Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

7th retraction for Ohio researcher who manipulated dozens of figures

with 4 comments

Terry Elton, via OSU

Terry Elton

A pharmacology researcher at Ohio State University has added his seventh retraction, four years after a finding of misconduct by the U.S. Office of Integrity (ORI).

An analysis of the work of Terry Elton determined that he had

falsified and/or fabricated Western blots in eighteen (18) figures and in six (6) published papers.

 In 2012, the ORI finding, which resulted in a three-year funding ban (that is now complete), recommended that Elton retract all six papers, one of which had already been retracted at the time of the report. 

Four years later, the last of the six papers flagged by the ORI has finally been retracted by Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology.

Here’s the retraction notice:

This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (http://www.elsevier.com/locate/withdrawalpolicy).

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor.

An investigation by the Office of Research Integrity determined that falsified and/or fabricated images were included in Fig. 6 of the above article (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-12-26/html/2012-30866.htm).

The 2006 paper, “TGF-β1 regulation of human AT1 receptor mRNA splice variants harboring exon 2,” has been cited seven times (once since 2012), according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

An Elsevier spokesperson told us the delay in retraction of the Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology paper was due to an “admin error.”

In going through the list of Elton’s papers recommended for retraction by the ORI, we found two notices issued in 2013 that we missed at the time. 

First, here’s the retraction notice for “Human Chromosome 21-derived miRNAs are Over-expressed in Down Syndrome Brains and Hearts:”

This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (http://www.elsevier.com/locate/withdrawalpolicy).

This article contains improperly prepared data in Figs. 3B, 3C, 3F, 3H, 3I and 3J that are unreliable. The authors apologize to the readers for this error and for any inconvenience associated with the publication of the article.

The 2008 paper, in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, has been cited once.

And here’s the retraction notice for “Transcriptional regulation of the AT1 receptor gene in immortalized human trophoblast cells,” published by Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids:

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief and Author. The article contains improperly prepared data in Figs. 5, 6B, 7B and 9B that are unreliable. The authors apologize to the readers for this error and for any inconvenience associated with the publication of the article.

The 2004 paper has yet to be cited.

All six of the papers flagged by the ORI have now been retracted. In 2013, Elton lost an additional paper in The Journal of Biological Chemistry that was not flagged by the ORI for unclear reasons. This is the extent of the notice:

This article has been retracted by the publisher.

An Ohio State spokesperson confirmed that Elton is still based at the university, but declined to say whether there are any ongoing investigations into his work.

Previously, the university sent us this statement on the case:

Dr. Elton has received a written reprimand; will be required to participate in mandatory counseling on research misconduct and complete formal training on research ethics; and he is prohibited from supervising or serving as a primary advisor to any undergraduate or graduate students, postdoctoral trainees, or laboratory technicians for three years. In addition, all manuscripts and grant applications that Dr. Elton participates in will be reviewed and approved by university officials prior to submission for a period of five years.

Elton is a well-cited researcher, with at least 14 papers cited more than 100 times each.

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Comments
  • Dr. Herman Borkent August 25, 2016 at 1:15 am

    As a physician, I rely on other’s medical research. How is it that openly fraudulent researchers continue on?

    • Ralph Giorno MD August 25, 2016 at 6:30 pm

      Indeed, this guy should not have a job in any university, but the entire academic system is corrupt.

  • fernandopessoa August 25, 2016 at 7:18 am

    Because they bring in the grant money.

  • Anonymous November 3, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    How does he still maintain his job with 7 retractions?
    http://www.pharmacy.ohio-state.edu/faculty-staff/users/elton8

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