Risky Research

Thousands of medical research studies happen every year in the U.S. and around the world. inewsource reporters Brad Racino and Jill Castellano have spent months investigating one human research study at the San Diego VA.

As part of the study, doctors took liver samples from sick veterans without their consent, and VA whistleblowers say the research put patients' lives in danger.

Stay up to date on the latest stories.



Brad Racino is a senior investigative reporter and assistant director at inewsource. He has produced investigations on topics including political corruption, transportation, health, maritime, education and nonprofits.
Contact him at bradracino@inewsource.org.


Jill Castellano is an investigative data reporter at inewsource. During the 2018 election, she focused on campaign finance reporting, including political party spending and the money behind the failed gas tax repeal.
Contact her at jillcastellano@inewsource.org.


San Diego VA confirms liver samples taken from sick veterans without their consent

February 26, 2019

An internal report from the San Diego VA reveals liver samples were taken from sick veterans without their permission. The October report found “serious noncompliance occurred” when extra pieces of liver were removed from at least nine veterans. The patients weren’t told those samples would be taken or that it could increase the risk of bleeding.


Even the head of $6M liver study doesn’t know what’s going on at San Diego VA

March 14, 2019

So far, our investigation has led us to contradictory government reports, confusing timelines and disagreements on basic facts. We hoped talking to Dr. Ramon Bataller would give us the answers we’ve been looking for.

Congress to hold hearing on San Diego VA human research

February 1, 2019

Congress will hold a hearing into allegations by two whistleblowers of dangerous human research conducted at the San Diego VA medical center.

Rep. Peters asks for congressional hearings into San Diego VA human research

November 27, 2018

Rep. Scott Peters on Monday requested congressional hearings over allegations of dangerous human research at the VA San Diego Healthcare System.

Dangerous human research alleged at San Diego VA

November 19, 2018

Two whistleblowers say dangerous medical research was performed on veterans suffering from alcoholism and liver disease at the San Diego VA.