Last December, a group of scientists at a biotech firm published a paper on a “miniaturized, robotic clinical laboratory.” The technique, according to the authors, “would benefit patients and physicians alike.”
Nothing terribly unusual there. But what was — and what caught the eye of a Retraction Watch reader — was the name of the last author: Elizabeth Holmes.
If that name is familiar, it’s because you’ve been keeping up with news about Theranos, the blood testing company — now shut down — that Holmes founded to great fanfare. The whole story can be found in Bad Blood, by John Carreyrou, the Wall Street Journal reporter who has been on the Theranos case for years. But the upshot is that Theranos — and Holmes — were charged with fraud by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in March.
The recent paper, in Bioengineering & Translational Medicine, was published on Christmas Eve of last year, long after Carreyrou’s reporting on the company had begun to appear. Carreyrou mentioned it in a Wall Street Journal story about the company’s attempted pivot to a “mini-lab,” as did Rebecca Robbins of STAT.
As best we can tell, no one has raised questions about the paper’s findings. Samir Mitragotri, editor of the journal, tells Retraction Watch:
We are monitoring the situation and have not made any specific plans.
The situation brings to mind that of Paolo Macchiarini, the surgeon who was fired from the Karolinska Institutet after being found to have committed misconduct in his work on artificial tracheas. As Science reported in April, Macchiarini published a paper earlier this year on the subject. In that case, “The journal’s editor says he was unaware of Macchiarini’s history before publishing the study,” Matt Warren reported.
So what should happen to the Theranos paper, if anything? You tell us: Take our poll:
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