American Heart Association retracts, denounces anti-affirmative action article after heavy backlash

The American Heart Association (AHA) has retracted a research article first published in May after its views on affirmative action and diversity received a significant amount of criticism. One of the article’s biggest critics, it seems, was the author’s own institution.

The article was written by Norman C. Wang, MD, MS, of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Wang wrote at length about affirmative action, detailing why he believed such policies have led to unqualified individuals being admitted to medical schools and cardiovascular training programs.

Many critics have called out Wang’s article for being “racist.” In the statement announcing its retraction, the AHA said it received word from UPMC officials that the article “contains many misconceptions and misquotes and that together those inaccuracies, misstatements and selective misreading of source materials strip the paper of its scientific validity.”

According to the statement, the Journal of the American Heart Association’s editor-in-chief “deeply regrets” publishing the article.

The AHA also released a longer statement about the situation, calling for “more—not less—to be done to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in science, medicine and cardiology.”

“The Wang paper has rightfully drawn criticism for its misrepresentations and conclusions,” according to the newer statement. “As an organization focused on the relentless pursuit of longer, healthier lives for everyone everywhere, the AHA denounces the views expressed in the article and regrets its role in enabling those views to be promoted. Those views are a misrepresentation of the facts and are contrary to our organization’s core values and historic commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion in medicine and science.”

The AHA “remains committed to equity, diversity and inclusion as foundationally essential to its mission,” the organization added, and “takes the concerns about the Wang paper seriously.”

The entire publication process is now being reviewed by both the AHA and the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The original text

The original 15-page article is still available on the AHA website. Wang concluded his analysis by saying “racial and ethnic preferences for undergraduate and medical admissions should be gradually rolled back with a target end year of 2028.”

“Evolution to strategies that are neutral to race and ethnicity is essential,” Wang wrote. “Ultimately, all who aspire to a profession in medicine and cardiology must be assessed as individuals on the basis of their personal merits, not their racial and ethnic identities.”

Wang does not agree with the decision to retract his research article.