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Research Studies by Harvard Lab Must Be Retracted

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      Kathleen Sheffer
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      researcher

      Yesterday the New York Times published an article about an investigation into a Harvard researcher’s laboratory. Investigators claim Dr. Piero Anversa and his colleagues falsified and fabricated data in 31 studies and have charged him with extensive scientific malpractice.

      Dr. Anversa caught the attention of the world in 2001 with a study claiming that, contrary to scientific consensus, heart muscle could be regenerated. The implication of that claim was that we could develop a new way to replace cells lost in heart attacks and heart failure, leading killers in the United States.

      Dr. Anversa’s method was to take stem cells from bone marrow and inject them into the heart. As if by magic, he reported, the stem cells turned into heart cells and repaired damage. Companies were formed based on his reports, but researchers failed to duplicate Dr. Anversa’s work. Lab after lab tried, but no one else could get bone marrow cells to change into heart cells.

      You can read the full article here.

      People wanted to believe Dr. Anversa’s claims. Patients wanted the hope he offered. Companies wanted a share of the success. Now officials at Harvard Medical School say 31 papers published by Dr. Anversa’s laboratories should be retracted.

      The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced Monday that they are pausing a clinical trial of cardiac stem cells that began in 2015 inspired by Dr. Anversa’s reports. Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Partners Healthcare agreed to pay the federal government $10 million in 2017 to settle allegations that Dr. Anversa and two of his colleagues fraudulently obtained research funding from the NIH.

      Not only does this news come with disappointment for researchers and those involved in related clinical trials, it is a blow to all of us connected to medical research. Like me, I’m sure you want to trust that doctors and researchers are using funding efficiently and honestly. We can’t afford to waste time on fabricated research. Our lives depend on real medical advances.

      How do you feel about this news? I know some of you go to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, one of Dr. Anversa’s former employers. Had you heard about his research? Did you know about the investigation? Do you think this will impact future research studies?

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