Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Another correction for Rui Curi, whose legal threats helped force shutdown of Science Fraud site

with 36 comments

joeThe Journal of Endocrinology has run a correction for a paper by Rui Curi, the Brazilian scientist whose lawyers threatened after the site ran a number of posts critical of Curi’s work.

Here’s the notice for “Non-esterified fatty acids and human lymphocyte death: a mechanism that involves calcium release and oxidative stress”:

The authors apologise for an error in Figure 7 of this article published in volume 195, pp 133–143 of the Journal of Endocrinology. Panel G of Figure 7 has an error and the correct panel is provided below.

curi joe image

Figure 7G

Anti-α-actin was used as internal control.

The paper has been cited 14 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. It’s Curi’s third correction since the beginning of the year. He’s also had a retraction.

  • Ari February 28, 2013 at 10:01 am

    If somebody would ask me what seem to be the problematic bands in figure 7 of the above manuscript, the actin one would not be my first candidate. Look at the Bid and FasL. Can somebody explain that to me?

    • Schmuck February 28, 2013 at 10:23 am

      They work in their own mysterious ways

  • Buster February 28, 2013 at 10:09 am

    The actin blot is identical to the BCL-2 blot in Fig 5 of Pires et al 2007 from the same group.

    • Dio February 28, 2013 at 10:28 am

      So, this is not a case for retraction? Image duplication?

      • amw February 28, 2013 at 10:49 am

        No case for enforced retraction by the journal because there has not been and never will be a misconduct investigation. Which means he can make individual corrections to individual journals none of whom realise (and why should they care?) that theirs is just one of many. JBC are the only journal to have enforced a retraction for image duplication (as far as I know – the Gopal Kundu case). I’ve never heard of another journal insisting on it.

        14 citations in 6 years – not exactly a big-hitting paper… I think most of the papers are pretty obscure.

        Thinking constructively, this is a second group which one could study scientifically. The first is those corrections which later turn into retractions (rare but there are examples e.g. Kato). Here we are talking about multiple corrections. These cases are pretty solid pieces of evidence of unreliable science and you don’t need to argue strongly that the science is unreliable – it is indisputable. The conclusion is that the journals are not acting to protect the reader by insisting on retraction.

        • Busta Bloodvessel March 1, 2013 at 2:33 am

          I wonder about the implication of the use of the word ‘multiple’. There have been several corrections from the laboratory of Curi as far as I am aware and the quality of the images ‘corrected’ is poor in each case.
          I therefore suggest that accusations of misconduct are ignored but more appropriately there should be an investigation into how such poor quality data was accepted for publication in the first place.

          • Buster March 1, 2013 at 3:00 am

            In this case the same blot was used to represent two different proteins in two different publications from the same year. This makes it very unlikely that it was a honest mistake by accidentally mislabeling something…

            Of course, if you – hypothetically speaking – had a pile of unlabeled blots at hand to pick one that matches your needs, then the resulting figure would pretty much look like Fig 4. Different band shapes, different resolutions, and different sizes.

            And if that is not enough you pick a random band (let’s say the middle one from the Bax blot in Figure 5 of the Pires 2007 paper…) and paste it where it is needed (let’s say the middle lane from Bid in Fig 7 of the now corrected Otton 2007 paper).

    • Frederic March 1, 2013 at 7:25 am

      WOW! That is WAAAAAYYYY too much… even for Curi!
      Did I get it right? They used the same blot for DIFERENT PROTEINS IN DIFERENT PAPERS?!
      No way! Can’t be real… this journal has no credibility! I will not gonna read any paper from this journal anymore… This is not peer-review, this is friend-review.

  • chirality February 28, 2013 at 10:54 am

    They should have corrected the title as well. “Non-esterified fatty acids” is a pleonasm.

    • Busta Bloodvessel March 1, 2013 at 2:25 am

      Pleonasm (from Greek, pleon: more, too much) is the use of more words or word- parts than is necessary for clear expression

      Non-esterified fatty acids is a term widely accepted and used in physiology and biochemistry. It accurately reflects that the fatty acid is not esterified to an alcohol, such as glycerol.

  • chirality March 1, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Non-esterified fatty acid = fatty acid.
    Once an acid gets esterified, it is no longer an acid.

  • maripoosa March 1, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    this is ridiculus…

    • maripoosa March 1, 2013 at 4:46 pm

      and we are talking about the big name in Brazilian science

      • DEUS ex MACHINA March 3, 2013 at 4:52 am

        I cannot accept his stauts as a big name, he is not. Big involves collaborations, being well known, contributing and making progress. He is neither making progress with all these oils nor helping brazilian science.

