These latest notices move the count up to 8.5 retractions for Potts-Kant and 7.5 for Foster (counting the partial retraction as 1/2), along with the correction for both. In both cases and in a familiar note from previous retractions, authors found “potential discrepancies” between two sets of data (partial retraction) and study figures that weren’t “reliable” (retraction).
The retraction comes after the authors discovered problems with three of the study figures. In the corrected paper, the authors were able to validate some of their findings after repeating the experiments, but retracted two of the study figures that they were “unable to verify.”
Two former researchers at Duke University at the center of a lawsuit by a whistleblower to recoup millions in federal funding have lost yet another paper.
This is hardly the first retraction for Erin Potts-Kant, who used to work in the pulmonary lab of now-retired William Michael Foster. Earlier this year, a lawsuit filed by a former colleague of Potts-Kant and Foster was unsealed alleging that the pair — along with the university — included fraudulent data in materials involving more than 60 grants, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
That is the legal side of their story. The science publishing side is that Potts-Kant and Foster have been steadily adding to their list of retractions — this paper represents her 16th, and his 13th.
A researcher charged with embezzlement — and now the subject of a multi-million dollar lawsuit — has earned another correction, again citing “unreliable” data.
But this doesn’t appear to be a run-of-the-mill correction notice.
Firstly, it affects a paper co-authored by Erin Potts-Kant and William Foster, former Duke employees now being sued (along with Duke) for including fraudulent data in $200 million worth of federal grants. Secondly, the notice in the Journal of Biological Chemistry is four paragraphs long, and includes six figures — it would normally be considered a “mega-correction.” But lastly, even though the notice is labeled a “correction,” it’s not immediately apparent which aspects of the paper are being changed.
Retraction Watch readers may recall the case of Erin Potts-Kant, who pled guilty to embezzling funds from a lab, and now has 15 retractions, and Michael Foster, both formerly of Duke. You may also remember that we’ve featured discussions of the False Claims Act, which some attorneys are trying to use to expose wrongdoing — and earn large settlements for whistleblowers in the process.
It turns out those two threads are intertwined, as we learned only last month when a federal court case against Potts-Kant, Foster, and Duke was unsealed last month. (False Claims Act cases are frequently sealed when initially filed, with big penalties for anyone — including the attorneys — who talk about them, which is why we didn’t know of this link before.) In today’s Science, as part of our new partnership, we tell the story in a lot more detail, and describe the potential ramifications for Duke and other universities.
The whistleblower in the Duke case is named Read the rest of this entry »
Like many of those papers, the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine is being flagged over concerns it is “unreliable.” Here’s more from the EOC:
We’ve found another retraction for Erin Potts-Kant, a former researcher at Duke, bringing her total to 15.
Yesterday we reported on two new retractions for Potts-Kant in PLoS ONE, which earned her a spot in the top 30 on our leaderboard. As with the others, the latest paper, in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, is marred by “unreliable” data.
Both of the newly retracted papers — originally published in 2012 by PLOS ONE — list Erin Potts-Kant as a co-author; one includes her former supervisor, Michael Foster, as lead author. The pair has since left Duke (Potts-Kant was arrested for using school credit cards to shop at the likes of Target, and Foster retired). The reason provided for these retractions will be familiar to anyone who’s been following their case — there were “concerns about the reliability” of the data.
By our count, Potts-Kant now has 14 retractions, making her one of the few women to hold a position on our leaderboard.
Here’s the retraction notice for “Iron Supplementation Decreases Severity of Allergic Inflammation in Murine Lung,” a paper that lists both Foster and Potts-Kant as authors:
Two retractions and three corrections have appeared for a group of Duke researchers that already have 10+ retractions under their belts.
The reasoning behind them echoes that which we’ve seen before in notices for Michael Foster and Erin Potts-Kant: Following an inquiry from the university, the journals were informed that some of the data or results weren’t reliable, and not all of the experiments could be repeated.
A colleague aware of the case said that researchers are still working to repeat experiments from papers by Potts-Kant and Foster. It is not known how many more papers might be corrected or retracted. Duke University is fully supporting the validation of these experiments, the source told us.
Foster has retired from Duke, a spokesperson for the university confirmed. Read the rest of this entry »
Duke researcher Michael Foster and his former co-author Erin Potts-Kant are adding to their notice count with a major correction from late last year to a paper on how certain cells in mice respond to a pneumonia infection, citing “potential discrepancies in the data.”
The correction is actually a partial retraction: The note explains that parts of three figures should be discounted.
We’ve also recently unearthed multiple corrections and two retractions from the pair that we missed from earlier in 2015.
After questions about the data in the corrected paper arose, the authors were able to replicate most of the experiments in the paper, according to the note. But since the paper was published, the senior author passed away, closing her lab, so they couldn’t repeat all of the work.
Here’s the correction notice for “Mast cell TNF receptors regulate responses to Mycoplasma pneumoniae in surfactant protein A (SP-A)−/− mice,” published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology:
Data issues continue to plague pulmonary papers co-authored by Duke University professor William Foster and former Duke researcher Erin Potts-Kant. Yesterday, the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine posted an Expression of Concern for two articles from the pair while the findings are “under review.”
The notice was published after the paper’s corresponding author, John Hollingsworth (also at Duke), told the journal that “some of the data published in these articles may be unreliable,” a term that we’ve gotten used to seeing from previous retractions.
Another Expression of Concern from the journal published earlier this year for another paper co-authored by Foster and Potts-Kant turned into a retraction months later. Hollingsworth was a co-author on that paper and another paper retracted from Environmental Health Perspectives in July.