70 papers by Alirio Melendez under investigation: report
The National University of Singapore (NUS) is reviewing about 70 papers by Alirio Melendez, a once-promising researcher whom, as we’ve reported, has been forced to retract a paper in Nature Immunology and has another paper in Science subject to an Expression of Concern.
The Straits Times, which reported the NUS investigation this weekend, says Melendez’ former team is cooperating:
In Singapore, the eight researchers involved include scientists, academics, research fellows and students from NUS and DSO National Laboratories. DSO and the personnel involved are assisting the university in its investigation.
The story continues:
NUS was alerted to the possible fraud through an anonymous tip- off. While it usually disregards anonymous accusations, the evidence was compelling enough for it to start an inquiry.
A high-level panel – which includes professors experienced in looking at fraud cases – is coordinating the effort, as well as working with the overseas universities involved.
Dr Melendez could not be reached for comment. The University of Liverpool, his current employer, said he has been suspended without prejudice, pending the outcome of the inquiry.
‘We take accusations of research misconduct extremely seriously, and as such have investigated this at a senior level in line with university policy, as have the other institutions involved,’ said a spokesman.
We’ll update with anything we learn.
In the meantime, you can read the collection of links that Retraction Watch readers have left on our previous posts about Melendez.
Update, 1:10 p.m. Eastern, October 12, 2011: Melendez spoke with Nature’s Richard van Noorden. He repeated the claim he made to Retraction Watch last month about being on medical leave, and said there were errors that weren’t his fault:
Melendez told Nature that he was currently unwell and on sick leave, and that he was conducting his own investigation into other papers which he agreed did contain “questionable data”, but which, he asserted, were not his fault. “It has been a living nightmare. With the current leaks and smears I have to say something to defend myself,” he said. “I know that such problems are more common than we realise and I’m not condoning them,” he said. “I’m glad they were picked up.”