February 25, 2024

Harvard calls for retraction of dozens of studies by stem cell researcher

Officials say 31 studies should be retracted.

A world-renown cardiac researcher and former Harvard Medical School professor has been accused of fabricating or falsifying the data in 31 of his published studies.

Piero Anversa is an Italian-born researcher who rose to fame in the early 2000s after publishing pioneering studies on the regeneration of the heart tissue by stem cells. Anversa moved to Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2007, and was appointed a full professor in 2010.

But Anversa left Harvard in 2015 after questions were raised about the veracity of his research. Now, officials from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have recommended that that 31 papers from a former lab director be retracted from journals. The papers “included falsified and/or fabricated data,” according to a statement to Retraction Watch and STAT from the two institutions.

Last year, the hospital agreed to a US$10 million settlement with the US government over allegations Anversa and two colleagues’ work had been used to fraudulently obtain federal funding. Stem cell researchers at other labs around the US have routinely failed to replicate Anversa’s results.

Some researchers have welcomed the investigation into Anversa’s research, saying that the idea of regenerative stems cells existing in the heart is implausible. “It really is a relief that this has been corrected”, said Jeffery Molkentin, a researcher at Cincinnati Children’s whose lab was among the first to question the basis of Anversa’s results in a 2014 paper in Nature. “There are no stem cells in the heart. Quit trying to publish those results”.

Experts have expressed concern that a clinical trial based on Anversa’s research is continuing to recruit patients.

Harvard Calls for Retraction of Dozens of Studies by Noted Cardiac Researcher
Xavier Symons
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stem cell research