REP. DINGELL ASKS SCRUTINY OF MIT,
TUFTS OVER HANDLING OF FRAUD PROBE
Author: By Peter G. Gosselin, Globe Staff
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
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
"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."