Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘Nature Genetics’ Category

EMBO awardee under investigation loses grant

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Sonia Melo

Sonia Melo

Sonia Melo, the recipient of an early career award from the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) who fell under investigation after one of her papers was retracted, has now lost the grant.

On the EMBO release announcing the nine awardees of the 2015 Installation Grants, there now appears an asterisk beside Melo’s name. At the bottom of the page, this message appears: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

March 2nd, 2016 at 10:30 am

“There was no effort to commit fraud,” says EMBO awardee under investigation

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Sonia Melo

Sonia Melo

A recent recipient of an early career award now under investigation by granting agency EMBO told us today that last week’s retraction in Nature Genetics stemmed solely from an “embarrassing error,” and she hopes to republish the data in a new paper.

Last week was rough for Sonia Melo: Nature Genetics retracted one of her papers, and the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) announced it was investigating the papers that formed the basis of her application. The retraction was of “A TARBP2 mutation in human cancer impairs microRNA processing and DICER1 function,” which has been cited 235 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Melo’s Installation Grant from EMBO was announced in December, and consists of 50,000 Euros annually for three to five years. She is currently based at the University of Porto, in Portugal.

Melo contacted us today to defend her record: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

February 2nd, 2016 at 11:30 am

EMBO takes back Voinnet’s award, investigates other awardee who just lost a Nature Genetics paper

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Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 11.41.20 AMEMBO has taken back an award given to beleaguered plant biologist Olivier Voinnet in 2009, and is investigating a recent grantee who had a paper retracted from Nature Genetics yesterday.

The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) “promotes excellence in the life sciences” in Europe, in part by awarding prizes to promising young scientists. Voinnet and Sonia Melo earned their awards by exhibiting potential as young scientists studying genetics — of plants and cancer, respectively — but now EMBO is skeptical of the papers that formed the basis of their applications.

Melo’s Installation Grant from EMBO was announced just last month, and consists of 50,000 Euros annually for three to five years. She is currently based at the University of Porto, in Portugal.

Voinnet’s problems are well-documented on this blog — 21 corrections, seven retractions, and two investigations. Earlier this week, we reported that the Swiss National Science Foundation had cut off Voinnet’s funding, and banned him for three years. Read the rest of this entry »

Corrections (and one EoC) propagate for distinguished plant biologist, Olivier Voinnet

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Olivier Voinnet

Olivier Voinnet

There may be some deeply rooted issues in the work of high-profile plant biologist Olivier Voinnet, biology department research director at ETH in Zurich. Corrections have continued to pile up months after his work was hit with a barrage of criticism on PubPeer. We’ve tracked a total of seven corrections over the past five months (not including the April retraction of a 2004 paper in The Plant Cell). One of the corrected papers also received an Expression of Concern this week.

Collectively, the corrected papers have accumulated more than 1200 citations.

In January, Voinnet said he planned to correct multiple papers, after receiving “an anonymous email.”

One of the recent corrections we found is for a 2003 article in The Plant Journal, “An enhanced transient expression system in plants based on suppression of gene silencing by the p19 protein of tomato bushy stunt virus,” which details using proteins from a tomato virus to help alter gene expression. The study has been cited 862 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. Here’s the correction notice, posted June 8:

Read the rest of this entry »