Fifth Alirio Melendez retraction offers clues about University of Glasgow misconduct findings
A new retraction — his fifth — in the Journal of Immunology for Alirio Melendez, formerly of the National University of Singapore, the University of Glasgow, and the University of Liverpool, sheds some light on the results of an investigation by one of the universities.
Last month, a Glasgow spokesperson told Nature that the university’s investigation had been completed in October 2011, but that it did not comment on individual cases. A spokesperson, according to the Times Higher Education:
…would say only that there was “no evidence that our current staff contributed, falsified or duplicated data to any publications co-authored with (Professor) Melendez”. He also confirmed that relevant journals would be contacted where retractions or corrections were deemed necessary.
The notice for one such necessary retraction, in the September 15 issue of the Journal of Immunology, gives a few details:
We wish to retract the article “Sphingosine Kinase1 Is Pivotal for FcεRI-Mediated Mast Cell Signaling and Functional Responses In Vitro and In Vivo” by Peter N. Pushparaj, Jayapal Manikandan, Hwee Kee Tay, Shiau Chen H’ng, Srinivasan D. Kumar, Josef Pfeilschifter, Andrea Huwiler, and Alirio J. Melendez, The Journal of Immunology, 2009, 183: 221–227.
An investigation by the University of Glasgow concluded that identical images have been used to depict different experimental conditions in other publications. Specifically, in Fig. 4c, the image in panel 1 (IgE-sensitized and saline challenged control mice [WT plus IgE plus PBS]) was previously published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2009, 106: 9773–9778) in Fig. 2 panel B1 (wild-type mouse injected with PBS alone), in Fig. 2 panel D3 (RAG1−/− mouse challenged with IL-33 alone), and in Supplementary Fig. S1.
We apologize to the scientific community for the need to retract this article.
The paper has been cited 15 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
The retraction is only signed by four of the authors: Peter N. Pushparaj, Hwee Kee Tay, Josef Pfeilschifter, and Andrea Huwiler. It seems to carefully avoid placing blame for the misused figure.
The PNAS paper to which the notice refers has now been retracted, as we reported last month. That retraction notice was corrected once to reflect the status of a Science paper that has been subject to an Expression of Concern. It was corrected again last week because it said the Journal of Immunology paper had already been retracted; now, of course, it appears prescient.