UPitt hires law firm to review its fetal tissue research

The move follows calls for an investigation into experimental research that reportedly used harvested organs, and allegation the university has denied.

The law firm Hyman, Phelps & McNamara is conducting the review.

The University of Pittsburgh has hired an external law firm to conduct a review of its federally-funded fetal tissue research.

Campus Reform previously reported on an immunology experiment conducted at the university where researchers grafted aborted babies’ scalps onto lab mice. The experiment came under fire during a Pennsylvania House Health Committee hearing in May.

Over the past few weeks, multiple lawmakers have also called for an investigation into UPitt’s research practices following a report released by Judicial Watch in August, which revealed that it may have harvested organs from live fetuses.

[RELATED: U Pitt grafts aborted babies’ scalps to rodents in disgusting experiment]

“It is obvious the University of Pittsburgh is feeling pressure from lawmakers and members of the general public about its highly controversial research practices involving the body parts of aborted babies,” Maria Gallagher, legislative director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, an affiliate of National Right to Life, told Campus Reform.

Gallagher says Pennsylvania taxpayers “deserve more than a review by a law firm,” adding that legislation calling for a thorough investigation is being introduced to the Pennsylvania State Senate.

“Serious allegations of violations of state and federal law have surfaced. For instance, have university researchers used body parts from babies whose hearts are still beating?” Gallagher said. “The fact that human scalps are being grafted onto laboratory mice is abhorrent. The allegations against the university read like something out of a script for a horror movie.”

[RELATED: Campus pro-life group is 'danger to the student body,' according to editorial board]

UPitt continues to deny any wrongdoing, explaining in a September 9th statement that the university “routinely conducts reviews to ensure that its research activities—across all areas of research—comply with internal policies as well as all relevant federal and state laws.”

The university said in a statement that they are taking this "proactive step to ensure that it is positioned to continue leading the way—scientifically, legally and ethically—in practicing and advancing lifesaving research."

Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, the law firm hired to conduct the review, will present its findings to university senior leadership when it is finished.

Campus Reform reached out to the University of Pittsburgh for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter @katesrichardson