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Call for review over allegations McGill asbestos research was skewed

A group of 30 physicians and academics want McGill University to conduct an independent investigation into allegations that a researcher skewed study results on behalf of the asbestos industry.

The group includes experts from Canada and around the world.

The experts have filed a complaint with the school saying research conducted by a former professor lacks transparency and contains manipulated data.

J. Corbett McDonald, who is now retired, began studying mortality rates associated with asbestos in 1966 — he looked at about 11,000 Quebec miners and asbestos fibres.

McDonald and his research team published a series of studies between 1971 to 1998 funded in part by a branch of the Quebec Mining Association, something which McGill claims McDonald acknowledged.

But critics dispute that claim saying McDonald didn’t always disclose when his research was funded by the asbestos industry.

McGill said last week it would conduct its own, internal probe after a CBC report alleged several decades of research could have been influenced by the asbestos industry.

David Eidelman, McGill’s dean of medicine, said last week that while McDonald drew different conclusions about the safe use of asbestos from some current-day authorities, he also showed that asbestos is a carcinogen associated with lung cancer.

Eidelman said the university’s researchers perform their work to the highest ethical standards and the university isn’t currently getting funding from the asbestos industry.