Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘Molecular Pharmacology’ Category

Retraction appears for group whose former member was sanctioned by ORI

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Journal of Biological ChemistryResearchers whose former colleague was recently reprimanded by the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) have retracted a biology paper for duplication.

The retraction includes some familiar names: The last author Steven Grant, senior author of the newly retracted study, is also the last author of 11 papers flagged in a report by the ORI in December, 2015. That report focused on Girija Dasmahapatra, a co-author of the 11 studies who was also based at at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Dasmahapatra left VCU in 2015, and is not listed on the latest retraction.

The retracted paper, published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC), was also co-authored by Paul Dent, a biochemist at the VCU, who we mentioned last year when he offered to retract another paper in Molecular Pharmacology after concerns arose on PubPeer. The journal has instead issued a lengthy correction (what we call a “mega-correction”).

A VCU spokesperson told us:
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Researcher denied PhD after “recklessly” committing misconduct

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Molecular PharmacologyA doctoral student at the University of Houston in Texas will not receive his PhD, following an institutional investigation into his work.

Mousa Abkhezr, the researcher in question, is no longer enrolled at the University of Houston, his former supervisor told us.

In June, the probe into papers co-authored by Abkhezr resulted in the retraction of a study in the American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology (AJP). Now, his ex-supervisor, Stuart Dryer, has pulled two more papers co-authored by the pair in Molecular Pharmacology.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Angiotensin II and Canonical Transient Receptor Potential-6 Activation Stimulate Release of a Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3–Activating Factor from Mouse Podocytes:” Read the rest of this entry »

Researcher committed misconduct “recklessly,” says investigation

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American Journal of Physiology Renal PhsyiologyA physiology journal has retracted a paper after an institutional investigation found that portions of the work had been falsified by the first author.

According to the notice issued by the American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology (AJP), the last author initiated the investigation at the University of Houston in Texas, which found the first author — Mousa Abkhezr — to be guilty of falsifying and duplicating images. 

We’ve obtained a copy of the investigation report, which concluded that Abkhezr committed misconduct “recklessly,” and the paper must be retracted. Although the report noted that Abkhezr argued that the problems stemmed from an honest error, the investigation committee ruled that data from the retracted paper cannot be included in his doctoral thesis.

The last author told us there is a separate ongoing “academic honesty enquiry” into Abkhezr’s dissertation. 

Here’s the retraction notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Highly cited cancer researcher logs 8th, 9th retractions

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Bharat Aggarwal

Bharat Aggarwal

Bharat Aggarwal, a highly cited cancer researcher who retired last year from MD Anderson, has logged two retractions following an investigation into his work, bringing his total to nine.

Aggarwal has threatened to sue us in the past, and told us that MD Anderson has been investigating his work. Earlier this year, Biochemical Pharmacology retracted seven studies of which he is the only common author, noting the “data integrity has become questionable.” Now, he’s earned two more retractions in Molecular Pharmacology, both for “inappropriate” or “unacceptable” image manipulation.

Both of the notices are paywalled (tsk, tsk). Here’s one for “Flavopiridol suppresses tumor necrosis factor-induced activation of activator protein-1, c-Jun N-terminal kinase, p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), p44/p42 MAPK, and Akt, inhibits expression of antiapoptotic gene products, and enhances apoptosis through cytochrome c release and caspase activation in human myeloid cells:” Read the rest of this entry »

Cancer researcher contributed “false data” to 11 studies

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ori-logoA former cancer researcher has falsified data in 11 studies, according to the results of a investigation scheduled to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow.

The Office of Research Integrity’s findings are based on an inquiry at Virginia Commonwealth University, where Girija Dasmahapatra worked until July of this year, investigating possible therapies for cancer. The misconduct affected research funded by three grants from the National Institutes of Health. Steven Grant, a researcher at VCU, is the principal investigator on the grants, each of which total over $2 million in funding. All of the 11 affected papers will be corrected or retracted, according to the ORI notice.

Two of the papers containing “falsified and/or fabricated” data — a study on an experimental combination of drugs for blood cancer and one on chemotherapies for rare forms of lymphoma  — were covered in press releases by VCU.

According to the notice in the Federal Register:

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Fourth retraction for Einstein oncologist due to image manipulations

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home_cover (1)Two papers on a potential cancer drug have been retracted following an investigation that found “inappropriate manipulation of bands in gels.”

This makes four retractions by our count for Roman Perez-Soler, an oncologist at the Einstein College of Medicine, and for co-author Yi-He Ling, whose current affiliation is unknown.

Their previous two retractions, which we reported on in 2013, were also for image manipulation. At the time, Perez-Soler told us that Ling “accepted full responsibility for the changes” and he had “returned to his home country.”

The fresh retraction notes, from Molecular Pharmacology, provide a few specifics about the figures that were manipulated this time around.

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“I hold my hands up”: PubPeer criticisms spark a biochemist’s offer to retract

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MPIn a back-and-forth on PubPeer, a researcher appears to have offered to retract a paper after commenters challenged the use of identical control bands on a gel.

A person writing as Virginia Commonwealth University biochemist Paul Dent admitted the control bands of his 2007 Molecular Pharmacology paper, “Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Modulates Prostate Cancer Cell Survival after Irradiation or HMG CoA Reductase Inhibitor Treatment,” were duplicated “for comparison purposes,” but stated he was “in no way attempting to ‘intentionally manipulate the data.’”

In response, Dent appeared to offer to pull the paper, about using a hormone to help kill prostate cancer cells:

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