2 Nobel Judges Fired as 'Biggest Scandal' Roils Sweden

Entire board at Karolinska Institute dismissed over disgraced surgeon
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2016 11:45 AM CDT
2 Nobel Judges Fired as 'Biggest Scandal' Roils Sweden
In this July 30, 2010, file photo, Dr. Paolo Macchiarini looks on during a press conference in Florence, Italy.   (AP Photo/Lorenzo Galassi, file)

The medical university that awards the Nobel Prize for Medicine was rocked this week after an investigation presented Monday showed negligence in the hiring and handling of a now-disgraced stem-cell surgeon, Reuters and the Independent report. Dr. Paolo Macchiarini was fired from the Karolinska Institute in March after it emerged his résumé was falsified, he misrepresented his work, and six "guinea pig" patients had died under his charge, per the Telegraph (prosecutors are looking into involuntary manslaughter charges for two of those cases). Among those now told to pack it in: the institute's entire board, which was dismissed by the Swedish government, and Nobel judges Harriet Wallberg and Anders Hamsten, per the AP. "Scandal is the right word," Sweden's education minister said, noting "people have been harmed because of the actions of the Karolinska Institute."

The Verge reports that an external probe and case study presented over the last two weeks show that experimental trachea transplants Macchiarini performed had major ethical issues, including a methodology that hadn't been adequately tested and patients who weren't sick enough to qualify for the procedure. Plus, investigators say Macchiarini should have never made it past the 2009 recruitment process, with the institute's management showing a "stunning" indifference to bad references and "questionable" data in some of his publications. The former head of Karolinska's ethics committee, who calls this "the biggest scandal we have ever had in Swedish medicine," per the Washington Post, says the Nobel panel shouldn't award the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in October for two years and instead give the money to the families of Macchiarini's patients. (Vanity Fair says Macchiarini used "love, money, and the pope" to scam a news producer.)

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