Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘image manipulation’ Category

Inquiry into duplications reveals “multiple” image problems in tumor study

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STEM_17_1.c1.inddA paper on how abnormal stem cells can cause benign bone tumors has been retracted by Cell Stem Cell after an inquiry into image duplications also uncovered “multiple instances of inappropriate western blot image adjustment.”

The first two authors “declined” to sign the retraction, according to the notice.

Besides confirming initial suspicions that images had been duplicated, the editors also found “multiple instances of inappropriate western blot image adjustment, such as uneven compression of images and removal of background elements:”

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Voinnet notches second retraction, two more corrections

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PNASOlivier Voinnet — a plant researcher who was recently suspended for two years from the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) after an investigation by ETH Zurich and CNRS found evidence of misconduct — has issued his second retraction and two more corrections.

PNAS posted the retraction earlier this week for a 2006 article after an inspection of the raw data revealed “errors” in study images. Authors confirmed the issues in some figures and revealed “additional mounting mistakes” in others.

Voinnet has promised to issue retractions and corrections for every study that requires them. These latest notices bring our tally up to nine corrections, two retractions and one Expression of Concern.

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UPitt investigation brings total retraction count to four for pair of cancer researchers

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Journal of Biological Chemistry1An official inquiry by the University of Pittsburgh has led to two more retractions for a pair of cancer researchers, Tong Wu and Chang Han. By our count, the pair now have four retractions under their belt, all the result of the university investigation.

The Journal of Biological Chemistry published the notices earlier this month, after it was discovered the papers contained cropped panels, among other issues. Importantly, the two papers appear to even have shared some data.

One 2006 paper, “Modulation of Stat3 Activation by the Cytosolic Phospholipase A2α and Cyclooxygenase-2-controlled Prostaglandin E2 Signaling Pathway,” investigated the molecular actors in cancer growth, such as overexpression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). It has been cited 34 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. Here’s the notice:

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HIV postdoc faked data in published paper, 2 grants

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Julia Bitzegeio

An HIV researcher has admitted to faking data in a published paper, a manuscript, and two grant applications, according to a notice released today by the the Office of Research Integrity (ORI).

Former postdoc Julia Bitzegeio faked data in a 2013 paper, published in the Journal of Virology, about how HIV adapts to interferon. In the paper, “the manipulation was really minor,” Theodora Hatziioannouprincipal investigator of the lab at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center (ADARC) in New York City where Bitzegeio worked, told Retraction Watch. “She just made cosmetic changes.”

The paper will be corrected, Hatziioannou said. Bitzegeio has left her lab, and her future is somewhat less clear:

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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 2004 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:

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JBC cancer paper felled by duplication is one author’s second retraction this month

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25.coverA 2002 paper in the Journal of Biological Chemistry on how lung cancer cells resist death has been retracted for duplicating figures from a 2001 paper.

The retracted paper, “Fibroblast growth factor-2 induces translational regulation of Bcl-XL and Bcl-2 via a MEK-dependent pathway: correlation with resistance to etoposide-induced apoptosis,” shares the first and last authors with the 2001 paper, in Oncogene, as well as two other co-authors.

Here’s JBC’s entire retraction note, a sub-genre with which we’ve become intimately familiar by now:

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Lost your data? Blame an earthquake

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A natural disaster is to blame for a retraction about lethal brain tumors. At least, that’s where the authors say the problem started: with a 2010 earthquake that caused a loss of “substantial data.”

The paper, “Superoxide-dependent uptake of vitamin C in human glioma cells,” looks at how the cells of lethal brain tumors interact with the vitamin commonly used to reduce side effects of therapies.

Post earthquake, someone digitally filled in a western blot analysis of proteins from a cell line and rat brains, as a “temporary solution.” And then the temporary solution made its way into the Journal of Neurochemistry.

Here’s the retraction note from the journal, including an image of the sneaky western blot:

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Written by Shannon Palus

June 25th, 2015 at 12:00 pm

Oncogene to retract breast cancer paper following years-old misconduct investigation

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Oncogene is retracting a 2010 paper on the molecular details of breast cancer cells as they undergo metastasis following an investigation that discovered the first author had committed misconduct.

The thing is, the investigation concluded in 2012, and the paper — “miR-661 expression in SNAI1-induced epithelial to mesenchymal transition contributes to breast cancer cell invasion by targeting Nectin-1 and StarD10 messengers” — isn’t being retracted until next week.

According to Lucinda Haines, senior publishing manager at Nature Publishing Group, the paper will be retracted June 29.

We heard from Iris Behrmann, Head of the Life Sciences Research Unit at the University of Luxembourg:

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Columbia biologists “deeply regret” Nature retraction, after postdoc faked 74 panels in 3 papers

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natureA team of Columbia University biologists has retracted a 2013 Nature paper on the molecular pathways underlying Alzheimer’s disease, the second retraction from the group after a postdoc faked data.

An April report from the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) found the a first author, former Columbia postdoc Ryousuke Fujita, responsible for “knowingly and intentionally fabricating and falsifying research in seventy-four (74) panels” in three papers: a 2011 Cell paper retracted in 2014, an unpublished manuscript, and this now-retracted Nature paper, “Integrative genomics identifies APOE e4 effectors in Alzheimer’s disease.”

The paper was touted in a Columbia University Medical Center press release as identifying “key molecular pathways” leading to late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The paper fingered two potential molecular drug targets, as well.

Here is the full retraction notice: Read the rest of this entry »

“Significant overlap” between figures spurs note of concern for 13-year-old retinoblastoma paper

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AmJPatholThe American Journal of Pathology has posted a note of concern to a 2002 paper about retinoblastoma after discovering two sets of figures “share significant overlap… suggesting that they did not originate from different specimens.”

The overlap was “simultaneously brought to the attention of the Editors” by both the corresponding author and a “concerned reader.”

The paper examined the role of a transcription factor called NF-kappaB in driving retinoblastoma, and suggested that inhibiting the molecule’s activity could be a therapeutic strategy.

The authors attribute the overlap to “an inadvertent misidentification of the original files at the stage of image capture.” They add that they “sincerely regret this inadvertent error;” because other data in the paper show “concordant results,” they stand by the paper’s findings.

Here’s the note:

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Written by Alla Katsnelson

June 15th, 2015 at 9:30 am