NEJM yanks 1 paper, probes 2 others written by ex-Brigham and Women's researcher

The New England Journal of Medicine issued a retraction for one paper written by a former Brigham and Women's Hospital researcher and issued an "expression of concern" about two other papers that list him as a co-author, according to STAT News.

Here are six things to know:

1. The New England Journal of Medicine said Oct. 17 the papers were all co-authored by Piero Anversa, MD, a former researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, both in Boston. The publication said several of Dr. Anversa's co-authors reached out and asked the journal to retract their 2011 study "Evidence for human lung stem cells."

2. The co-authors reportedly cited a recent investigation by Harvard and Brigham and Women's into Dr. Anversa as the reason they asked for a retraction. The probe reportedly concluded some of the images in the article were manipulated.

"A review of the original data affirms this conclusion and has led us to conclude that we no longer have faith in the veracity of these images," The New England Journal of Medicine said in its retraction, quoting the unnamed co-authors. "As we were not aware of this manipulation of the data until long after the paper had been published, we now request that the article be retracted."

3. Two other papers, published in 2001 and 2002, came from Dr. Anversa's lab at Valhalla-based New York Medical College, where he worked prior to Brigham and Women's. The New England Journal of Medicine referenced an investigation conducted by Brigham and Women's that found evidence consistent with data fabrication and image manipulation, casting doubt on the two papers, the report states.

"We are communicating with the authors of the 2001 and 2002 articles and with institutional officials at the New York Medical College concerning the veracity of the data presented therein," the journal said.

4. Dr. Anversa directed a lab at Brigham and Women's from 2007 until the lab was closed in 2015. He is no longer employed by the hospital. He has corrected at least eight previous papers, many of which failed to disclose conflicts of interest, according to the report.

5. Brigham and Women's agreed to a $10 million settlement with the federal government in 2017 over allegations Dr. Anversa and two colleagues' work had been used to fraudulently obtain funding, STAT reports. Dr. Anversa and a colleague sued Harvard and Brigham and Women's in 2014 for unsuccessfully alerting medical journals to issues with their work.

6. In an Oct. 17 statement to STAT, lawyers for Dr. Anversa and the colleague said: "Neither Dr. Anversa nor Dr. Leri ever altered or changed images or data at any time. Drs. Anversa and Leri stand by the scientific findings in their papers, including the existence and potential therapeutic benefits of cardiac stem cells."

To access the full report, click here.

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