Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Five more retractions for biologist with funding ban brings total to six

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Journal of Cell ScienceAn erstwhile cell biologist has retracted five papers published in the Journal of Cell Science (JCS), all of which had been flagged in a recent investigation by the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI).

The investigation found John Pastorino, previously a cell biologist at Rowan University in New Jersey, guilty of doctoring more than 40 images, resulting in a five-year funding ban.

The probe identified eight papers co-authored by Pastorino, six of which had already received expressions of concern (EOC) — including all of the newly retracted JCS papers. Nataly Shulga is a co-author on all eight papers.

Last week, we reported on the first of the expected retractions of the flagged papers in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Here are the retraction notices, which are the same for all five JCS papers:

This article has been retracted at the request of the corresponding author, John G. Pastorino.

This notice updates and replaces a recent Expression of Concern, published on 15 February 2016.

Journal of Cell Science was alerted to potential blot duplication and reuse in the following five papers published in Journal of Cell Science by John G. Pastorino:

Sirtuin-3 deacetylation of cyclophilin D induces dissociation of hexokinase II from the mitochondriaNataly Shulga, Robin Wilson-Smith and John G. Pastorino J. Cell. Sci. (2010) 123, 894-902

Ethanol sensitizes mitochondria to the permeability transition by inhibiting deacetylation of cyclophilin-D mediated by sirtuin-3 Nataly Shulga and John G. Pastorino J. Cell. Sci. (2010) 123, 4117-4127

GRIM-19-mediated translocation of STAT3 to mitochondria is necessary for TNF-induced necroptosisNataly Shulga and John G. Pastorino J. Cell. Sci. (2012) 125, 2995-3003

Sirtuin-3 modulates Bak- and Bax-dependent apoptosis Manish Verma, Nataly Shulga and John G. Pastorino J. Cell. Sci. (2013) 126, 274-288

Mitoneet mediates TNFα-induced necroptosis promoted by exposure to fructose and ethanol Nataly Shulga and John G. Pastorino J. Cell. Sci. (2014) 127, 896-907

These concerns were relayed to Dr Pastorino, the corresponding author, who responded with an explanation and original data. Following review of these data, we felt unable to resolve this matter at a distance, so contacted the authors’ institution (Rowan University) and requested that they investigate further.

Following their assessment, Rowan University required that Dr Pastorino retract all of the above named papers published in Journal of Cell Science. Dr Pastorino also entered a Voluntary Exclusion Agreement with The Office of Research Integrity (ORI); the agreement can be found here:

ORI found that Dr Pastorino intentionally falsified and/or fabricated data and, specifically, that he “duplicated images, or trimmed and/or manipulated blot images from unrelated sources to obscure their origin, and relabelled them to represent different experimental results in:”

  • Figures 2A,C; 3B; 5A; 7B; 8A in J. Cell. Sci. (2010a), 123, 894-902.
  • Figures 2B; 5A; 6A,B in J. Cell. Sci. (2010b), 123, 4117-4127.
  • Figures 1A; 2A,B; 4C; 5A,B; 6A; 7A–C in J. Cell. Sci. (2012) 125, 2995-3003.
  • Figures 4F; 5H; 6A in J. Cell. Sci. (2013) 126, 274-288.
  • Figures 1B; 2B,C; 3A,B; 4D in J. Cell. Sci.( 2014) 127, 896-907.

In May, Rowan University told us that Pastorino was no longer employed at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine and that the institution had asked him to retract all papers flagged by the ORI findings.

According to the ORI, Pastorino

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.

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  • fernandopessoa July 28, 2016 at 10:05 am

    Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 Jan;1827(1):38-49. doi: 10.1016/j.bbabio.2012.09.016. Epub 2012 Oct 5.
    Sirtuin-4 modulates sensitivity to induction of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore.
    Verma M1, Shulga N, Pastorino JG.
    Author information
    1Department of Molecular Biology, School of Osteopathic Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Stratford, NJ 08084, USA.

    2016 retraction notice.

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