In late January, we wrote a post about a retraction in the journal Molecular Endocrinology involving work from the lab of Stephen M. Black, of the Vascular Biology Center at at the Medical College of Georgia.
At the time, we didn’t know much. The notice was pretty thin sauce, although it hinted at “significant concerns with the data,” and we were led to believe that the first author of the article, Neetu Sud, a post-doc in Black’s lab, might have been implicated in those concerns. Because Black’s lab was working with substantial amounts of NIH funding, the prospect of an investigation by the Office of Research Integrity seemed likely.
Now we have a little more to go on. The American Journal of Physiology: Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology has retracted another article by Sud and Black. The paper, titled “Protein kinase Cδ regulates endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression via Akt activation and nitric oxide generation,” appeared in 2008 and included a third author, Stephen Wedgwood, of Northwestern University. It has been cited 10 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
Here’s the notice:
Drs. Black and Wedgwood retract this article for the following reasons: The PKCδ image in Fig. 1C has been reused in Fig. 2C but labeled as β-actin. In the representative images for Figs. 2A and 4A, the same β-actin blots have been used for two different experiments an acute, 30-min treatment with Rottlerin in Fig. 2A and a chronic, 24-h exposure in Fig. 4A. The same image was presented in Fig. 3A β-actin, Fig. 3B PKCδ, and Fig. 4C β-actin.
Although independent experiments have confirmed the major conclusions of the misrepresented data, Drs. Black and Wedgwood agree to the retraction of this article and apologize to the Editorial Board and readership of AJP-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology for these errors.
Dr. Sud has declined to sign this retraction as she maintains that the original data and conclusions are correct.
We were unable to reach Black to comment. But we did speak with Wedgwood, a fellow Scot (the two trained at Edinburgh University in the 1990s but met in the States), who told us that he hadn’t spoken with Black about the retraction:
My personal views are … I think it was probably a very stupid mistake rather than a blatant attempt to falsify data. Most [of the issues involved] a control experiment that really shouldn’t go wrong.
Sud, who has left the college, does not seem to be reachable.
Hat tip: “Clare Francis”