Duke University Dumped Doc Who Exposed Lack of Evidence for ‘Racism’ as a Public Health Crisis

Dr. Kendall Conger, Duke University
by Greg Piper


Two years ago this month, the University of Pennsylvania law school stopped accusing a tenured professor of making up statistics about black student performance, which she called defamatory, after ignoring requests for the supposedly correct statistics going back four years.

Dean Ted Ruger still sought “major sanctions” against Amy Wax for “intentional and incessant racist, sexist, xenophobic, and homophobic actions and statements,” and disgraced ex-President Liz Magill approved a hearing board’s recommended one-year suspension, slashed pay and mandatory scarlet letter in her public appearances.

As Wax awaits a decision on her final appeal of the sanctions, Duke University’s health system faces similar accusations of retaliation against a doctor for calling out the admitted lack of clinical evidence behind its claim that “racism is a public health crisis” in a May 2021 pledge against “racism, bias, and hate” that was purportedly “guided by science.”

Duke Health notified Raleigh emergency room physician Kendall Conger (pictured above) his contract was not being renewed after June 30 under “termination not for cause,” because his behavior is “negatively impacting the emergency physician team, which could jeopardize the care of patients” and undermines its “respectful and collegial work environment.”

Administrators commonly use perceived lack of collegiality to circumvent academic freedom promises, and at least two federal appeals courts upheld its invocation against race-related speech at public universities in the past year, although the private Duke isn’t affected by them.

Asked if Duke Health’s action following Conger’s public speech could be investigated as a violation of its accreditation terms, its accreditor The Joint Commission told Just the News it “works with healthcare organizations to identify potential risks to patient safety and improve quality of care” but didn’t say whether violation of academic freedom is grounds for a probe.

“Based on the nature of the complaint, a number of actions may result, including the potential for an immediate, for-cause survey by The Joint Commission, the state of jurisdiction, or other agencies,” but it does not disclose “complainant identity and details of complaints,” spokesperson Maureen Lyons said.

Conger exposed Duke Health’s lack of clinical evidence for its pledge claim in an article for the North Carolina-based James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal in May 2023, posting the top of a redacted Feb. 18, 2022 email from a person Conger called a “senior administrator.”

The person said “I have looked” without success for a “randomized blinded trial that proves implicit bias is the cause of worse health outcomes for African Americans,” but insisted there’s “ample causal inference data in the social sciences that link the two” and “undeniable trends” show that “people of color” have worse clinical outcomes in America, “even at Duke.”

Conger said he responded that Duke Health is not supposed to rely on such “inherently political” data. “Duke was presuming to make a political assertion on behalf of its employees, who were in no position to push back … acting politically under the guise of medical science,” he wrote.

Though Duke Health’s May 12, 2021 internal announcement of the new pledge invited staff to share “any experience or perspective contrary” to the pledge’s statements, Conger said it didn’t respond to his first general or second more detailed query on whether it promotes “equal outcomes for groups, or the equal treatment of individuals?”

He threatened to go public two months later,, if it ignored his third query, with his concern that Duke Health will spark “a real public-health crisis … from favoring a race-based ideology over evidence-based care.”

Conger shared his “farewell address” with online publication American Thinker July 2, accusing Duke Health of “leading us away from the successful melting-pot vision to the dreadfully unsuccessful socialist vision” based on the dogma that “whites are unconscious racists.”

“I have social science data Duke probably doesn’t want to hear,” he wrote. “Of course there was no clinical data. It’s not a scientifically provable hypothesis but a failed political ideology.”

He doesn’t explicitly say Duke Health let him go, however, just referring to “my departure” and saying “I wouldn’t be bamboozled, cowed or silenced by this tulip bulb mania which is bound to collapse.”

The farewell doesn’t include the non-renewal letter, which appeared as a photo a day earlier in a Martin Center article by program coordinator Mike Markham of Color Us United, led by anti-affirmative action activists including Kenny Xu and Ward Connerly and anti-woke activists including Chris Rufo and James Lindsay.

The date and sender are redacted in the photo, but image metadata show the Martin Center had the letter by June 18. It has other documents and alleged incidents apparently provided and recounted by Conger, whose handlers told Just the News Wednesday the doctor may not be able to share other documents he has mentioned until Friday.

Conger received the letter “a few weeks” after he told colleagues what his supervisor had told him in December 2023, that Duke Health resists engaging with Conger’s concerns because of his penchant for publicly sharing those discussions, according to Markham.

Unmentioned in Conger’s article last year, Markham said the doctor “reached out” to President Barbara Griffith “several times, including at an initial in-person meeting,” but was never given “any scientific or clinical justification for the idea that racism is a significant issue in medicine.”

Markham posted a photo of an on-screen illustration, from what Markham described as a “Duke-sponsored function” Conger witnessed.

It shows a red-headed white man labeled “AGENT” hovering over five people labeled “TARGET” with a different verb over each head, who appear to be black (“discriminate”), Asian (“marginalize”), transgender woman (“oppress”), lesbian or nonbinary person (“disenfranchise”) and a white blonde woman (“exploit”).

“Again, no scientific or clinical data was offered to justify or explain why a major healthcare provider espoused such darkly generalized views of individuals,” Markham wrote.

Duke Health didn’t respond to Just the News queries for its response to Conger’s farewell address and Markham’s article, its evidence for racism as a public health crisis, how its actions comport with its accreditation requirements and its view of massive racial justice protests during COVID-19 lockdowns that many pro-lockdown public health figures promoted.

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Just the News’ reporter Greg Piper has covered law and policy for nearly two decades, with a focus on tech companies, civil liberties and higher education.
Photo “Dr. Kendall Conger” by Dr. Kendall Conger and “Duke University” by Duke University.



Reprinted with permission from Just the News.

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