Published: 09-09-2016 19:05 | Updated: 16-09-2016 09:34

External inquiry finds Paolo Macchiarini guilty of misconduct

A statement issued by the expert group for misconduct at the Central Ethical Review Board (CEPN) finds Paolo Macchiarini guilty of scientific misconduct.

“It’s liberating to have received the CEPN’s unambiguous confirmation that Paolo Macchiarini was guilty of scientific misconduct. It means we can now vigorously continue the work we’ve begun, getting to grips with flawed internal procedures and ensuring quality and strict compliance. We apologise once again to the whistleblowers for KI’s incorrect handling of their reports,” says Karin Dahlman-Wright, Acting Vice-Chancellor at Karolinska Institutet.

The pronouncement from the expert group for misconduct at the CEPN (in Swedish) refers to an article describing the transplantation of synthetic tracheae in rats published in Nature Communications in 2014. All authors have been invited to comment before the Acting Vice-Chancellor of Karolinska Institutet takes a new decision on the issue of misconduct.

According to the group, Paolo Macchiarini, as the article’s lead author, is guilty of scientific misconduct for having been misleading in both the presentation and interpretation of their results. Some of the raw data on which the published results were based were also withheld.

The expert group also finds that the researchers might have deviated from the terms of the ethical permit for animal experimentation. The inquiry reports that the rats used for the research exhibited considerable weight-loss, but information about how much varies. The requested laboratory notebooks were not released.

“The lack of clarity surrounding the ethical permits is so serious that we’re taking immediate action,” says Henrik Grönberg, Karolinska Institutet’s Acting Pro-Vice-Chancellor. “We will be appointing an external investigator to examine all animal experiments conducted by Paolo Macchiarini at KI. We’re also imposing an animal experiment injunction against all participating researchers.”

Paolo Macchiarini, visiting professor and researcher at KI from 2010 to 2016, was cleared in August 2015 of all allegations of scientific misconduct by the then Vice-Chancellor Anders Hamsten. His decision was later heavily disputed in light of the SVT documentary series “Experimenten” (the Experiments) on Paolo Macchiarini that was broadcast in February 2016. Acting Vice-Chancellor Karin Dahlman-Wright resumed the misconduct inquiry in March, at which time she asked for an independent statement from the CEPN’s expert group for misconduct in research.

Read more about the Macchiarini case.