Nobel Prize judges dismissed for ignoring red flags about Italian surgeon’s resume

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Sept. 6 (UPI) — Two judges on the panel responsible for selecting the winners of the Nobel Medical Prize were dismissed Tuesday over controversy surrounding one of their colleagues at a Swedish medical institute.

Harriet Wallberg and Anders Hamsten will no longer serve on the panel, officials said. The decision to drop them came after Sweden’s government dismissed the entire board at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

The Karolinska scandal involved renowned Italian surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, who operated under the supervision of Wallberg and Hamsten. According to investigators, Macchiarini got his job at the institute with the help of an exaggerated resume.

Further damaging Macchiarini’s stature are revelations that two of his patients died recently under his care.

Wallberg and Hamsten were dismissed for ignoring warnings of misconduct and errors on Macchiarini’s work history.

The scientist specialized in stem cell research and windpipe transplants at the Karolinska Institute.

Sten Heckscher, former president and justice of the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden, was highly critical of the institute in an investigative report issued Tuesday.

“They ignored statements made in connection with Macchiarini’s recruitment, and there was a stunning lack of interest in learning more about his work before extending his contract,” he said.

“I’ve never seen such negative references,” Heckscher added. “It’s quite remarkable that the vice-chancellor didn’t have the matter probed more extensively. There is no guarantee that this would have automatically barred Macchiarini from being employed, but more careful consideration would have been given to the matter, and I doubt that he would have been hired.”

The 50-member Nobel Medicine panel is scheduled to announce the winner of its annual prize next month. Wallberg and Hamsten will not be a part of that process.

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