November 29, 2022

Trounson not involved in research misconduct, says his university

California stem cell institute has full confidence in new president


The new chief of the world’s biggest stem cell project, the US$3
billion California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, has been
cleared of any misconduct by his university after a research scandal.
A scientist working under Professor Alan Trounson, of Monash
University, in Melbourne, Australia, had "engaged in conduct
that was negligent and that seriously deviated from accepted
standards within the scientific and scholarly community for
conducting and reporting research", according to a committee
which investigated the matter. The Monash Vice-Chancellor, Professor
Richard Larkins, stressed that Professor Trounson himself was not
guilty of any misconduct. The researcher will be counselled.
According
to Professor Larkins
, "the matter is now
concluded".

Nonetheless, questions remain. This was no ordinary project. Had it
succeeded, it would have made headlines around the world. The erring
scientist, under Trounson’s supervision, had been investigating
whether treatment with adult stem cells could heal lungs damaged by
smoking. Now, however, the project is in ruins and the University
will have to refund another body, the Australian Stem Cell Centre,
$300,000 as compensation.

Professor Trounson is arguably Australia’s best-known scientist,
because of his work in IVF and embryonic stem cells, but Australian
newspapers, distracted by this weekend’s Federal election, have shown
relatively little interest in the story. However, an article in the
San Francisco Chronicle raises some questions. Professor Trounson was
aware of the problem last year and even mentioned it in his job
interview with the CIRM. The project was officially ended by Monash
in February and an major investigation was launched in April.
However, in June Professor Trounson and the erring scientist still
made four poster presentations about lung regeneration at the
International Society for Stem Cell Research in June in the northern
Australian city of Cairns. He assured the Chronicle that these
posters were based on data which were different from those under
investigation. The interim president of the CIRM, Richard Murphy,
whom Trounson is due to replace next month, says that the Institute
retains full confidence in Professor Trounson. ~ Australian,
Nov 17
; San
Francisco Chronicle, Nov 19