REP. DINGELL ASKS SCRUTINY OF MIT,
TUFTS OVER HANDLING OF FRAUD PROBE

Author: By Peter G. Gosselin, Globe Staff

Date: 03/22/1991 Page: 12
Section: NATIONAL/FOREIGN

WASHINGTON -- In a move that will probably add fuel to an already
raging controversy, a powerful House member called on the National Institutes of Health yesterday to probe whether two Boston-area universities failed to properly investigate allegations of scientific fraud at their institutions.

Meanwhile, the president of one of the schools, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, called on faculty members yesterday to help him develop a program to teach the scientific values of "truth" and "ethical rigor." And a prestigious scientific journal said it would retract a research paper after federal investigators concluded that it was partly based on data fabricated by a former MIT immunologist who cowrote the paper with David Baltimore, a Nobel laureate.

US Rep. John D. Dingell, chairman of the House oversight and investigations subcommittee, called on the National Institutes of Health to investigate how MIT and Tufts University handled allegations about the 1986 research paper, which was coauthored by Baltimore and others.

Dingell's comments followed the disclosure that an NIH team has concluded that substantial portions of research conducted for the paper by Dr. Thereza Imanishi-Kari, who is now at Tufts, was fabricated. Although the team did not accuse Baltimore of fraud, it was sharply critical of him for dismissing allegations about the paper and hindering the investigation of them.

Dingell's subcommittee has conducted an investigation into the case, and the Michigan Democrat has been sharply critical of the schools' handling of the matter.

"I trust that NIH will look at the way that the various institutions and individuals responded -- or failed to respond -- to some very serious allegations and evidence of misconduct," Dingell said in a statement.

Baltimore is president of Rockefeller University in New York. At the time the paper was written, he was director of the Whitehead Institute of Biomedical Research at MIT.

In the wake of the disclosure, Baltimore reversed his five-year defense of the paper and asked for its retraction until questions about it can be answered. Ryan Miake-Lye, editor of the the scientific journal Cell, in which the paper was published, said yesterday that a retraction will be printed. She declined further comment.

In his letter to MIT faculty and researchers, the university's president, Charles M. Vest, called for development of a program "to provide career guidance and mentoring" and to communicate the values of science, which ''demand the pursuit of truth with integrity and ethical rigor."

Last modified: Wed Sep 20 20:15:41 EDT 2000