortiums, rather than from individuals."