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An update from Chancellor Block on charges in UCLA’s lab safety case

To the campus community:

The tragic accident in December 2008 that took research associate Sheri Sangji’s life was a terrible day for everyone at UCLA and devastating for the Sangji family. In the wake of that tragedy, I made a pledge that UCLA would do everything in its power to become a national model for lab safety. Since then, we have worked to meet this challenge and today the Los Angeles County District Attorney has accepted our ongoing commitment to lab safety and agreed to dismiss all charges against the Regents of the University of California.

Unfortunately, this does not resolve this case. A valued and respected member of our faculty, Professor Patrick Harran, continues to face unwarranted charges in connection with the tragedy, which he is determined to fight. The decision by the District Attorney’s office to move forward with its prosecution is distressing and, even though the Regents have been released from this case, our engagement is far from over. UCLA and the Regents will continue our unwavering support for Professor Harran, a talented organic chemistry professor. We will continue to fully provide for his defense.
To honor Ms. Sangji’s memory, the Regents will establish a $500,000 scholarship in her name at the UC Berkeley School of Law – which sent her an acceptance letter shortly after the accident. We will also continue our work in lab safety, which will include establishing a lab safety program and policies for all 10 University of California campuses.

Long before these charges were ever filed, UCLA began working to enhance lab safety on our own campus and established the now nationally-recognized UC Center for Laboratory Safety. We realized it was critical that we do everything possible to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again – and that we help spread the message of lab safety throughout labs worldwide.

As I’ve said before, great institutions are measured by how they respond in difficult times. I am proud of the accomplishments of our students, faculty and staff in improving lab safety; their work will continue. UCLA’s long tradition of excellence and high standards demands it.
Gene D. Block
Media Contact