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Study by Harvard-Affiliated Heart Researcher Retracted from Scientific Journal

Harvard Medical School Investigation of the Study Ongoing

By Matthew Q. Clarida, Crimson Staff Writer

Recent research by Piero Anversa, a Harvard-affiliated professor and leading figure in cardiovascular science, has come under fire after an article he co-authored was retracted from a major medical journal.

Anversa's recent work, the subject of an ongoing investigation by Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, concerns the regenerative potential of stem cells in the cardiovascular system. That work has resulted in two notable papers, one published in 2012 by the journal Circulation and another published in 2011 by the journal The Lancet.

In late March, the Medical School notified The Lancet that it was investigating the “integrity of certain data generated in a laboratory at BWH and included in [Anversa’s] paper.” On April 12, editors at The Lancet posted an “expression of concern” regarding the paper on the journal’s website.

Earlier this month, the American Heart Association retracted Anversa’s 2012 article from Circulation, also citing a Harvard investigation into the article’s central research.

While Anversa was not the only contributor to either paper, much of the foundational research took place under his watch at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Generally regarded as a leader in his field, Anversa has received almost $60 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health since 2000.

“I continue to believe that the data show improved heart performance in most patients who participated in the study,” Anversa wrote in an email to the Boston Globe last week.

Roberto Bolli, a researcher at the University of Louisville and a named author of the 2011 paper in The Lancet, told the Globe that the questions raised to date do not concern his own research.

“I am of course as anxious as anyone else to see the results of the ongoing investigation by the BWH,” Bolli wrote in an email to the Globe. “The data in question were generated by Dr. Anversa’s lab independently of us in Louisville; we in Louisville have nothing to do with the issues cited in the Expression of Concern.”

On their website last week, editors of The Lancet said that they believed that the Medical School had indicated that investigation into Anversa’s research will take a number of months.

—Staff writer Matthew Q. Clarida can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @mattclarida.

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