Stem cell researchers investigated for misconduct recommended for roles at Italy’s NIH

Piero Anversa

Two stem cell scientists who left Harvard University in the aftermath of a messy misconduct investigation may have found new roles in Italy’s National Institute of Health.

According to a document on the institute’s website, which we had translated, Piero Anversa and Annarosa Leri have been approved to start work at the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) by the institute’s board of directors. However, the president of the organization told us that the hirings are not yet final.

The document says the board unanimously recommended the appointments of Anversa and Leri on January 31 as winning candidates with “a rating of ‘excellent.’”

According to the document, Anversa would be an ISS expert in stem cell-based treatments for diabetes and Leri would be an expert in stem-based therapies for cardiovascular disease.

However, ISS president Gualtiero Ricciardi told Retraction Watch:

Drs Anversa and Leri have participated in a public call for scientific collaboration that is still ongoing. No final decision has been taken so far.

Ricciardi did not respond to questions about what the roles are and when the decision will be final.

Anversa and Leri’s past includes a misconduct investigation and a lawsuit. In 2014, the duo’s then-employers Harvard and Brigham & Women’s Hospital investigated their work. The scientists have one retraction and eight corrections.

In 2014, the researchers sued Harvard and Brigham & Women’s Hospital, claiming that disclosing the investigation damaged their reputations. The two scientists lost that case. Last year, the hospital and its parent healthcare network paid $10 million to the U.S. government to resolve the allegations that Anversa, Leri and a third colleague, Jan Kajstura:

knew or should have known that their laboratory promulgated and relied upon manipulated and falsified information

After leaving Brigham & Women’s Hospital for Switzerland in 2015, Anversa and Leri worked at Cardiocentro Ticino of the Swiss Institute for Regenerative Medicine, an institute associated with the University of Zurich. We emailed Anversa and Leri at their Cardiocentro Ticino accounts but received a response that the email address is no longer active. We also contacted Leri at a personal account but did not hear back.

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