One of the world’s leading cancer researchers, MIT’s Robert Weinberg, has retracted a decade-old paper after finding out it contained errors.
Here’s the notice for “Ras Modulates Myc Activity to Repress Thrombospondin-1 Expression and Increase Tumor Angiogenesis,” a paper originally published in Cancer Cell in 2003:
We recently were made aware of a number of errors that were made in the processing/compiling of data ﬁgures in this paper. Although we stand by the conclusions of the paper and intend to provide support for them in future publications, the inappropriate presentation did not and does not fall within the bounds of acceptable scientiﬁc practice. Accordingly, we are retracting the paper in its entirety. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
One of the original authors, Yi-Ning Cheng, could not be reached regarding this Retraction.
The paper has been cited 233 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. The study was funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
Weinberg tells Retraction Watch the errors were due to “inadvertent sloppiness,” not misconduct:
These errors occurred during the (electronic) assembly of the figures, with internal loading controls being misassembled with the incorrect experimental channels. While they do not and did not affect the major conclusions of the paper, the journal nevertheless requested that we retract this paper because there were multiple errors in assembling these figures. We stand by these conclusions and we are about to republish these data (with corrected loading controls) plus additional newer data that extend and solidify the original findings. There was not and is not any indication of scientific misconduct, simply inadvertent sloppiness in the last minute assembly of these figures.
Weinberg is one of the most-cited cancer researchers in the world, having discovered the Ras and Rb genes. Twenty of his papers have been cited at least 1,000 times, and is the subject of Natalie Angier’s 1988 book, Natural Obsessions.