        • PS March 4, 2013 at 9:34 am

          Definitely not a big name! Never heard of him before this scandals! Please note that CNP1 1A means nothing, numbers o papers means nothing. There is no impact of his science…

          • maripoosa March 4, 2013 at 7:37 pm

            Technically speaking he is a big name, he maintains the director position in the largest biomedical institute from USP.

          • Hibby March 4, 2013 at 8:59 pm

            accurately said

          • DEUS ex MACHINA March 5, 2013 at 4:50 am

            Curi is far from the brazilian nucleus of biomedical/biochemical sciences in Brazil in the mast 10 years. At Minas and Rio, the directors of the respective biomedical sciences (also top Institutes) are NOT top guys in their fields, but they have 20-30 years of academy and teaching on their backs, loads of papers just to polute the already polluted literature on their respective fields, PhD’s that never published more than 1 article and lots, lots of politics. We cannot compare Curi to a big scientist but to a big politic in the toxic environment of low impact science x high impact selfishness. Fair enough, but please do not come here to talk about science using his name as a reference to Brazilian science. He is not. Even Nicolelis is worth a debate on his own, for scientific merit or bureaucratic creepyness, but not Curi. Sil vous plâit.

          • Hibby March 5, 2013 at 5:26 am

            Fair or no fair, the system made him leader. He is the 1A, director, author of textbooks, the one newspaper reporters come to, national-award-wining Curi. This is why system has to change!

          • PS March 6, 2013 at 9:54 am

            So, I’m not following…If he is a leader in fact why I never came across his papers? Oh, I know! I was reading good journals!

  • DEUS ex MACHINA March 6, 2013 at 5:46 am

    Curi being investigated by a commision led by CNPq now. Results to come in april:,cnpq-aceita-denuncias-contra-cientista-da-usp-,1004405,0.htm

    Hope they will choose the right guy to “investigate” him.

    • maripoosa March 7, 2013 at 5:21 pm

      Does anyone know what happened at the Institution levels, to people accused of fraud that have published erratum or retract several papers, such in this case? What could one expect if any penalty does apply?

      • DEUS ex MACHINA March 8, 2013 at 9:13 am

        Loss of funding support for a certain period of time, depends on the final decision, accusation (thesis involved? , etc). Happened before but in much more relaxed situation. Looking for the sources to show you…

  • Madman March 7, 2013 at 2:39 pm
    • Frederic March 8, 2013 at 3:55 am

      Retraction Watch will need to hire more employees in order to be capable of following so many corrections from Curi! Too much work ahead…

    • Stewart March 8, 2013 at 9:43 am

      That data is tight. Really tight, and from only 3 repeats.

      Of course, figure 5 describes only 2 experiments being performed. Please tell me they did not use ANOVA for statistical analysis.

  • PS March 7, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    I really don’t get this. NINE retraction/correction! How is that possible! In both cases his “status” should be re-evaluated!

    • DEUS ex MACHINA March 8, 2013 at 9:15 am

      There is a serious problem there. Wheter badly managing his students or just acting consciently, he must pay for these 9 corrections. It’s beyond any simple software problem or image acquisition…

  • Bostan March 7, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    With this one, almost all papers from the group flagged by Science Fraud were corrected or retracted. The ones that remain are:

    I’m pretty sure thet they also will.

  • Stewart March 8, 2013 at 9:39 am


    With increasing numbers of retractions from problems highlighted on the science-fraud website I wonder whether the two additional papers you mention Bostan will result in either an ever-continuing trend or a statistically significant “serious problem”.

    Mentioning Science fraud, when will the new AAPPR be live?

      • DEUS ex MACHINA March 10, 2013 at 7:27 am

        I posted it earlier last week, and reading this “”Deverá ser alguém que entende das técnicas utilizadas nos trabalhos e que não tenha conflitos de interesse com o professor Rui Curi”, disse ao Estado o presidente da Ciac, Paulo Beirão.”, Beirao is one of the guys who might investigate people like Curi. No one from USP might be selected, Minas and Rio might be the first choices, since Curi, there, is just “another one”.

        • Drake March 10, 2013 at 2:22 pm

          Just remember that Beirao also had partnership with Curi, since he wrote a chapter in a book by Curi:

          BEIRÃO, P. S. L. . Canais iônicos e eletrogênese nas células excitáveis. In: Rui Curi; Joaquim Procópio. (Org.). Fisiologia Básica. 1ed.Rio de Janeiro: Guanabara Koogan, 2009, v. , p. 92-114.

          • DEUS ex MACHINA March 10, 2013 at 3:46 pm

            This is just basic physiology, mostly undergrad stuff in a book with more than 10 authors… But Beirao and a couple of others are good guys of the brazilian old school of cellular and molecular biochemistry. Many others from this generation may help as well…

  • Buster April 29, 2013 at 7:41 am
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