Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California, has fired a prominent researcher who studies the parasitic disease toxoplasmosis as well as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), citing unspecified behavioral violations.
The school fired Jose Montoya on 30 May, The Stanford Daily first reported.
A Stanford spokesperson provided ScienceInsider with this statement:
The School of Medicine has made the decision to terminate Dr. Montoya’s employment with the University. Upon receipt of complaints relating to his conduct, we promptly initiated an investigation led by an outside attorney and Stanford faculty member that found multiple violations of the University’s conduct policies. We believe that this is the appropriate course of action for the Stanford University community based on these findings. We note that Dr. Montoya has the right to appeal this decision. We are not commenting further on this matter out of respect for the privacy of all individuals involved.
Montoya could not be reached for comment.
On Twitter, some members of the CFS community, who also call the disease myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), voiced dismay. Journalist Hillary Johnson, who wrote a book on the puzzling condition, tweeted that Montoya is “A brilliant MD who singlehandedly turned Stanford around on ME years ago, who believed the FIRST patient he ever saw—at a time when powers at Stanford had decreed ME patients could not even be seen there.”
Originally from Colombia, Montoya has directed the Toxoplasma Serology Laboratory at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation since 2008, according to his Stanford faculty profile. He has published dozens of articles on Toxoplasma gondii, the infectious parasite that is passed by contaminated food and water and damages fetuses. He has received multiple awards for teaching excellence.
It’s not known what conduct led to Stanford’s action. But the medical school’s statement went on to say:
The University has robust policies providing for the fair and respectful treatment of employees, including the School of Medicine’s Statement on the Respectful Workplace, the University’s Code of Conduct, and related policies prohibiting harassment and discrimination. When conduct in violation of any of these policies occurs, the University will act to stop the conduct.