Ethical perspectives and ramifications of the Paolo Macchiarini case

Jaime A Teixeira da Silva

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2017.048


Abstract

The Paolo Macchiarini case has several ethical ramifications. Professor Macchiarini, formerly of the Karolinska Institutet (KI), became famous for the tracheal surgeries he conducted between 2008 and 2014. His rapid rise to fame was followed by an almost equally rapid fall from grace as official reports, articles in newspapers and television programmes revealed several aspects related to misconduct in his curriculum vitae, professional practices and publishing-related activity. Formal misconduct reports issued by four KI co-workers in late 2014, then again in 2016, coupled with social scandals, including the tricking of a famous US television newscaster into a false marriage, a previous arrest in Italy for apparent bribery, and acute narcissism, all tainted Macchiarini’s legend. In the short space of just two years, Macchiarini was no longer remembered for the revolutionary changes he had claimed to have brought about in stem cell research and regenerative medicine. Instead, at least seven dead patients later, Macchiarini faces potential aggravated manslaughter charges and an uphill battle to save his published research, now shrouded in scandal and scientific doubt, from being retracted and scratched out from the list of verified medical science. This paper examines some of the possible ethical ramifications of the Macchiarini case.

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