Charles Vacanti, a Harvard anesthesiologist and stem cell pioneer whose name appeared on both retracted STAP stem cell papers, is giving up his post as chair of anesthesiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and taking a year-long sabbatical.
According to the Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog, which as become a must-read for anyone interested in the STAP saga, Vacanti — the corresponding author, with Haruko Obokata, on one of the Nature articles, and a co-author on the other — told colleagues in an email:
I plan to take a one-year sabbatical to contemplate my future goals, redirect my efforts and spend time doing some of the things that I enjoy most. When I return in September 2015, I hope to focus a significant portion of my academic efforts on Regenerative Medicine and mentoring the next generation of anesthesiologists.
Vacanti, who is stepping down on September 1, wrote that:
I am very proud of what we have accomplished as a department over the last 12 years. We have matured, expanded and reorganized to meet the demands of a changing environment. Our department now provides anesthesia services to patients on four campuses, including 850 Boylston, the BWFH and Patriot Place. We now provide non-operative anesthesia services to almost 10 times as many patients as we did in 2001. Since 2002, the number of full professors in our department has more than doubled, as have the number of departmental endowments, with external funding of our research almost tripling despite the overall decline in availability of federal research dollars. This has resulted in roughly 100 original peer reviewed scientific publications each year.
The letter does not mention the STAP retractions, and there’s no direct evidence that Vacanti’s decision came in reaction to the scandal. We emailed Vacanti for comment and will update this post if we hear back from him. Vacanti might be best known for his creation of the “ear mouse,” a lab mouse that bore human ear tissue on its hairless back.
Hat tip: Allison Stelling