Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Author blamed for misconduct in Cell paper declines to sign retraction notice  

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Researchers have retracted a 2015 paper in Cell after an investigation revealed the first author committed misconduct.

According to the retraction notice, which first author Ozgur Tataroglu declined to sign, the researchers realized there was an issue with the 2015 paper when they were unable to replicate the findings. Corresponding author Patrick Emery and his team at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester reviewed the data and found “clear evidence” that Tataroglu  — who had been a postdoc in Emery’s lab — “had repeatedly misrepresented and altered primary data,” the notice states.

UMass subsequently conducted an investigation in which it “concluded that the first author committed scientific misconduct.”  

Here’s the retraction notice for “Calcium and SOL Protease Mediate Temperature Resetting of Circadian Clocks:”

In the above article, we presented evidence that temperature phase shifts animal circadian clocks through regulated degradation of critical circadian pacemaker proteins mediated by calcium and SOL protease. In follow-up experiments, other members of the corresponding author’s laboratory were unable to reproduce key observations made in vivo that supported the role of calcium and SOL protease in signaling temperature input to the Drosophila circadian clock. An in-depth review of the dataset generated by the first author revealed clear evidence that he had repeatedly misrepresented and altered primary data pertaining to the role of calcium, calmodulin, and SOL protease in Drosophila during the study. An independent investigation conducted by the University of Massachusetts Medical School concluded that the first author committed scientific misconduct. Since the manipulated data—which measured the amplitude of circadian phase shifts in response to temperature pulses in various genotypes using luciferase and behavioral assays—were critical to support our conclusions, we are retracting the above article. We sincerely apologize to the scientific community for publishing this erroneous article and profoundly regret any inconvenience and confusion that it might have caused. The first author, Ozgur Tataroglu, declined to sign this retraction.

The 2015 paper has been cited eight times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science,

Several years ago, Emery and colleagues thought they had discovered something new about how our internal biological clocks work — a molecular pathway in fruit flies that could explain how our biological clocks respond to temperature.

The authors published their findings in 2015. In an archived version of the press release accompanying the paper (the link no longer works), Emery said that the findings could ultimately “help shift workers or travelers cope with circadian rhythm disruptions.”

According to the paper, the research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health. In June 2016, Emery received a five-year $4.1 million Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to continue studying the mechanisms associated with circadian rhythms.

We contacted Emery to ask about the data manipulation and the university’s investigation, but he declined to comment. We emailed Tataroglu’s UMass email but it bounced back. We could not find his current contact details.

In 2016, Emery and co-authors retracted a 2007 paper in PLOS Biology after outside researchers were unable to replicate one of the main findings. According to the notice, the authors repeated their experiments and “failed to reproduce two of the three findings in the original paper.” Emery was the second to last author on “PER-TIM Interactions with the Photoreceptor Cryptochrome Mediate Circadian Temperature Responses in Drosophila,” which has been cited 44 times.

Hat tip: Khalid El Bairi  

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Comments
  • Fom September 28, 2017 at 11:48 am

    “We emailed Tataroglu’s UMass email but it bounced back. We could not find his current contact details.”

    tatarogl AT gmail.com

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