Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

And then there were eight: Three more retractions for Alirio Melendez, all in the Journal of Immunology

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alirio_melendezAlirio Melendez, who has already retracted five papers and was found by one of his former universities to have committed misconduct on more than 20, has three more retractions.

Here’s the notice for “Antisense Knockdown of Sphingosine Kinase 1 in Human Macrophages Inhibits C5a Receptor-Dependent Signal Transduction, Ca2+ Signals, Enzyme Release, Cytokine Production, and Chemotaxis,” cited 68 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge:

The editors hereby retract the article titled “Antisense Knockdown of Sphingosine Kinase 1 in Human Macrophages Inhibits C5a Receptor-Dependent Signal Transduction, Ca2+ Signals, Enzyme Release, Cytokine Production, and Chemotaxis” by Alirio J. Melendez and Farazeela Bte Mohd Ibrahim, The Journal of Immunology, 2004, 173: 1596–1603.

An investigation by the National University of Singapore concluded that Fig. 2A and 2C display irregular backgrounds that suggest the bands were improperly inserted. The investigation also concluded that Fig. 2A was duplicated in Zhi et al., Journal of Cellular Physiology, 2006, 208: 109–115, which has been retracted by Dr. Gary S. Stein, the Editor-in-Chief of that journal.

The Investigative Committee of the National University of Singapore concluded that Dr. Melendez committed serious scientific misconduct. The committee found no evidence indicating that other coauthors were involved in the scientific misconduct.

The notice — signed only by the first author — for “Phospholipase D1 Plays a Key Role in TNF-α Signaling,” cited 14 times:

I wish to retract the article “Phospholipase D1 Plays a Key Role in TNF-α Signaling” by Swaminathan Sethu, Grecia Mendez-Corao, and Alirio J. Melendez, The Journal of Immunology, 2008, 180: 6027–6034.

An investigation by the National University of Singapore concluded that in Fig. 1C, three cells in the 5 and 10 min points appear identical, but rearranged in location. The investigation also concluded that the cells in the 2, 5, and 10 min time points in Fig. 6B were identical to the 5, 15, and 30 min time points in Fig. 1A in Pushparaj et al. (The Journal of Immunology, 2009, 183: 221–227), which has been retracted.

The Investigative Committee of the National University of Singapore concluded that Dr. Melendez committed serious scientific misconduct. The committee found no evidence indicating that the coauthors were involved in the scientific misconduct.

Finally, the notice — signed by the first two authors — for “VAMP8 Is Essential in Anaphylatoxin-Induced Degranulation, TNF-α Secretion, Peritonitis, and Systemic Inflammation,” cited 7 times:

We wish to retract the article “VAMP8 Is Essential in Anaphylatoxin-Induced Degranulation, TNF-α Secretion, Peritonitis, and Systemic Inflammation,” by Peter N. Pushparaj, Hwee Kee Tay, Cheng-Chun Wang, Wanjin Hong, and Alirio J. Melendez, The Journal of Immunology, 2009, 183: 1413–1418.

An investigation by the National University of Singapore concluded that Fig. 5D originated from Supplemental Fig. 2B in Dai et al. (Blood, 2009, 114: 318–327). In addition, the investigation found that a significant fraction of the introduction was plagiarized from the introduction to “The Role of C5A in Inflammatory Responses,” by Guo and Ward (Annual Review of Immunology, 2005, 23: 821–852).

The investigative committee of the National University of Singapore concluded that Dr. Melendez committed serious scientific misconduct. The committee found no evidence indicating that other coauthors were involved in the scientific misconduct.

More retractions are probably on the way. As Nature‘s Richard van Noorden reported late last year, the NUS investigation found evidence of misconduct in 21 papers. But the university said they wouldn’t release the whole list, nor would they be making the report public.

Speaking of the NUS, we were recently made aware of an erratum by Barry Halliwell, who recused himself from the Melendez investigation because the two had worked together. Here’s the Journal of Neurochemistry‘s notice for 1992’s “Reactive Oxygen Species and the Central Nervous System“:

In Halliwell (1992), the author did not cite a previous edited transcript of a talk given at a symposium on New Strategies in the Treatment of Parkinsons Disease in 1989, published as a meeting proceedings in a supplement, even though parts of the text were substantially similar. To complete the academic record, reference is now given to that prior publication:

Halliwell B (1989) Oxidants and the central nervous system: some fundamental questions. Is oxidant damage relevant to Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic injury or stroke? Acta Neurologica Scandinavica126 (Suppl), 2333.

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