PANEL WILL FOCUS ON SCIENTIST'S NOTES
Author: By Peter G. Gosselin, Globe Staff
In late May of 1986, a Boston scientist presented colleagues with two
notebook pages full of data to answer a critic's charge that she did not have
enough evidence for a scientific paper she had published.
Now, two years later, Secret Service agents are prepared to testify that
the pages from the notebook of that scientist, Thereza Imanishi-Kari, a
pathologist at Tufts University School of Medicine, were drawn up long after
the dates now claimed for them and only days before the May 23, 1986 meeting
at which she confronted criticisms of her work.
Sources said the contested pages are among at least four that turned up in
a notebook of pages that Imanishi-Kari's lawyer has certified were prepared in
late 1984 and early 1985, rather than in 1986, and among at least several
dozen whose authenticity federal investigators question.
The conflict between the Secret Service's and the lawyer's assertions about
the pages' dates is likely to figure prominently in a congressional hearing
that starts tomorrow.
The key figures in the hearing will be Rep. John D. Dingell, the Michigan
Democrat who is chairman of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, and
Imanishi-Kari and a scientific colleague, David Baltimore, a Nobel prize
laureate from the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge.
Baltimore is also a biology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of
The session is seen by many as a test of whether American science, which is
largely supported with public dollars, can remain independent of politics and
as a measure of whether scientific misconduct, until now viewed as a
aberration, is widespread.
Imanishi-Kari could not be reached for comment last night. Her lawyer,
Bruce A. Singal, said, "As best we can tell from the information that's been
provided to us, the notations in question simply represent data which was
retained in its original form and recorded in lab notes some time later."
Over the weekend, Singal labeled the Dingell hearing a "witch hunt."
Singal's comments were echoed this week by virtually all of American
science, which has grown increasingly incensed about the Dingell hearings,
especially since news surfaced of the Secret Service involvement.
Indeed, a stream of prominent scientists rushed to defend their Boston
colleagues in newspaper opinion articles and speeches.
Robert E. Pollack, dean of Columbia College in New York, picked up on the
''witch-hunt" theme in an article in The New York Times yesterday. Baltimore
himself, who has served as chief spokesman for the six authors of the
contested paper, including Imanishi-Kari, labeled the probe a "charade."
The criticism produced a sharp retort last night from Dingell, who along
with his staff has maintained a public silence on the issue.
Dingell said committee staffers presented their findings and those of the
Secret Service to Baltimore, Imanishi-Kari, and co-author David Weaver in
private meetings last week.
"We have made every effort to be fair," Dingell said in a prepared
statement. "In the face of the subcommittee's cooperation, I find it simply
puzzling and disappointing that the co-authors refused to answer any of our
questions that might have shed light or explained these disturbing findings."
The most troubling of those findings appear to come from the Secret
Service, which was called into the congressional inquiry because of its
expertise in analyzing documents. Among its other duties, the agency, a
division of the US Treasury Department, is also responsible for investigating
Secret Service agents found evidence that raises questions about the
authenticity of several dozen pages of a 130-page lab notebook belonging to
Imanishi-Kari, according to sources. Many of their findings involved four
pages that they dated to mid-May of 1986.
Sources said that was a crucial period in the emerging controversy over the
scientific paper that Imanishi-Kari co-authored with Baltimore, Weaver, now at
the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and three others.