NOBELIST'S CO-AUTHOR EXPECTS US CHARGE
Author: By Peter G. Gosselin, Globe Staff
WASHINGTON -- A Boston scientist expects to be accused by the Secret
Service and a congressional subcommittee of lying about research data in
connection with a paper she co-authored with Nobel Prize winner Dr. David
Dr. Thereza Imanishi-Kari, a pathologist at the Tufts University School of
Medicine, acknowledged as much during an unusual press conference here
yesterday at which she and her lawyer labeled such an accusation as false and
slanderous. "I don't think they had anything else in mind," she said when
asked whether she expects Secret Service agents to accuse her of lying.
Imanishi-Kari said that she will refuse to appear before the House
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations when it meets Monday to consider
the Secret Service findings, which she released. Her lawyer, Bruce A. Singal
of Boston, said she also is refusing to talk to an investigating panel at the
National Institutes of Health unless it provides her with information about
allegations against her.
The new charges are the latest developments in a struggle between
Baltimore, the powerhouse professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology who will shortly become president of Rockefeller University in
New York, and John D. Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who heads the House
subcommittee and has made his name as the Congress's most prominent
investigator of everything from defense fraud to financial wrongdoing.
The two men have been at odds for more than two years over an important but
highly specialized paper on genetic control of the immune system published in
the journal Cell in 1986. For Dingell, who charges that the paper is replete
with errors and misrepresentations, the fight has become a test of how
extensive is misconduct in science. For Baltimore and much of the scientific
community, it has become a battle over freedom from political control.
In a statement issued yesterday, Baltimore, who was not at the press
conference, defended Imanishi-Kari and blasted both the Secret Service
findings and the congressional probe. "It is apparent that after years of
investigation, a reasonable person must conclude that the Cell paper was an
honest report of collaborative research," said the Nobel laureate, who is
about the step down as director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical
Research to assume the Rockefeller University presidency.
Secret Service agents said last year that several pages of Imanishi-Kari's
notebooks containing data from experiments related to the Cell paper were
produced after the dates listed on them. According to the Secret Service
report released by Imanishi-Kari yesterday, the agents are now prepared to say
that computer printouts of the data attached to notebook pages were not
produced on the dates under which they appear.
The congressional panel is expected to argue that the new findings prove
Imanishi-Kari doctored or falsified the data.
Both Imanishi-Kari and Singal lambasted the Secret Service work, saying it
showed nothing. Singal said the two-page report of the Secret Service
findings, provided to him by the subcommittee Monday, is "so devoid of support
or documentation for its vague and unfocused conclusions that it is a
virtually useless document."
In testimony last year, Imanishi-Kari said the difference between the dates
appearing on her notebook pages and those assigned to the pages by the Secret
Service was the result of sloppiness and the hectic pace of research. She said
she often was too busy to log all of the data in her notebooks as she did
experiments. So she would go back later, find the computer tapes containing
the data and write up the experiments.
She acknowledged she sometimes misdated the writeups. "I am very bad with
dates," she told the congressional panel last year.
She took a similar tack yesterday, saying that although she pasted
computer tapes of data into her notebooks under certain dates, she had never
asserted that those were the dates on which the experiments that produced the
tapes were done. She indicated she had no way of knowing when the experiments
were done, having clipped off margin notes that would have helped fix the
But she asserted that the lack of information is unimportant because
''dates are irrelevant" for the kind of experiments she was doing and
because none of the data being challenged by the Secret Service appeared in
the Cell paper. Asked whether she had faked any of the data, she answered with
an emphatic "No!"
The subcommittee is expected to argue that some of the challenged data was
in the Cell paper.