Thereza Imanishi-Kari

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Thereza Imanishi-Kari is an associate professor of pathology at Tufts University. She is best known for an incident in which she was accused of fabricating scientific data.


A native of Brazil, Thereza Imanishi-Kari earned a BS degree in biology from the University of Sao Paulo near her home town of Indaiatuba, Brazil. Subsequently she studied at Kyoto University, in Kyoto, Japan, and the University of Helsinki in Finland, which awarded her a PhD in the field of immunogenetics.[1] Until 1991, she claimed to have earned a master's degree in developmental biology at the University of Kyoto in 1970, but a Boston Globe investigation showed this was false.[2]

Imanishi-Kari is best known for her role in an affair of alleged scientific misconduct.[3] In 1986, Imanishi-Kari had co-authored a scientific paper on immunology with David Baltimore. The paper, published in the scientific journal Cell, showed unexpected results on how the immune system rearranges its genes to produce antibodies against antigens it encounters for the first time (see V(D)J recombination).[4] Margot O'Toole, a researcher in Imanishi-Kari's lab, claimed she could not reproduce some of the experiments in the paper and accused Imanishi-Kari of fabricating the data. Since the research had been funded by the U.S. federal government through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the matter was taken up by the United States Congress, where it was aggressively pursued by, among others, Representative John Dingell. Largely on the basis of these findings, NIH's fraud unit, then called the Office of Scientific Integrity, accused Dr. Imanishi-Kari in 1991 of falsifying data and recommended she be barred from receiving research grants for 10 years. In 1996, a newly constituted U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) appeals panel reviewed the case again and dismissed all charges against Imanishi-Kari.[5] She continues as a scientist and publishes successfully. The Baltimore Case (1998), by Daniel Kevles, the Stanley Woodward Professor of History at Yale University details the case from a sympathetic view of Dr. Imanishi-Kari.[6] The mathematician Serge Lang presented a different view in an article published in the journal Ethics and Behavior in January 1993.[7][8] Science historian Horace Freeland Judson also uses the Baltimore affair as a case study in The Great Betrayal: Fraud In Science.[9]



  1. ^ "Thereza Imanishi-Kari". Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, Tufts University. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Beardsley T (1996). "Profile: Thereza Imanishi-Kari – Starting With a Clean Slate". Scientific American 275 (5): 50–52. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1196-50. 
  4. ^ Weaver D, Reis MH, Albanese C, Costantini F, Baltimore D, Imanishi-Kari T (April 1986). "Altered repertoire of endogenous immunoglobulin gene expression in transgenic mice containing a rearranged mu heavy chain gene". Cell 45 (2): 247–59. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(86)90389-2. PMID 3084104.  (Retracted)
  5. ^ "Thereza Imanishi-Kari, Ph.D., DAB No. 1582 (1996)". United States Department of Health and Human Services. 1996-06-21. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  6. ^ "Research Guides, Scientific Research Ethics, Case Studies". Illinois Insteitute of Technology, Paul V. Galvin Library. 2012-05-31. Retrieved 2012-07-11. 
  7. ^ Lang, Serge. "Questions of Scientific Responsibility: The Baltimore Case". Gateway Engineering Education Coalition. Retrieved 2012-07-11. 
  8. ^ Lang S (January 1993). "Questions of scientific responsibility: the Baltimore case". Ethics & Behavior 3 (1): 3–72. doi:10.1207/s15327019eb0301_1. PMID 11653082. 
  9. ^ Judson, Horace F. (2004). The Great Betrayal: Fraud in Science. New York: Harcourt. ISBN 978-0151008773. 

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