Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘cell’ Category

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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Cell Press investigating possible image manipulation in influential yeast genetics paper

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cellCell Press is looking into anonymous allegations that a pair of influential papers on gene activation in yeast may contain more than two dozen instances of image manipulation, according to a spokesperson for the journal.

The accusations first appeared in March on PubPeer, where they triggered a small avalanche of comments, including one asserting “unambiguous and repeated examples of data re-use.”

The concerns raised on PubPeer have even sparked an investigation by an institution in Spain, which found no evidence to support the allegations. But not everyone agrees with that verdict.

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Harvard biofilm paper in Cell breaks down after challenged findings can’t be repeated

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CELL_161_4.inddResearchers at Harvard have retracted a Cell paper on biofilm disassembly after they repeated the experiment—following contradictory results from another team—and the new results “can no longer support” the original conclusions.

The 2012 paper, “A Self-Produced Trigger for Biofilm Disassembly that Targets Exopolysaccharide,” describes a factor called norspermidine, produced by the bacteria Bacillus subtilis, that appeared to break down biofilms. The researchers used it to prevent biofilm formation of B. subtilis, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus. The paper was cited 72 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Two years after it was published, a team from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and the University of Dundee in the UK contradicted the findings in another Cell publication, “Norspermidine Is Not a Self-Produced Trigger for Biofilm Disassembly.” This time, the authors concluded that norspermidine is not present in B. subtilis biofilms, and actually promotes, rather than breaks down, biofilms. They wrote: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Megan Scudellari

May 14th, 2015 at 3:15 pm

Former Columbia postdoc faked Alzheimer’s research in Cell and Nature

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cover_natureRyousuke Fujita, a former Columbia University postdoc who admitted to having faked the findings of a 2011 Cell paper in a retraction notice last year, also faked the results of a 2013 Nature paper, according to a new report from the Office of Research Integrity (ORI).

Fujita’s work, in conjunction with Asa Abeliovich, was widely hailed as a significant step forward, a way to turn skin cells into brain cells. But the story began falling apart when the Cell retraction said that he “acknowledged inappropriately manipulating image panels and data points, as well as misrepresenting the number of repeats performed.”

The ORI’s findings in the case also involve a 2013 Nature paper, “Integrative genomics identifies APOE ε4 effectors in Alzheimer’s disease,” and a paper never published. Fujita, according to the ORI: Read the rest of this entry »

Other shoe drops for MIT cancer researcher Robert Weinberg as Cell retraction appears

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cell cloningRobert Weinberg, a prominent cancer scientist whose papers often notch hundreds or thousands of citations, has lost a fourth paper, this time a 2009 publication in Cell.

Journal Genes and Development pulled two of Weinberg’s papers in March, stating that they had retracted the 2009 study because data from several experiments was used in figures that seemed to represent only one. The Genes and Development papers were sunk because the “same analytical methodology was used.”

At the time, the Cell retraction was unavailable, though a spokesperson informed us it was forthcoming. The paper has been cited 482 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Now that the notice has landed, here’s why the paper is being retracted: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

April 3rd, 2015 at 11:35 am

Award-winning plant researcher correcting several papers critiqued on PubPeer

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Olivier Voinnet

Olivier Voinnet

Olivier Voinnet, a researcher at ETH in Zurich and the winner of the 2013 Rössler Prize, is correcting a number of papers following critiques of more than a dozen of his studies on PubPeer.

The work appears in journals including Cell and PNAS. Voinnet’s co-author on several of the papers, David Baulcombe, who is also highly decorated, left this comment on relevant PubPeer entries: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

January 9th, 2015 at 11:28 am

“I kind of like that about science:” Harvard diabetes breakthrough muddied by two new papers

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Doug Melton

Harvard stem cell researcher Doug Melton got a lot of press last year for research on a hormone he named betatrophin, after its supposed ability to increase production of beta cells, which regulate insulin.

Now, the conclusions from that paper, which has been cited 59 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge, have been called into question by research from an independent group, as well as follow-up work from the original team.

The interest was driven by the hormone’s potential as a new treatment for diabetes. In 2013, Melton told the Harvard Gazette that betatrophin could be in clinical trials within three to five years. Here’s Kerry Grens in The Scientist: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

November 10th, 2014 at 9:30 am

A PNAS expression of concern appears — and so does its revealing backstory

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pnas 1113When retraction notices and expressions of concern appear, particularly those that are opaque, we try our best to find out what’s behind them, whether it’s better explanations or the steps that led to moves. Today, we have one story in which we’ve been able to learn a lot more than usual.

In April, Bas van Steensel, Wendy Bickmore, Thomas Cremer, and Kerstin Bystricky sent a letter to about 80 leading labs in nuclear organization and steroid receptor biology. It began (we’ve added some relevant links): Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

September 17th, 2014 at 9:30 am

Cell retraction of Alzheimer’s study is second for Tufts neuroscientist

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Gizem Donmez, via Tufts

A researcher at Tufts University has retracted a paper in Cell, a year after retracting a study on a similar subject from the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Here’s the notice for “SIRT1 Suppresses β-Amyloid Production by Activating the α-Secretase Gene ADAM10,” a 2010 paper by Tufts’ Gizem Donmez, MIT’s Leonard Guarante — of longevity research fame — and colleagues: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

August 13th, 2014 at 8:30 am

Fraud fells Alzheimer’s “made to order” neurons paper in Cell

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cell414In 2011, a group of researchers at Columbia University reported in Cell that they had been able to convert skin cells from patients with Alzheimer’s disease into functioning neurons — a finding that raised the exciting prospect of “made to order” brain cells for patients with the degenerative disease. As one researcher not involved with the study, led by Asa Abeliovich, put it:

“[This is] simply a remarkable and complete piece of work which will now set a standard for stem cell work in neurological disease. The standard of the characterization of the neuronal cultures is very high,” John Hardy at University College London, U.K., wrote to [Alzforum]. He was not involved in the work but is taking a similar approach in his own lab.

According to the abstract of “Directed Conversion of Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Skin Fibroblasts into Functional Neurons:”

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