Leiden University fires employee for research fraud, two retractions to follow
A researcher at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands has been fired for research fraud, and the university is retracting two papers, the Dutch press is reporting.
But don’t ask us who the employee was. That information is conspicuously absent from the medical center’s communications on the subject.
Here’s a press release from Leiden, in English via Google Translate:
LUMC fires fraudulent researcher
August 14, 2013 | PRESS RELEASE
Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC) has fired an employee who has committed fraud in the collection of research data. An internal inquiry showed that the employee deliberately manipulated laboratory research. The employee has confessed and accepted the dismissal. Additionally, the LUMC withdraws two scientific publications by this employee. The fraud was discovered by immediate colleagues at the Rheumatology Department.
“The LUMC deeply regrets the incident,” says Pancras Hogendoorn, Board member and dean of the LUMC. “It is clear that at no time a dangerous situation has arisen for patients because the manipulation took place with test material in the laboratory.” Following a report by an employee an investigation committee had been set up in June. The committee investigated the cause of the poor reproducibility of certain research findings in the laboratory of the Rheumatology Department. The outcome of the study showed that one employee had consciously committed fraud.
“The LUMC praises the behavior of the alert colleague who brought the fraud to light,” said Hogendoorn. “Scientific integrity is an absolute need to obtain and keep the trust of patients, researchers and society.” The clinical trial which the laboratory research was part of, has been stopped. It is about a study was designed to predict for whom the drug omalizumab can suppress the disease activity of rheumatoid arthritis. All participants in this study have been informed meanwhile.
Checking more publications
In addition to the two publications to be withdrawn, the investigation committee now checks previous scientific publications where the researcher has been involved. Depending on the outcome of this follow-up investigation, other scientific publications will be retracted if necessary.
Integrity CodesThe LUMC applies integrity codes based on the national codes. There is a counselor for reports of suspected scientific misconduct. Each mention leads to an investigation and initiation of an internal committee that uses formal procedures and hears both sides. In addition, the LUMC has a research code. The code reminds employees (and the outside world) of scientific integrity and transparency. Good employment is obviously also important: no one is guilty until proven otherwise.
And here’s a somewhat redacted report from Leiden (in Dutch).
We realize that this post is a bit like ESPN announcing that there has been a baseball game, that some runs have scored, and that one of the teams won. But we’ve had a number of messages on Twitter and elsewhere on the report, so we decided to post what we know, and perhaps our Dutch-speaking readers can help us find out more.