Robert Weinberg, a prominent cancer scientist whose papers often notch hundreds or thousands of citations, has lost a fourth paper, this time a 2009 publication in Cell.
Journal Genes and Development pulled two of Weinberg’s papers in March, stating that they had retracted the 2009 study because data from several experiments was used in figures that seemed to represent only one. The Genes and Development papers were sunk because the “same analytical methodology was used.”
At the time, the Cell retraction was unavailable, though a spokesperson informed us it was forthcoming. The paper has been cited 482 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
Now that the notice has landed, here’s why the paper is being retracted:
compiling data from independent experiments to present them as one internally controlled experiment, statistical analyses based on technical replicates that are not reflective of the biological replicates, and comparisons of selectively chosen data points from multiple experiments.
Here’s the notice for “A Pleiotropically Acting MicroRNA, miR-31, Inhibits Breast Cancer Metastasis”:
This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (http://www.elsevier.com/locate/withdrawalpolicy).
This article has been retracted at the request of the authors. Our study reported that miR-31 is a regulator of multiple mRNAs important for different aspects of breast cancer metastasis. We recently identified concerns with several figure panels in which original data were compiled from different replicate experiments in order to assemble the presented figure. The scope of the figure preparation issues includes compiling data from independent experiments to present them as one internally controlled experiment, statistical analyses based on technical replicates that are not reflective of the biological replicates, and comparisons of selectively chosen data points from multiple experiments. As many of the published figures are therefore not appropriate or accurate representations of the original data, we believe that the responsible course of action is to retract the paper. We apologize for any inconvenience we have caused.
As we noted last month:
First author Scott Valastyan was a promising postdoc at the time of the paper’s publication. He was a 2011Runyon Fellow at Harvard, a three-year, $156,000 award for outstanding cancer postdocs. He doesn’t seem to have published anything since 2012, though he is listed as a joint inventor with Weinberg on patents filed in 2009 and 2014.
We’ve asked Weinberg for comment, and will update with anything we learn.
Hat tip: the Wackademic
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