STOCKHOLM – The assembly that awards the Nobel Prize for medicine is dismissing two judges for their alleged roles in a scandal over a disgraced stem cell scientist at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute.
The decision to sack Harriet Wallberg and Anders Hamsten comes after the Swedish government sacked the entire board of the prestigious Karolinska Institute, where the scientist worked.
Nobel Assembly secretary Thomas Perlmann told Swedish news agency TT on Tuesday that Harriet Wallberg and Anders Hamsten would be asked to leave the 50-member group, which will announce the annual award next month.
The two judges who lost their positions on the Nobel panel have both served as heads of the Karolinska Institute, and were among several individuals suspected of ignoring warnings about the Italian windpipe scientist. The 50-member Nobel panel is due to announce the winner of the annual prize next month.
“Scandal is the right word,” higher education minister Helene Hellmark Knutsson said on Monday.
“People have been harmed because of the actions of the Karolinska Institute and also the Karolinska University Hospital.”
An investigation last week showed three operations conducted at the Karolinska University Hospital in which Macchiarini transplanted synthetic tracheas coated with stem cells were performed before sufficient study had been done on the procedure and that the operations could not be justified on the grounds of being life-saving.
Two of the patients have since died while the third remains in hospital.
Karolinska Institutet’s Nobel Assembly consists of 50 professors and decides who is to receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Much of the work is done by the Nobel Committee which is appointed by the Assembly.