Nobel Assembly seeks resignation of two members over scandal: agency

September 6, 2016 9:39 AM EDT

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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The assembly that awards the Nobel Prize for medicine will demand the resignation of two of its judges as a result of a scandal around a surgeon accused of scientific negligence, local news agency TT said on Tuesday.

Anders Hamsten had previously resigned from Sweden's Karolinska Institutet over the employment of stem-cell surgeon Paulo Macchiarini. Harriet Wallberg, who headed the university when Macchiarini was hired, was fired from her current job as head of the Swedish Higher Education Authority on Monday.

Macchiarini, who denies any wrongdoing, faces numerous accusations of scientific fraud and misconduct resulting in the death of two patients. Swedish prosecutors are investigating Macchiarini on suspicion of gross criminal negligence.

TT quoted Assembly secretary Thomas Perlmann as saying he would ask them to resign from the 50-member body, which will next award the prize for medicine in October. The Assembly had no further comment to make.

Macchiarini was employed as a researcher into stem cell biology at the Karolinska Institutet and consultant at Karolinska University Hospital in 2010.

Macchiarini was fired in March when the institute said he had supplied false information on his resume and was guilty of scientific negligence after two of his patients died.

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.

(Reporting by Daniel Dickson; editing by Ralph Boulton)

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