April 24, 2024

Stem cell chief skids on banana peel

The newly-appointed head of the world’s biggest stem cell program, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, IVF scientist Alan Trounson, has been embarrassed by irregularities in a research program which he had been supervising at Monash University, in Melbourne, Australia.

An adult stem cell project which he was supervising has been scrapped after an audit in November last year found that a scientist’s progress reports did not match his lab records. Although Professor Trounson is not under investigation — it must be stressed — he was the principal investigator and apparently did sign the doubtful report.

The researcher in question has left the university. He was a senior member of a team working on a lung regeneration project which was attempting to use adult mesenchymal stem cells to regenerate lung tissue to treat cystic fibrosis. It had received A$1.2 million funding over 18 months from the Australian Stem Cell Centre.

The news did not shake the confidence of the CIRM. "I am fully aware of this and it is not Alan’s work that is being questioned," Robert Klein, CIRM founder and chairman, told The Australian. "My understanding is that this is a data issue that relates to the science carried out by a specific researcher." He said that Professor Trounson had raised the issue in discussions with the CIRM before his appointment.