Ethics board: Macchiarini guilty of scientific misconduct

1:12 min

Disgraced thoracic surgeon Paolo Macchiarini has been found guilty of scientific misconduct, according to Sweden's Central Ethical Review Board.

The board reviewed Macchiarini's 2014 article "Experimental orthotopic transplantation of a tissue-engineered esophagus in rats" published in the journal Nature Communication. It found the article offered "inadequate and incomplete documentation" and that "the presentation of the results in the article are not consistent with the results of the research conducted".

Macchiarini was article's lead researcher and although the board says the other 20 or so listed authors bare some responsibility for the misconduct, the board has some sympathy for the more junior researchers that may have been in a position of dependence on Macchiarini as well as the other leaders of the research team.

"This doesn't absolve them of responsibility, but may be seen as a mitigating circumstance," the board wrote in news release.

Macchiarini, who was said to have pioneer throat transplants using synthetic windpipes bathed in a patients stem cells, was first suspected of misconduct back in in 2014.

At that time, four doctors with the Karolinska University Hospital reported him to the Karolinska Institute's then-Vice Chancellor Anders Hamsten. It was alleged that Macchiarini distorted the facts about operations with artificial trachea when he presented them in a number of scientific articles.

In March 2015, Macchiarini was acquitted of charges of research misconduct of by the Institute's ethical council. A few months later in May, an external investigator professor emeritus Bengt Gerdin said the data in some of Macchiarini's articles did not match his own journal entries.