Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

3rd retraction appears for fired Pfizer breast cancer researcher

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Pfizer has retracted a paper by a former employee who was fired after the company discovered she had been doctoring data.

The retraction, in Molecular Cancer Research, is the third of five papers Pfizer asked to retract, after an investigation discovered they contained duplicated images. The papers have been discussed on PubPeer, which is also mentioned in the latest retraction notice.

As a result of the investigation, Pfizer terminated the employment of Min-Jean Yin, the last author on the newly retracted paper.

According to the notice, Yin and five of her co-authors agreed to the retraction:

The article titled, “Nek6 Mediates Human Cancer Cell Transformation and Is a Potential Cancer Therapeutic Target,” which was published in the May 2010 issue of Molecular Cancer Research (1), is being retracted at the request of Pfizer.

The AACR Publications Department recently received a letter from a Pfizer representative reporting the results of an investigation of image duplication in Figs. 3A, 3D, 4A, and 5A that were also noted several months ago on the PubPeer.com website. The investigation found that all of the images in question appear to be duplications and most of the authentic, original images that should have been used in place of the duplicated images cannot be located. To ensure that the research record is correct, Pfizer is requesting Retraction of the article and has obtained consent from six authors. All authors have consented to this Retraction except for Lihua Shao who could not be located.

Nek6 mediates human cancer cell transformation and is a potential cancer therapeutic target” has been cited 31 times since it was published in 2010, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters.

We were unable to find contact information for Yin. Her previous LinkedIn page — which listed her as a general manager at a startup Diagnologix — is no longer active.

Last year, Pfizer requested five retractions as a result of its investigation; this represents the third to be issued. The remaining two studies, both published in PLOS ONE, are:

We’ve contacted a spokesperson for PLOS to ask about the status of the papers, who told us:

PLOS ONE is the final stages of our investigation into this matter and it is being treated as a high priority.

Hat tip: Steven McKinney

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