A California scientist has sued the organization that awards Nobel prizes in physiology and medicine, claiming that it wrongly gave this year’s award to two researchers for discoveries that he himself made a decade ago.
Rongxiang Xu filed suit in Orange County, Calif., Superior Court on December 3, alleging defamation and unfair competition against the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. Xu claims he is the scientist who made the discoveries attributed to this year’s laureates, John Gurdon of the University of Cambridge in England and Shinya Yamanaka at Kyoto University in Japan.
Those scientists received the award in October for advances in regenerative medicine, the process of rebuilding the body with tissues generated from its own cells.
Xu is a burn treatment specialist and founder of Mebo International Group, a medical research and development firm in Arcadia, Calif. His complaint alleges that the Nobel Assembly, when it bestowed this year’s prize, issued false statements that Gurdon and Yamanaka had transformed cell technology and unlocked new discoveries.
Xu’s lawsuit specifies that he is not challenging the Nobel Prize award; rather, his main interest is “rehabilitating his dominant position as the owner [and] pioneer of the scientific achievement” that the Nobel Assembly credited to Gurdon and Yamanaka. He does seek a declaration by the assembly that its statements about the two scientists were not true, plus special and general damages.
The Nobel Assembly posted a response to the lawsuit on its website, noting that it has not seen the action. “This year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine awards the fundamental discoveries that demonstrated that mature cells can be reprogrammed,” it wrote. “The Prize has been very well received and has obtained massive support by the international scientific community.”
Representing Xu is Stephen Johnson of the Ardent Law Group in Irvine, Calif. He was not immediately available for comment.
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