The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Bonnie Yankaskas, an epidemiologist, have settled a dispute over the extent to which she was responsible for a security breach in a computer database used for her studies on breast cancer, The News & Observer reported. The university -- in an action that dismayed many researchers at Chapel Hill and elsewhere -- held Yankaskas responsible, and demoted her from full to associate professor. She and her supporters argued that she was being made a scapegoat. Under the settlement, she is returning to full professor and her full professor's salary, but will retire at the end of the year.
The joint statement on the settlement is as follows: "The university acknowledges that Dr. Yankaskas is an eminent researcher and a long-standing faculty member, and that she has made many contributions to the advancement of science and the improvement of health care for women concerned about or experiencing breast cancer.... The university also acknowledges that there was a communication breakdown, which hindered Dr. Yankaskas from learning that CMR had a vulnerable server. Dr. Yankaskas acknowledges that, as principal investigator of CMR, she had the responsibility for the scientific, fiscal and ethical conduct of the project, and responsibility to hire and supervise the CMR information technology staff who, with assistance as requested from School of Medicine and University information technology professionals, operate and maintain the CMR computer systems on which secure data are maintained."