Thereza Imanishi-Kari

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Thereza Imanishi-Kari is an associate professor of pathology at Tufts University. Before gaining this position, a 1986 paper she co-authored with David Baltimore was the subject of scientific fraud allegations, leading to a series of investigations, the last of which in 1996 fully exonerated her.


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]

In 1986, Imanishi-Kari 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).[2] 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.[3] In her resume sent to the NIH she said she had earned a master's degree in developmental biology at the University of Kyoto in 1970. A 1991 investigation by The Boston Globe was told by the university that it did not have any record of this degree being awarded to her, but on request it provided a letter stating that her residence for two years there was "equivalent in quality" to a master's course.[4] The mathematician Serge Lang discussed the case in an article published in the journal Ethics and Behavior in January 1993.[5][6]

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.[3] In August 1996 she gained an official position as an assistant professor in the pathology department of the Tufts University School of Medicine. There was widespread criticism of the government's system for dealing with allegations of misconduct, and calls for review of the oversight procedures dealing with the integrity of biomedical research.[7] The case of alleged scientific misconduct and her exoneration was reported in Scientific American.[8]

The Baltimore Case (1998), by Daniel Kevles, the Stanley Woodward Professor of History at Yale University details the case from a viewpoint sympathetic to Dr. Imanishi-Kari. It reported that she continues as a scientist and publishes successfully.[9] Science historian Horace Freeland Judson also used the Baltimore affair as a case study in The Great Betrayal: Fraud In Science.[10]



  1. ^ "Thereza Imanishi-Kari". Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, Tufts University. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ a b "Thereza Imanishi-Kari, Ph.D., DAB No. 1582 (1996)". United States Department of Health and Human Services. 1996-06-21. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  4. ^ David Baltimore Case - Boston Globe Online, 5 June 1991
  5. ^ Lang, Serge. "Questions of Scientific Responsibility: The Baltimore Case". Gateway Engineering Education Coalition. Retrieved 2012-07-11. 
  6. ^ Lang S (January 1993). "Questions of scientific responsibility: the Baltimore case". Ethics & Behavior 3 (1): 3–72. doi:10.1207/s15327019eb0301_1. PMID 11653082. 
  7. ^ Billy Goodman (19 August 1996). "Multiple Investigations". The Scientist Magazine. Retrieved 2015-01-02. 
  8. ^ Beardsley T (1996). "Profile: Thereza Imanishi-Kari – Starting With a Clean Slate". Scientific American 275 (5): 50–52. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1196-50. 
  9. ^ "Research Guides, Scientific Research Ethics, Case Studies". Illinois Insteitute of Technology, Paul V. Galvin Library. 2012-05-31. Retrieved 2012-07-11. 
  10. ^ Judson, Horace F. (2004). The Great Betrayal: Fraud in Science. New York: Harcourt. ISBN 978-0151008773. 

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