Yale scientist suspected of stealing lab equipment

Yale Police twice this summer searched the Woodbridge, Conn., home of former Yale genome researcher Lars Branden, who is suspected of filching laboratory equipment from the University.

Officers seized three boxes of equipment, valued at $22,000, which Branden allegedly stole from the University, but have not charged him with any crime. Branden told the New Haven Register that the search and seizure resulted from a misunderstanding.

Lars Branden directed the Yale Center for Throughput Cell Biology until last year.
YDN
Lars Branden directed the Yale Center for Throughput Cell Biology until last year.

Branden was the director of the Yale Center for High Throughput Cell Biology, which focuses on molecular and cellular biology, from 2008 until last year. Branden’s wife, Sara Branden, who alerted Yale Police about the equipment and is currently filing for divorce, told the New Haven Register that her husband was dismissed by Yale in 2009 because of complaints about his behavior and alleged threats he made to colleagues. But Branden told the Register that he left voluntarily to spend more time on his art.

Michael Donoghue, vice president for West Campus planning and program development, said that he did not know about the allegations against Branden, and University spokesman Tom Conroy declined to comment.

Branden did not respond to requests for comment over the summer.

YPD detectives first searched Branden’s house June 5 as part of a larceny investigation, and they returned three weeks later. Police launched the investigation after Sara Branden showed them pictures June 1 of the equipment in the garage of the home she shared with her husband. The serial numbers on the equipment in the pictures indicated it was Yale’s property, according to police.

Sara Branden said in court documents that Branden had stolen $150,000 from his in-laws’ bank account and from the account Sara had shared with him.

Branden told the scientific journal BioTechniques in July that he had permission from the University to store the equipment in his house.

“I had a release form from Yale regarding offsite storage of Yale property dated August 2008,” he said.

He said he could not return the equipment after his permission expired because at the time he did not have access to his home due to his ongoing divorce proceedings.

YPD officials did not return repeated phone and e-mail requests for comment this week.

Before Yale, Branden worked at the Swedish Karolinska Institute and Columbia University. A Columbia spokeswoman said the university cannot give out information about former employees.

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