Scandal in The Laboratories

Inquiries at Stanford turn a harsh light on how university research is funded

The earthquake that rocked San Francisco almost two years ago did $160 million worth of damage to nearby Stanford University. This week tremors of a different sort threaten to rattle the elite Palo Alto-based institution -- and dent its coffers by as much as $200 million. On Wednesday, Michigan Democrat John Dingell, chairman of a House investigative subcommittee, is to hold a daylong hearing on allegations that throughout the 1980s, Stanford routinely overcharged taxpayers for millions of dollars in research-related expenses.

No fewer than four federal agencies are looking into the creative- bookkeeping practices that enabled the university to bill Uncle...

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