ORI investigating University of Florida ob-gyn researcher accused of misconduct
The researcher, Nasser Chegini, was a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the U of Florida until about six months ago, when he retired, according to the chair’s office. Nasser has received at least $4 million in federal grant funding, according to the university.
The retracted paper, “MicroRNA 21: response to hormonal therapies and regulatory function in leiomyoma, transformed leiomyoma and leiomyosarcoma cells,” was published in 2010 by Molecular Human Reproduction. The authors were Qun Pan and Xiaoping Luo and Chegini.
As the notice explains:
Following an investigation by the University of Florida providing evidence of the senior (third) author’s use of manipulated or falsiﬁed data in Figures 1,3 and 4, the Journal wishes to retract the paper published in Molecular Human Reproduction (MHR) 16: 215 – 227 (2010) ‘MicroRNA 21: response to hormonal therapies and regulatory function in leiomyoma, transformed leiomyoma and leiomyosarcoma cells’.
The information presented in these three ﬁgures is key to the conclusions of the paper. Neither Qun Pan nor Xiao Ping Luo were the subject of any investigation. Although beyond its control, the Journal sincerely apologises to its readers.
The paper has been cited 21 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
Luo was remarkably terse in an email interview about the case, responding “no” to every question we posed– including whether “no” was the answer to any specific questions or to our queries in general.
But we had better luck with Helen Beard, managing editor of the journal:
The first communication came by email on 18 May 2012 from The Senior Associate Dean for Research Affairs and the Chair of the Department of Obstretics and Gynaecology of the University of Florida. At our request this was followed up by additional information on July 12 2012.
Evidence for falsification of Figures 1,3, and 4 obtained following an investigation by the University of Florida was provided by the departmental Chair. All three researchers responded to our follow-up emails and we derived the wording of the retraction statement with their collaboration, and with the approval of the Associate Vice president for Research at the university of Florida, and representatives of the ORI. We believe this wording is complete and true.
Beard said she was unaware of any other affected publications, but added that the investigation is not complete:
At the request of the ORI the investigation of scientific misconduct by Dr Chegini has been re-opened and extended in scope.
We’ll obviously be watching this case for more developments.
Update, 1:45 p.m. Eastern, 10/29/12: Beard tells us:
The first investigation was by the ‘College Research Advisory Committee’ of the University of Florida. The investigation has been re-opened at the direction of the ORI. The finding of the first investigation was that the respondent had committed scientific misconduct.