The indestructible Swedish regenerative medicine researcher Suchitra Sumitran-Holgersson could have been stopped early on, and a patient of hers could have been alive still. The former professor at the Karolinska Institutet (KI) was caught faking data in 2009. A paper had to be retracted as consequence (Elsheikh et al, Blood, 2005) , but in 2011 the entire external investigation and its results was declared nil and void by the Swedish Research Council Vetenskapsrådet (VR) which had originally commissioned it. The reasons used back then were rather incomprehensible, it boiled down to the accusations against the two investigators themselves, of having found research misconduct where they were not supposed to find research misconduct (for details, see my earlier report). To top it off, all frozen funding of this cheater professor was reinstituted and the University of Gothenburg together with its Sahlgrenska University Hospital welcomed Sumitran-Holgersson as a “genius”. There, at the Department of Surgery at the Sahlgrenska Academy she established a hub of regenerative medicine, helped by her husband Jan Holgersson (whose company had been threatening his wife’s investigators, silently condoned by VR), and by the head surgeon Michael Olausson. Together, Sumitran-Holgersson and Olausson produced a string of regenerative medicine papers of which the University of Gothenburg and Sahlgrenska used to be very proud. Maybe less so these days, since a rich evidence of fresh data manipulations surfaced on PubPeer several months ago (see examples here). Meanwhile, part of Sumitran-Holgersson’s tremendous funding has been frozen, though VR still maintains their trust in her research. Apparently, also the Sahlgrenska Academy of Gothenburg.
The misconduct-tainted University of Gothenburg professor of transplantation biology Suchitra Sumitran-Holgersson (see my detailed report here), has now lost a critical publication due to data manipulation, her funding by the charity Hjärt-Lungfondens (Heart-Lung-Foundation) has been frozen. This is what the General Secretary of Hjärt-Lungfondens, Kristina Sparreljung told me:
“Suchitra Sumitran-Holgersson has an ongoing support from us during 2016 and 2017 with 500,000 Swedish crowns per year. She has received 500,000 Swedish crowns so far. As soon as the cheating issue came to our attention, we have made every effort to assess the situation and act properly based on the information we have. As a first step, we decided to freeze the payments. We have also asked the institution [University of Gothenburg, -LS] to freeze its payments, but they have decided to let Suchitra Sumitran-Holgersson research further until the investigation is complete. She will not receive any more money from us until the investigation is complete”.
“The funding of equipment to the Gothenburg University for Professor Sumatran-Holgerssons research has temporarily been suspended awaiting the outcome of the investigation re. Professor Sumitran-Holgersson’s research”.
The retracted paper by Sumitran-Holgersson (Berg et al, Tissue Eng Part A. 2014) concerns her experiments with Macchiarini-style “regenerated” trachea. There, an alleged cure of a 76-year old chronic asthma patient is described, who suffered death from infection shortly after receiving the trachea transplant. The operation was performed by Sumitran-Holgersson’s close collaborator, Michael Olausson, director of the Transplant Center at the University of Gothenburg. Continue reading “Sumitran-Holgersson’s funding frozen, paper retracted”
The Lancet, an elite medical journal published by Elsevier, is responsible for a number of controversial publications, on which its Editor-in-Chief Richard Horton and his editorial office have not always acted to everyone’s satisfaction.
The Lancet and the magic of stem cells
The probably biggest Lancet scandal now is that of the trachea transplant surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, the recently sacked professor at the Swedish Karolinska Institutet (KI). His most prominent critic, Belgian thoracic surgeon Pierre Delaere has publicly called on my site for a retraction of all four of Macchiarini’s paper in The Lancet (Macchiarini et al. 2008, Jungebluth et al. 2011, Badylak et al 2012, Gonfiotti et al. 2014); also the Swedish Academy of Sciences asked the journal to act on Macchiarini’s papers. Elsewhere, Italian media provided evidence that the Gonfiotti et al. 2014 case report paper “The first tissue-engineered airway transplantation: 5-year follow-up results” misrepresented the true medical condition of Macchiarini’s first stem –cell regenerated trachea recipient. Corriere Fiorentino reported in February 2016: Continue reading “Does The Lancet care about patients?”
The Paolo Macchiarini scandal draws wider circles, and unfortunately, it involves more unnecessary patient deaths though questionable tracheal transplants, this time at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
In 2011, scientists at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital of Gothenburg applied a method of bioreactor-engineered trachea (similar to that by Macchiarini) to operate on a 76-year old patient, possibly without a medical necessity (he had asthma since decades). The patient died 23 days later “due to cardiac arrest but with a patent, open, and stable tracheal transplant and intact anastomoses”. This is what the paper (Berg et al, Tissue Eng Part A. 2014) claims, which last author is Suchitra Sumitran-Holgersson, professor of transplantation biology at the Sahlgrenska Academy. The University of Gothenburg described Sumitran-Holgersson as “genius”, in an article presenting her rather unconventional method of purifying endothelial stem cells from patients’ blood. That work she did in collaboration with another Sahlgrenska professor and medical director of the Transplant Center, Michael Olausson.