Ex-Catalyst reporter faces fresh scrutiny over rheumatology research

Question marks are hanging over the credibility of published rheumatology research by the medical-scientist-turned-journalist Maryanne Demasi.

The Journal of Biological Chemistry has added an “expression of concern” to a 2003 paper co-authored by Dr Demasi (PhD), which stems from Dr Demasi’s PhD thesis in rheumatology from Royal Adelaide Hospital, according to the US-based blog Retraction Watch.

The journal’s publisher said “credible concerns” had been raised over some of the data and conclusions in the paper Dissociation between changes in cyclooxygenase-2 expression and eicosanoid synthesis, and it will provide additional information as it becomes available.

Responding to the move, Dr Demasi told The Australian she and her four co-authors had been “made aware” of the notification and “all allegations will be vigorously defended”.

“We are confident of complete vindication in relation to this matter which we view as vexatious and misconceived,” Dr Demasi said in a statement to the newspaper. “There is a confidential process for adjudication that needs to be respected. Therefore, I shall not comment further on this matter.”

Last year the ABC suspended the former Catalyst reporter from on-air duties over a story which linked wi-fi and brain tumours.

A review by the national broadcaster found the story breached its editorial standards for accuracy and impartiality, by “favouring  the unorthodox perspective that wireless devices and wi-fi pose significant health risks”.

Another story by Dr Demasi about statins and heart disease also breached these guidelines, the ABC found.

The two-part series aired in October 2013 and research published in the MJA found that in the following eight months over 500,000 fewer statins were dispensed, estimated to impact over 60,000 people.

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