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Credit: Carson Kahoe

An internal investigation from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital found that there is fraudulent data in 31 scientific publications from the laboratory of a prominent cardiac researcher.

“Following a review of research conducted in the former lab of Piero Anversa, we determined that 31 publications included falsified and/or fabricated data, and we have notified all relevant journals,” the two institutions where Anversa held appointments said in a joint statement.

Anversa and his colleagues were credited with finding a population of c-kit stem cells in the heart, which suggested the organ had the ability to regenerate. However, further research from other scientists has found that c-kit cells do not work in the way he suggested and that they only minimally contribute to the regeneration of heart tissue. 

Anversa’s work helped lay the groundwork for clinical trials and led to other cardiologists studying how to repair the heart with stem cells. His research was funded by millions of dollars from the federal government; however, Brigham and Women's Hospital disclosed to the Department of Justice last year that Anversa’s laboratory had fraudulently obtained federal grant funding. 

As a result, Brigham ended up paying $10 million to the government to resolve allegations that Anversa, along with his colleagues Annarosa Leri and Jan Kajsturahat, made claims to the National Institutes of Health when appealing for NIH grants that included false scientific information. The false information included confocal microscope images and carbon-14 age data for cells. 

“A bedrock principle of science is that all publications are supported by rigorous research practices,” Harvard and Brigham and Women's Hospital’s original statement read. “The scientific community is interdependent and reliant on the rigor and good faith of researchers as we work collaboratively to advance knowledge and transform human health.”

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