Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

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Recent finding of misconduct by federal U.S. agency sparks debate

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Nasser Chegini

In 2011, the University of Florida assembled a misconduct report about one of its ob-gyn researchers, identifying falsified data in a 2010 paper. But when an investigator at the U.S. Office of Research Integrity reviewed the report, something didn’t feel right.

“I reviewed the data, and I thought [UF] didn’t do their due diligence,” said Kristen Grace, then an ORI investigator, now heading up the compliance department of the Office of Clinical Research at the University of Pennsylvania. “Because the extent of the the falsification was so great.”

So the ORI asked the UF to re-open its investigation, expanding it to include previous years of work by Nasser Chegini, now retired. The institution also hired a new director of research compliance, who oversaw the second investigation. That report, completed in October 2013, was significantly more extensive — it documented intentional falsifications or fabrications in nine papers published between 2003-2008. (Through a public records request, we obtained a copy of this second report, which you can read in full here.) But last month, the ORI issued a finding of misconduct against Chegini that focused on only one paper; the agency said it chose to take a “targeted approach,” since eight of the nine papers had already been retracted.  

The move has prompted a debate — while some argue it’s a pragmatic use of ORI’s limited resources, others (including Grace) are concerned:

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Written by Alison McCook

August 17th, 2017 at 11:13 am

After investigation that started at least 5 years ago, retired ob-gyn prof agrees to 5 years of supervision

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Nasser Chegini

A now-retired professor tweaked the findings in seven figures of a 2007 paper, according to a new finding of misconduct released yesterday by the U.S. Office of Research Integrity.

The subject of the findings isn’t a stranger to our readers: We’ve already reported on nine retractions for Nasser Chegini, a former professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Florida (UF) who had won more than $4 million in Federal grants. And Chegini, who retired in early 2012, had been under investigation since at least 2012, with the ORI asking UF to broaden that investigation at one point.

Indeed, the ORI’s notice states that eight of Chegini’s retractions resulted from the UF’s investigation. The ORI’s findings, however, stem from another paper, published in the Journal of Reproductive Immunology, which has not been retracted.

According to the ORI, in that paper, Chegini:

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Former ob-gyn prof notches ninth retraction; investigation still underway

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Nasser Chegini

Nasser Chegini

A retired obstetrics and gynecology professor under federal investigation for misconduct has notched his ninth retraction.

The latest retraction stems from an investigation by the University of Florida, where Nasser Chegini worked until 2012, which found fabricated data in three figures in a paper on the muscle cells that line the uterus.

The paper, “Differential expression of microRNAs in myometrium and leiomyomas and regulation by ovarian steroids,” was published in The Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. It’s been cited 74 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Here’s the note:

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Former Florida ob-gyn prof notches eighth retraction

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University of Florida

University of Florida

Nasser Chegini, the former University of Florida professor currently under investigation by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), has now had eight papers retracted.

The eighth paper, in the journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, is about the effect of a compound used during fertility treatments on Smads, signaling molecules that carry messages from TGF-beta receptors to the nucleus. It’s being retracted disappeared due to the discovery of data that “have been fabricated or falsified by the last author” — namely, Chegini.

Here’s more from the notice for “Gonadotropin releasing hormone analogue (GnRHa) alters the expression and activation of Smad in human endometrial epithelial and stromal cells:” Read the rest of this entry »

Ob-gyn prof up to 7 retractions, latest due to “substantial data misrepresentation”

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University of Florida

University of Florida

Two more retractions have popped up for Nasser Chegini, the former University of Florida professor currently under investigation by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI).

Both retractions appear in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. The notices indicate that an investigation report from the University of Florida “found substantial data misrepresentation” in two JCEM articles about Smads, signaling molecules that carry messages from TGF-beta receptors to the nucleus.

Here’s the notice for “The Expression of Smads in Human Endometrium and Regulation and Induction in Endometrial Epithelial and Stromal Cells by Transforming Growth Factor-Beta” (cited 28 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge):

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Three more retractions appear for Florida ob-gyn under investigation

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University of Florida

Nasser Chegini via University of Florida

Two Oxford journals have now put out three more retractions for ob-gyn and former University of Florida professor Nasser Chegini, who has been under ORI investigation since at least 2012. That makes a total of five retractions, by our count.

Here is the notice for “The expression profile of micro-RNA in endometrium and endometriosis and the influence of ovarian steroids on their expression” in Molecular Human Reproduction: Read the rest of this entry »

Second retraction appears for former University of Florida ob-gyn subject to ORI probe

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University of Florida

Chegini, via University of Florida

Nasser Chegini, an ob-gyn formerly on the faculty at the University of Florida who has been the subject of an Office of Research Integrity (ORI) inquiry for several years, has a second retraction.

Chegini is suspected of having used bogus data in some of his work — research backed in part by some $4 million in federal funding.

The new retraction involves a 2008 paper in Reproductive Sciences on which Chegini was senior author. Here’s the notice: Read the rest of this entry »

ORI investigating University of Florida ob-gyn researcher accused of misconduct

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A prominent researcher at the University of Florida is under federal investigation for research misconduct and has lost at least one paper as a result of the fraud.

The researcher, Nasser Chegini, was a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the U of Florida until about six months ago, when he retired, according to the chair’s office. Nasser has received at least $4 million in federal grant funding, according to the university.

The retracted paper, “MicroRNA 21: response to hormonal therapies and regulatory function in leiomyoma, transformed leiomyoma and leiomyosarcoma cells,” was published in 2010 by Molecular Human Reproduction. The authors were Qun Pan and Xiaoping Luo and Chegini.

As the notice explains: Read the rest of this entry »