• Home  / 
  • Featured
  •  /  Stem Cell Scientist Fired Over Negligence

Stem Cell Scientist Fired Over Negligence

Paolo Macchiarini

Public dismissals in the scientific world are few and far between, which makes the dismissal of Paolo Macchiarini newsworthy.

Karolinska University in Sweden has dismissed the Italian stem cell scientist Dr. Paolo Macchiarini over a breach of medical ethics. This is not the firing of a junior researcher, for Dr. Macchiarini’s work with stem cells has been considered pioneering. For example, Macchiarini was involved with the world’s first transplant using a windpipe partly made from a patient’s own stem cells in 2008.

Stem cells are undifferentiated biological cells that can differentiate into specialized cells such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell. This means the cells have considerable potential for the advancement of medicine.

As to why the researcher was dismissed, Karolinska University has indicated that Dr. Macchiarini has falsified his resume and been found guilty of “scientific negligence.” The charge appears to be that the scientist exaggerated the success of his artificial-trachea implants in several scientific papers.

The statement, quoted by The Independent, goes on to say that Dr. Macchiarini had “acted in a way that has had very tragic consequences for the people affected and their families.” This followed on from a Swedish documentary in which ethical concerns about Dr. Macchiarini’s studies were raised. The University has described the claims made in the documentary as “truly alarming.”

The documentary alleges that Dr. Macchiarini implanted one of his plastic tracheas into a woman who was not in a life-threatening condition.

In response, Dr. Macchiarini has told the science website Nature: “I do not accept any of the findings of the Disciplinary Board. I have instructed lawyers and will be taking immediate steps to restore my reputation.”

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.