Terrific journalism on a troubling topic

Gary Schwitzer is the founder and publisher of HealthNewsReview. He has covered health care news almost exclusively since 1973. Here is his online bio.  He tweets as @garyschwitzer or as @HealthNewsRevu.

Charles Piller writes in Science, “Blots On a Field? A neuroscience image sleuth finds signs of fabrication in scores of Alzheimer’s articles, threatening a reigning theory of the disease.

It is a terrific piece of journalism that raises questions about a long unproven theory about Alzheimer’s disease.  The new questions are fueled by allegations of fraud in key research.  One key quote:

“The immediate, obvious damage is wasted NIH funding and wasted thinking in the field because people are using these results as a starting point for their own experiments,” says Stanford University neuroscientist Thomas Südhof, a Nobel laureate and expert on Alzheimer’s and related conditions.

Jeremy Olson of the Star Tribune put the new allegations in the context of a “complicated legacy” at the University of Minnesota Medical School.  Excerpt:

Despite a remarkable history of life-saving inventions and surgical accomplishments, the U also has a legacy of research stars being implicated in scandals.

The late Dr. S. Charles Schulz stepped down as U psychiatry chair in 2015 amid claims by a grieving family that their son, who died by suicide, was coercively recruited into a schizophrenia drug trial.

Duplicated images and errors forced the correction of a 2002 Nature study, led by Dr. Catherine Verfaillie, claiming that certain adult stem cells possessed flexible abilities to grow and develop other cell types.

The late Dr. John Najarian was a pioneer in organ transplantation who elevated the U’s global profile, but he faced federal sanctions in the 1990s related to illicit sales of an experimental anti-rejection medication that improved transplant outcomes.

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