Nancy Olivieri and Chelsea Polis win 2023 Maddox prizes for standing up for their research
A researcher who was threatened with lawsuits and professional ruin for pushing to reveal clinical trial data has been awarded the 2023 John Maddox Prize for standing up for science.
It would be very hard to overstate the importance of the voluntary work being done by scientific sleuths. They are spotting manipulated and copied images, they are detecting outputs that have been purchased from paper mills and they helped detect otherwise dodgy research outputs. They do so without recompense, recognition or reward. They also do so in the face of legal action and the ire of trolls and the mob. We should all be grateful for their work and the contributions they are making to the integrity of the scientific record.
The annual prize is run by the UK-based Sense About Science charity and the journal Nature, and is named after one of the publication’s former editors.
The judges cited Olivieri’s work on clinical trials for the drug deferiprone and controversies over the publication of data from them. This led to her being fired from a role at a hospital in Toronto and facing lawsuits from a drug company.
Now based at Toronto General Hospital and the University of Toronto in Canada, Olivieri said: “We should create a situation in science where whistleblowers are not necessary—universities should not look away when research misconduct happens.”
This year’s Maddox prize for an early career researcher went to Chelsea Polis (pictured right) of the Center for Biomedical Research at the Population Council in the United States.