Official Quits Nobel Panel
Official Quits Nobel Panel: A top official on the committee that awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has resigned because he expects to be caught up in an investigation of a regenerative medicine researcher who was dismissed from Sweden’s leading medical institute. The official, Urban Lendahl, a genetics professor at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, resigned Saturday as secretary general of the Nobel Assembly at the institute. Dr. Lendahl was among a group of Karolinska professors who in 2010 recommended the hiring of Paolo Macchiarini, a surgeon who performs experimental transplants involving plastic windpipes embedded with a patient’s own stem cells.
Dr. Lendahl “resigns effective immediately and at his own request,” the chairman of the 50-person assembly, Rune Toftgard, said in a statement, adding that Dr. Lendahl “anticipates that he may be involved” in the investigation of Dr. Macchiarini. Dr. Lendahl also resigned from the Nobel Committee, a working group within the assembly. Thomas Perlmann, the chairman of the Nobel Committee at Karolinska, said in an email that the recruitment of Dr. Macchiarini would be part of the new investigation. In response to an email request, Dr. Macchiarini declined to comment. Although they consist entirely of Karolinska professors, the Nobel Assembly and committee operate independently of the institute. Nonetheless, Lars Heikensten, the executive director of the Nobel Foundation, which administers the prizes, said in a statement, “Mistakes have been made in the handling of the Macchiarini case which have harmed the reputation of both the Karolinska Institute and the Karolinska University Hospital.”
He continued: “Even though the Nobel Assembly is independent of the Karolinska Institute, the case may affect the way the Nobel Prize is perceived. Every aspect relevant to the Macchiarini case now needs to be rapidly and resolutely investigated.”