When I read The Emperor’s New Clothes as a kid, I did not take it seriously. Funny though, I did not think it would ever happen for that was just the adults’ wild imagination to fool the kids around. Grown up, I realised this can truly happen in the adults’ world. Jaw dropping, smart and decent people are usually involved.
Dr Anversa was director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine, Harvard. He practically invented the field of cardiac stem cell therapy when he first reported that cardiac cells were capable of regeneration. Throughout his career, Anversa has received several commendations, including a research achievement award from the American Heart Association, which in 2004 also named him a “distinguished scientist.” When various research teams tried to reproduce the results, however, they failed. Sarcastically, they were laughed at for not being skillful enough. What a vivid replay of the Emperor’s New Clothes! By the way, the Chinese researchers had contributed roughly 1000 cardiac stem cell papers during that decade, making the parade phenomenal. We are familiar with what happened next. The house of cards collapsed, Anversa left Harvard Medical School and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2015 after several papers were flagged and retracted. 2017, the hospital agreed to a $10 million settlement with the U.S. government over allegations Anversa’s work had been used to fraudulently obtain federal funding. More than a dozen of these papers have since been yanked by various journals, including the Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, Circulation, and Circulation Research…
Dr Thomas was also a distinguished Harvard professor and a previous president of the American Society of Echocardiography. In 1992, he invented a formula based on four bold assumptions to calculate Tau in an Echo lab and “validated” it both experimentally and clinically. The fact is his theory has logic flaws and it is common sense that a flawed theory cannot be verified without manipulation of data. Anyway, the parade of the Emperor’s New Clothes had started ever since. It’s just discouraging when you see papers based on Thomas’ formula keep popping up. Thank God, people seemed a little bit reasonable this time. Playing with Google Scholar, we found in the whole year just passed, nobody had used this formula to measure Tau all over the world, even Tau is the best index to describe diastolic function and the latter is such a hot topic. We sincerely wish Dr Thomas’ Tau formula can rest in peace, but we failed.
We know Tau formulas exist in nature waiting to be discovered, no need to be invented by bold assumptions. To my knowledge, several research groups are working on those discoveries and relevant staffs, however, publication of this promising endeavour was constantly challenged by Dr Thomas’ Tau which is from distinguished professors, validated in famous institutions and published in influential journals.
Dr Anversa opened a wrong door, fortunately, his cardiac stem cell parade had come to an end. Dr Thomas closed a right door by showing people the wrong way. His Tau parade is not as popular as before, unfortunately, is still on and influential. To upholding the highest ethical standards and to rigorously maintaining the integrity of research, we are calling the retraction of Dr Thomas’ Tau papers. This will set Tau free.