U of Pittsburgh cardiologist sues school, American Heart Association over backlash to his op-ed

A cardiologist at the University of Pittsburgh is suing his employer, the American Heart Association and the publisher of the association's peer-reviewed medical journal, claiming he was demoted and  slandered after penning an op-ed criticizing affirmative action, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Pittsburgh-based UPMC removed Norman Wang, MD, from his post as director of its clinical cardiac electrophysiology fellowship program in August after backlash erupted on Twitter about his peer-reviewed article, first published in March.

Dr. Wang filed the suit Dec. 16, alleging university leaders retaliated against him for exercising his right to free speech. The suit also claims AHA retracted Dr. Wang's article from the Journal of the American Heart Association without sharing any evidence of wrongdoing or errors. Other defendants named in the suit include UPMC, University of Pennsylvania Physicians — the medical group Dr. Wang is part of — and Wiley Periodicals, which publishes the medical journal, along with several other cardiology leaders at Pitt. 

"What's remarkable about this is that he was not punished for an inappropriate joke or an intemperate remark in the classroom, but for publishing a thoroughly researched article in a peer-reviewed journal," Terry Pell, president of the Center for Individual Rights, which is representing Dr. Wang in the suit, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

David Seldin, a spokesperson for Pitt, said the university is aware of the suit and will respond. 

"The University of Pittsburgh took no improper action against Dr. Wang, and we remain fully committed to advancing the value of academic freedom," Mr. Seldin told the publication.

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