CUNY Halts Investigation of Alzheimer’s Researcher

The City University of New York is pausing its investigation into a faculty member, an Alzheimer’s researcher accused of misconduct, the university said in a statement on Friday.

Studies by the neuroscientist, Hoau-Yan Wang, underpin an Alzheimer’s drug in advanced clinical trials. The drug, simufilam, is made by Cassava Sciences, a pharmaceutical company based in Texas. Dr. Wang frequently collaborated with Lindsay H. Burns, the company’s chief scientist.

“Because questions regarding the confidentiality and integrity of this investigation have been raised, CUNY will stay the underlying inquiry into the allegations regarding Dr. Wang’s research until such time as the University completes a comprehensive investigation of the process,” the university said.

Dr. Wang did not respond to a request for comment.

“Since September 2021, Cassava Sciences has been waiting for a reliable and credible investigation from CUNY,” Remi Barbier, Cassava’s founder and chief executive, said in an email. “We’re still waiting.”

From the start, some scientists were skeptical of simufilam’s purported mode of action and later of Cassava’s reports of improvements among its clinical trial participants. Following accusations in 2021 that Dr. Wang and Cassava may have manipulated data, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the National Institutes of Health began investigating the research.

A committee convened by CUNY also began an investigation into Dr. Wang’s work and his lab’s finances over two decades.

On Oct. 12, the journal Science made public a draft of the committee’s report, which concluded that Dr. Wang was “reckless” in his failure to keep or provide original data, an offense that “amounts to significant research misconduct.” (The investigators also concluded that Dr. Burns was responsible for errors in some of the papers.)

CUNY declined to comment on the document at the time but said it would formally release the report this month. Since then, critics have questioned the objectivity of the investigators and the veracity of their descriptions of Dr. Wang’s responses to the inquiry.

On Friday, the university declined to comment on these allegations beyond its official statement.

“Consistent with its policy, CUNY will not comment on the accuracy of the investigation referenced in the articles because no final action as to this investigation has been taken,” the statement said.

“CUNY is committed to ensuring that its investigative processes are held to the highest procedural and ethical standards and that the fairness of the proceedings is preserved for all parties,” the university added. “To that end, any finding regarding allegations of research misconduct must be reliable and credible.”