Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

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Stem cell researcher Jacob Hanna’s correction count updated to 10

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Jacob Hanna

Jacob Hanna

Thanks to some eagle-eyed readers, we’ve been alerted to some corrections for high profile stem cell scientist Jacob Hanna that we had missed, bringing our count to one retraction and 13 errata on 10 papers.

The problems in the work range from duplications of images, to inadvertent deletions in figures, to failures by his co-authors to disclose funding sources or conflicts of interest. Hanna is the first or last author on 4 of the papers, and one of several on the rest.

First up, a correction to a Cell paper on which Hanna is the first author:

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A correction to a correction for stem cell researcher Jacob Hanna

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Jacob Hanna

Jacob Hanna

A correction to a correction is the latest problem for highly cited researcher Jacob Hanna. The stem cell scientist — whose high-profile work has received scrutiny over the past year — has amended an earlier correction notice after a reader spotted an inadvertent “mistake.”

We reported on the original correction, to the 2009 Cell Stem Cell paper “Metastable Pluripotent States in NOD-Mouse-Derived ESCs,” in July. The paper has been cited 184 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Apparently, a pair of images in the original correction note are of the same cell colonies, when they are supposed to be of separate cell colonies.

The new (and detailed) note explains how that happened:

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JCI retracts paper by stem cell biologist Jacob Hanna, citing “figure irregularities”

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jciapril2015The Journal of Clinical Investigation has retracted a 2004 paper by Jacob Hanna, a highly cited stem cell researcher in Israel whose work has been dogged by questions about its validity.

Questions about the work, and other articles on which Hanna was an author, were raised on PubPeer last November. This is his first retraction.

The retraction stems from “a number of figure irregularities;” the authors say they were “inadvertently introduced,” and subsequent work has supported their data and conclusions. However, due to the “number of serious mistakes,” the JCI editorial board chose to retract the article. Hanna and corresponding author Ofer Mandelboim at The Lautenberg Center for General and Tumor Immunology — part of Hebrew University, in Jerusalem, where Hanna used to work — say they have accepted the decision.

Hanna, currently at the Weizmann Institute of Science, studies ways to reprogram cells to become more versatile stem cells. He also spent time as a postdoc at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge and Mount Sinai, in New York City.

Six of Hanna’s papers have been cited more than 500 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. The most-cited, with more than 1,000 citations, was a 2008 Nature paper.

The retracted article, “Novel APC-like properties of human NK cells directly regulate T cell activation,” has been cited 121 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

The retracted paper examined the early steps of an immune response involving natural killer (NK) cells and antigen-presenting cells (APCs). From the abstract: Read the rest of this entry »

Stem cell researcher Jacob Hanna responds to criticism

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Jacob Hanna

Jacob Hanna

Over the past few months, there has been a great deal of criticism of the work of stem cell researcher Jacob Hanna, especially on PubPeer.

Now, Hanna has responded in the comments of the PubPeer entries for a number of papers. He has also posted a number of PDFs, including his PhD thesis, and correspondence with scientists who have been critical of his work.

He also wrote a response to a criticism published on bioRxIV, a non-peer reviewed repository of biology pre-prints.

One of Hanna’s comments on PubPeer is a summary of the issues with his Blood paper on PubPeer, blaming the figure errors on “medical trainees” who did the word while he was away at Mount Sinai. Here’s his explanationRead the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

January 21st, 2015 at 9:30 am

Cell biologist Hanna issues two errata; images mysteriously disappear from Imgur

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Jacob Hanna

Jacob Hanna

Cell biologist Jacob Hanna, the highly cited stem cell researcher currently at the Weizmann Institute of Science,  has posted a long erratum for a 2005 paper in Blood for “inadvertent mistakes,” among other issues; soon after, Hanna’s team issued another erratum for a 2009 Cell Stem Cell paper.

There’s more to tell: Last month, commenters on PubPeer noticed that images from at least 10 of the research papers Hanna coauthored in seven journals — that commenters had posted on the image hosting website Imgur and linked to on PubPeer — had been deleted.

Imgur did not confirm whether these specific images had been deleted, but told Retraction Watch:

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Stem cell researcher Hanna “working…to correct the unfortunate and inadvertent mistakes” in papers

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jacob

Jacob Hanna

Jacob Hanna of Israel’s Weizmann Institute has been a media darling for years, including as a member of the 2010 Technology Review 30 under 35 for his work with stem cells.

However, questions have been mounting about his research, both on PubPeer (which has critical comments for 15 papers he’s an author on) and in other stem cell labs, who have not been able to reproduce much of Hanna’s work.

We asked Hanna about a PubPeer entry specific to a 2005 paper in BloodCommenters have accused the authors of figure manipulation and possible data republication. Here’s a figure from that post: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

December 17th, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Structural biology corrections highlight best of the scientific process

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Nature_latest-coverIf you need evidence of the value of transparency in science, check out a pair of recent corrections in the structural biology literature.

This past August, researchers led by Qiu-Xing Jiang at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center corrected their study, first published in February 2014 in eLife, of prion-like protein aggregates called MAVS filaments, to which they had ascribed the incorrect “helical symmetry.” In March, Richard Blumberg of Harvard Medical School, and colleagues corrected their 2014 Nature study of a protein complex called CEACAM1/TIM-3, whose structure they had attempted to solve using x-ray crystallography.

In both cases, external researchers were able to download and reanalyze the authors’ own data from public data repositories, making it quickly apparent what had gone wrong and how it needed to be fixed — highlighting the very best of a scientific process that is supposed to be self-correcting and collaborative. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekend reads: Savage peer reviews, cosmology claim bites dust, $50 million diet pill hoax

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booksThis week at Retraction Watch featured polar opposites: Two new entries in our “doing the right thing” category, and one in our plagiarism euphemism parade. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

January 31st, 2015 at 10:13 am

Posted in weekend reads

PubPeer Selections: More questions about stem cells, price-shopping access charges

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pubpeerHere’s another installment of PubPeer Selections: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

December 4th, 2014 at 9:41 am

Posted in pubpeer selections

Weekend reads: Yelp for journals; where do the postdocs go?; scientific papers’ hidden jokes

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booksThis week at Retraction Watch featured two Office of Research Integrity findings, and retractions in the Voinnet and Hanna cases. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

April 11th, 2015 at 10:01 am

Posted in weekend reads