Catherine Verfaillie's response

The University indeed concluded that another individual working in my lab committed academic misconduct by improperly manipulating western blots in the Blood paper.

Although the University Panel did not conclude that the conclusions of the paper are invalid, it has requested that the Blood paper be retracted.

The University concluded that allegations against me personally were not substantiated, and that I was not responsible for the alleged manipulations.

Nevertheless, I am extremely sorry about this, as I was the senior author on the paper and did not notice the problems with these figures.

The University's statement also concluded that I did not provide sufficient oversight and mentoring. I do not agree with the University's conclusion with regard to the question of oversight and mentoring.

I am committed to honesty in the pursuit of science. The methods that were followed in my lab at the time of the research in question were, and still are, common practice in the scientific community.

In fact, the University's panel described in their report that my conduct did not fall outside the norm of laboratory practices by a principal investigator. Like all principal investigators, I rely on the honesty and integrity of those working in the lab.

Nevertheless, I want to make it clear that I take the ultimate responsibility for the work performed in my lab. I am extremely sorry about the errors that occurred in this publication, as I was the senior author and did not notice the problem with the figures in question.

I have contacted Blood with the request to retract the paper, which is the proper course in this situation.

As a result of the problems that came to light now almost two years ago, I have initiated a number of additional oversight measures designed to further enhance the integrity of research and scientific publications coming from my lab.

These include a requirement that any and all manuscripts to be submitted for publication are re-examined by me and one or two other senior investigators in the lab, who were not at all involved in the science, to compare all data to be published with the source files. I am confident that these measures will avoid the recurrence of a similar problem in the future.

I continue to stand behind the conclusions of the Blood paper. We and others have substantiated all of its key findings in other manuscripts (J Clin invest 2002, 2006, 2008, Blood 2007, Exp Hematol 2003), specifically demonstrating that human MAPC can differentiate to osteoblasts, chondroblasts, muscle and endothelium.

In addition, we and others have made significant progress in other areas related to MAPC, and many other laboratories have described similar cells, albeit using different acronyms in many cases.

Finally, the MAPC technology has been licensed to a biotechnology company. They have established large scale production methods for generating MAPC and are in clinical trials.

As it relates to your question whether others have confirmed the results, please find attached a sprinkling of paper on MAPC, by my lab, labs of others with me, other labs without our input, and labs that have isolated cells with similar or identical characteristics but given a different name/acronym.

Sincerely, Catherine

Professor of Medicine, Stem Cell Institute, Catholic University, Belgium

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