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Medicine institute head sacked for harming scientists’ name

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Prague, May 31 (CTK) – Czech Academy of Science (CR AV) chairman Jiri Drahos dismissed Eva Sykova as director of the AV CR Institute of Experimental Medicine on Tuesday saying she harmed the name of the AV CR and her institute by accepting payments from patients for stem cells therapy, AV CR spokesman told CTK.

The AV CR supervises about 50 scientific and research institutes.

Drahos, in his capacity as AV CR chairman, is empowered to dismiss Sykova, but his decision still requires consent from the board of her institute, which is headed by Sykova, an independent senator elected for the Social Democrats (CSSD).

If the board did not support the dismissal and confirmed Sykova in her post, the situation would probably have to be solved by the institute’s supervisory board.

Vaclav Horejsi, director of the AV CR’s Institute of Molecular Genetics, told CTK that he will propose Sykova’s dismissal as the first deputy chairperson of the Government Council for Research, Development and Innovation (RVVI).

He said he will address the proposal to Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD), whose adviser for science he is, and also to Pavel Belobradek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) deputy prime minister for science and research who heads the RVVI.

Sykova can be dismissed from this post by the government on the proposal of Belobradek who is the RVVI chairman.

Belobradek said in a press release on Tuesday that he has decided to discuss Sykova’s participation in the RVVI.

“I will meet Professor Eva Sykova and PM Bohuslav Sobotka, and then I will acquaint the public with my decision,” Belobradek wrote.

Sykova’s expert team, which has applied stem cell therapy to patients within experimental treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in Prague’s Motol University Hospital, collected 150,000 crowns for it from the patients, though the law declares people’s participation in clinic research cost-free.

The weekly Respekt and Czech Television (CT) reported about the case recently.

According to CT, the hospital is preparing filing a lawsuit over the harming of its good name.

The Institute of Experimental Medicine denies that the patients had to pay for their participation in the stem cell therapy.

Several patients and their relatives, however, have confirmed the payments in an interview with CT.

ALS is a fatal disease that kills the patient in a few years. A positive influence of stem cell therapy on these patients has not been proved so far.

The law binds the hospital to apply stem cells to patients for free because it does so within an experimental study with unverified results.

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