Universal Medicine under the spotlight
A NORTHERN Rivers group has responded to news of an investigation in which one of its members has been accused of failing to declare a conflict of interest in university research.
The University of Queensland (UQ) will investigate after a complaint about PhD student Christoph Schnelle, who has ties to Goonellabah-based Universal Medicine (UM).
UM founder Serge Benhayon said he had no involvement in the research in question, but noted the university would be "duty bound to investigate any complaint".
UQ pro-vice chancellor for research Professor Mark Blows said the university was "recognised as a research institution of international standing that takes research integrity extremely seriously".
"We investigate all complaints about research conduct thoroughly and in accordance with the principles of procedural fairness," he said.
He said UQ had received a complaint about alleged undeclared conflicts of interest in research by a UQ PhD student which it was claimed were presented in three published journal articles.
"The research related to participants in, and practices promoted by, an organisation called Universal Medicine and in part drew on information from the Australian Longitudinal Study in Women's Health," he said.
Professor Blows said the university was committed to correcting the scientific record if there were errors or significant omissions discovered during any investigation.
"When investigations into allegations of errors or research misconduct are substantiated, the University notifies relevant academic journals, funding agencies and issues public statements as appropriate," he said.
Mr Schnelle said government departments were required to investigate all complaints "at great expense to the taxpayer and everyone involved".
He said the complaint centered on a study which compared Universal Medicine members to participants in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health.
The peer-reviewed article appeared in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.
"Notably, nobody has questioned the validity of these results," Mr Schnelle said.
"What has been questioned is the relationship of the researchers to Universal Medicine."
He said researchers linked to UM did declare the connection in submitting the article.
Mr Schnelle said the allegations were "at best, complete nonsense".
Mr Schnelle writes a financial advice column for The Northern Star for which he is not paid.