Published online 27 August 2008 | Nature 454, 1041 (2008) | doi:10.1038/4541041a

News in Brief

Rector sacked in Austrian stem-cell scandal

A fierce academic dispute in Austria reached fresh heights on 21 August when the Medical University of Innsbruck's council dismissed the rector, German immunologist Clemens Sorg, without notice.

In a letter to friends and colleagues in Austria and Germany that was later leaked to the press, Sorg had criticized Austria's academic establishment for its laxness in a case of scientific misconduct at the university's urology department.

Earlier in August, a report by the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety found that a clinical trial involving stem cells, run by urologist Hannes Strasser at the university, had serious flaws (see Nature 454, 922–923; 2008). Last week the agency announced that it will hand the report over to public prosecutors.

But the seven-strong university council says that Sorg's "public attacks" against his host country were "unjustified". It accuses Sorg of a "serious breach of duties", including violating official secrecy. In a copy of his letter that appeared in the Austrian daily Tiroler Tageszeitung, Sorg writes that Austria's highest "networks" were attempting hush up what he calls a "medical scandal of unprecedented scale". Sorg says that he intends to sue the Medical University of Innsbruck. 

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