Whistleblower removed from Macchiarini’s Lancet author list

Paolo Macchiarini
Paolo Macchiarini

Last week, The Lancet honored a co-author’s request to remove his name from Paolo Macchiarini’s seminal 2011 paper, which described the first transplant of an artificial trachea seeded with autologous stem cells but has since come under fire.

On March 3, the journal posted this notice:

The Lancet has been contacted by Dr KH Grinnemo who was an author on the paper. Dr Grinnemo no longer wishes to be an author and asks for his name to be removed. This correction has been made to the online version as of March 3, 2016.

The paper has been cited 187 times, designating it “highly cited” by Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

As The Scientist reports, Karl-Henrik Grinnemo is one of the four surgeons at Karolinska Hospital who filed a complaint against Macchiarini in 2014 — alleging, for instance, he had downplayed the risks of the procedure and not obtained proper consent.

Although the Karolinska Institutet initially determined Macchiarini had acted in some cases “without due care,” but that his behavior “does not qualify as scientific misconduct,” the case has since been reopened following a series of new allegations raised by a series of documentaries aired by Swedish Television. KI has since not renewed Macchiarini’s contract, and may be dismissed. Meanwhile, KI’s vice-chancellor and the dean of research have resigned, along with the secretary general of the Nobel Assembly.

Need to catch up on this story? Here’s a timeline of recent events.

Hat tip: Elizabeth Woeckner

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8 thoughts on “Whistleblower removed from Macchiarini’s Lancet author list”

    1. Doubts grew when the patient returned from Iceland to Karolinska in poor shape. According to part 2 of the documentary series, then it became clear that the article in Lancet did not agree with the hospital records.

  1. Dr Grinnemo no longer wishes to be an author

    “I would like to unwrite the particular words I contributed”.

  2. As stated (“the author asked”), that’s a request that should not have been granted. There might be some circumstances where it would be appropriate, but more information would have to be given. (Maybe something like “Dr. X reviewed histopathology findings and consulted on cases but now believes that the samples he analyzed were not collected as originally stated.” Or whatever else is appropriate.) Possibly the details are in the whistleblower complaint but the journal really should do more since the notice should be self-contained.

  3. Given the controversy surrounding Macchiarini’s work, I can understand this individual’s wish to be removed as co-author of the Lancet paper. But, I have to wonder whether some authors of other controversial papers (e.g., those for which an expression of concern has been published) will now start to make similar requests of journals. What guidance is there for removing an author post-publication? And how should those papers be cited in a reference section? Should they not include the removed author? Frankly, I have to agree with StrongDreams’ position in this matter.

  4. Agree with Miguel. If you’re a team member, you stick with he team. Either all authors pull out and retract the paper, or all take responsibility as a team. This opens up a seriously negative precedent.

  5. Baiguera S, Del Gaudio C, Jaus MO, Polizzi L, Gonfiotti A, Comin CE, Bianco A, Ribatti D, Taylor DA, Macchiarini P (2012) Long-term changes to in vitro preserved bioengineered human trachea and their implications for decellularized tissues. Biomaterials 33(14):3662-3672 (Elsevier).
    doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2012.01.064

    Lim ML, Jungebluth P, Ajalloueian F, Friedrich LH, Gilevich I, Grinnemo KH, Gubareva E, Haag JC, Lemon G, Sjöqvist S, Caplan AL, Macchiarini P (2013) Whole organ and tissue reconstruction in thoracic regenerative surgery. Mayo Clinic Proceedings 88(10):1151-1166 (Elsevier).
    doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2013.03.011

    Baiguera et al. 2012 Fig. 1B vs Lim et al. 2013 Fig. 2C

    I am curious what Dr. Grinnemo will do.

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