October 31, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Harvard spokesman: MGH withdrawing puzzling Moriguchi 2010 iPS cell patent application

Hisashi Moriguchi.

He is arguably at the center of one of the biggest science scandals of 2012.

This is the guy who lied about doing iPS cell transplants into human patients. He also lied about being affiliated with Harvard & its primary teaching hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), for many years after he left there. He claimed in two 2012 papers to have Harvard IRB approval that he did not have.

Some folks have asked me how stem cell scientists didn’t realize what this guy was up to. One answer is that like me, every single stem cell scientist I have talked to had never heard of the guy. Another factor is that journals and meetings do not verify scientist’s affiliations or IRB approvals. One might ask, why not? A reasonable answer is that to do so could be fairly onerous in terms of work load.

According to the Daily Yomiuri, part of how Moriguchi seemed to avoid getting into details on his shenanigans when talking with other scientists is because he invoked patents:

“Mr. Moriguchi told me, ‘I can’t explain parts [of my study] even to you because there are patent issues involving Harvard University,'” Mihara said.

Makoto Mihara is a scientist who Moriguchi had apparently added without permission to articles.

Several readers of this blog have pointed out their patent search results revealing a patent application that Hisashi Moriguchi and a scientist named Raymond T. Chung from MGH seem to have filed on iPS cells. A provisional patent application has the date July 8, 2010 and a full application of July 7, 2011.

The supposed Assignee (meaning the institution that owns the patent) is The General Hospital Corporation, Boston MA (aka MGH).

The “story” told in the science of this patent application seems unbelievable.

I inquired with Harvard, a spokesperson told me that MGH is withdrawing the patent application.

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