A researcher has agreed to a five-year ban on Federal U.S. funding for research after the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) determined that he had falsified or fabricated more than 40 images in nine papers.
The findings, released by the ORI today, are another chapter in a case involving John Pastorino, a cell biologist at Rowan University. In February, we reported that two journals had issued expressions of concern (EOCs) for six of his papers.
Pastorino, according to the ORI,
falsified and/or fabricated Western blot data for mitochondrial function related to cell/tissue injury, in fifty-eight (58) blot panels included in forty-two (42) figures in eight (8) publications, one (1) unpublished manuscript, and one (1) grant application. In the absence of valid Western blot images, the Respondent fabricated and/or falsified quantitative data in associated bar graphs, statistical analyses presented in figure legends, and related text.
The researcher, says the ORI,
duplicated images, or trimmed and/or manipulated blot images from unrelated sources to obscure their origin, and relabeled them to represent different experimental results.
Six of the eight published papers, from the Journal of Cell Science and Biology Open, are the ones subjected to EOCs earlier this year. The other two are:
- “Sirtuin-4 modulates sensitivity to induction of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore,” published in 2013 in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – Bioenergetics and cited 10 times, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science, and
- “Hexokinase II Binding to Mitochondria Is Necessary for Kupffer Cell Activation and Is Potentiated by Ethanol Exposure,” published in 2014 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and cited four times.
The ninth paper was an unpublished manuscript submitted to the Journal of Cell Science. All told, the eight published papers have been cited more than 200 times.
Pastorino, who agreed to a five-year Federal funding ban, did not immediately respond to a voicemail and email seeing comment. The ORI findings do not say anything about retracting the papers.
This is the ORI’s second announcement of a finding within a week.
Update, 11 a.m. Eastern, 5/13/16: Rowan University tells us that they required Pastorino to retract all of the published papers, and that
The respondent is no longer employed at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine.
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