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The chief executive of Athira Pharma, a biotech developing treatments for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, has been placed on temporary leave as her former university investigates claims she published several papers containing altered images while she was a graduate student.

The Seattle-based company did not disclose the reasons for the investigation of Leen Kawas, but STAT has learned that it involves allegations of altered images in four separate papers on which Kawas is the lead author. Images of Western blots, used to determine the presence of specific proteins in biological samples, look as though they’ve been altered from their original state, according to two image experts who spoke with STAT.

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