Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Another retraction for Anil Potti, with an inscrutable notice

with 4 comments

We’ve seen a lot of retraction notices for work by Anil Potti — 10, to be precise, along with 7 corrections and one partial retraction notice. As notices go, they tend to be pretty complete. So when we saw one in CHEST for this 2008 abstract, we were expecting something similar.

Instead, we were confused.

Here’s the notice:

We would like to withdraw our abstract “Upregulated Oncogenic Pathways in Patients Exposed to Tobacco Smoke May Provide a Novel Approach to Lung Cancer Chemoprevention,” which appeared in CHEST2 and was presented as a poster on October 29, 2008.

The results reported in this abstract and poster presentation were obtained using chemotherapeutic predictors developed in the Nature Medicine article, “Genomic Signatures to Guide the Use of Chemotherapeutics”1,that have since been shown to be inaccurate, and the article has been retracted.3

The authors relied on the results reported by Potti1, and they were not aware of the errors subsequently reported. We apologize for any negative impact on scientific research or clinical care caused by the presentation of our abstract.

1. Potti A, Dressman HK, Bild A et al. Genomic signatures to guide the use of chemotherapeutics. [retracted in: Nat Med. 2011;17(1):135] Nat Med. 2006;12(11):1294-1300.

2. Redman RC, Acharya CR, Anguiano A et al. Upregulated oncogenic pathways in patients exposed to tobacco smoke may provide a novel approach to lung cancer chemoprevention [abstract]. Chest. 2008;134(4):158001S.

3. Potti A, Dressman HK, Bild A et al. Retraction: Genomic signatures to guide the use of chemotherapeutics. Nat Med. 2011;17(1):135.

This was the sentence we found difficult to interpret:

The authors relied on the results reported by Potti1, and they were not aware of the errors subsequently reported.

That’s because “The authors” include Potti, so “they” would seem to include him too. How exactly was he not aware of the errors subsequently reported?

We’ve asked one of the authors, and the journal’s editor, who actually signed the notice, since the journal doesn’t indicate that, and also asked what that sentence meant. We’ll update with anything we learn.

Potti is now working at a cancer center in North Dakota, the state where he completed some of his medical training. On September 8, neighboring Minnesota granted him a medical license, as DukeCheck reported. He had allowed his previous Minnesota license to expire in 2008.

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 5th, 2012 at 11:30 am

  • failuretoreplicant October 5, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    I can’t believe this guy is allowed to work with patients. I hope his medical skills are better than his research skills.

  • chirality October 5, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    The narrative goes that at the time when the abstract was being published, Potti was not aware that his Nature Medicine article contained errors. He learned of these errors later and decided to retract the paper. Whether somebody pointed a proverbial gun to his head to make the decision to retract easier is unclear. This retraction caused the entire house of cards, including the joker, to collapse. Hence the current retraction.

  • JudyH October 6, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Surely the Minnesota medical board cannot be unaware of the unethical activities of this man. And they don’t have North Dakota’s excuse that it’s hard to induce doctors to move to the state. What justification can Minnesota give for approving a medical license?

  • JudyH October 6, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Well, a look at the link to the Minnesota information tells part of the tale. The information in the public part of the application is scanty, and the board must know more than it releases to the public, but much of what is included in the application is “self-reported” and is not verified by Minnesota authorities. Nor is there any information about malpractice allegations filed or malpractice lawuits settled. Or even civil malpractice jury awards. Only felony convictions are of interest, and those are self-reported. Not much of a regulatory board, in my opinion. Minnesota might as well save its money and just mail out a license to anybody who applies. Puzzled monkey, what sayest thou about this circumstance?

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