Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘misconduct investigations’ Category

Cornell finds mistakes — not misconduct — in papers by high-profile nutrition researcher

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Brian Wansink

An internal review by Cornell University has concluded that a high-profile researcher whose work has been under fire made numerous mistakes in his work, but did not commit misconduct.

In response, the researcher — Brian Wansinkannounced that he has submitted four errata to the journals that published the work in question. Since the initial allegations about the four papers, other researchers have raised numerous questions about additional papers that appear to contain duplicated material. Wansink noted that he has contacted the six journals that published that work, and was told one paper is being retracted.

Here’s the statement from Cornell about its initial probe:

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Written by Alison McCook

April 6th, 2017 at 3:23 pm

Star pediatric oncologist committed misconduct, ethical violations: reports

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Stefaan Van Gool

A high-profile pediatric oncologist quietly left his former institution in 2015 after it concluded his clinical trials had been affected by significant “administrative problems.” But now the results of the university’s investigations and what followed have become public, after a paper in Belgium published a series of news reports last month.

We’re still hazy on some details of the case. The recent news reports allege that Van Gool started some clinical trials without proper ethical approvals and informed consent, and may have misled patients and their families about the benefits and potential side effects of his experimental treatment. Meanwhile, the CEO University Hospitals Leuven (UZLeuven) told us that Stefaan Van Gool, who had appointments at both the hospital and the university (KULeuven), left the hospital in 2015 as a result of administrative problems, but did not disclose the specific nature of these issues.

For the past 15 years or so, Van Gool has been developing and studying a vaccine to treat various cancers, initially at UZLeuven and, after September 2015, at a private clinic in Germany. Today, patients travel to his private clinic from all over the world and pay tens of thousands of dollars to receive the vaccine. But according to Flemish daily newspaper De Standaard, several years ago, UZLeuven began investigating his research and patient care practices. The outcome of these investigations was kept private until last month, after De Standaard published its reports.

Marc Decramer, the CEO of UZLeuven, confirmed that Van Gool left the hospital in 2015 and the university in 2016, but did not provide the specific reasons for his exit:

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Written by Victoria Stern

April 5th, 2017 at 11:30 am

Once-prominent researcher logs retraction following misconduct finding

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A researcher who resigned from the University of Dundee in Scotland after it concluded he was guilty of misconduct has issued his first retraction.

According to an internal email to staff forwarded to us last year, the university concluded that Robert Ryan had misrepresented clinical data and images in 12 different publications. The first retraction, published by Molecular Microbiology, cites image duplications in multiple figures.

Here’s the full notice:

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Journals retract paper, flag two others by cancer doc under investigation

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Carlo Croce

This weekend, Carlo Croce had some reprieve from the misconduct accusations that have followed him for years (recently described in a lengthy article in the New York Times) and that have prompted his university to re-open an investigation. On Sunday, he received a prestigious award from the American Association for Cancer Research, honoring his work.

But the moment may have been short-lived. Today, Croce received two expressions of concern (EOCs) from PNAS for two well-cited papers published over a decade ago, on which Croce — chair of the Department of Cancer Biology and Genetics at The Ohio State University (OSU) — is last author. The two EOCs cite concerns over duplicated bands. What’s more, another journal recently decided to retract one of his papers, citing figures that didn’t represent the results of the experiments.

PNAS chose to issue EOCs, rather than retractions or corrections, because the authors didn’t agree that the bands were duplicated, according to executive editor Diane Sullenberger. She explained how the journal learned of the issues with the two papers: Read the rest of this entry »

German funder bans researcher for five years following misconduct probe

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A researcher in Germany has been banned from seeking money from the largest independent research funder in the country for five years after an investigation by her former employer found her guilty of misconduct.

According to a recent announcement from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), scientist Tina Wenz cannot apply for any DFG funding for five years, after a probe by the University of Cologne in Germany concluded she should retract six papers over misconduct.

A spokesperson for the DFG told us the agency funds more than 30,000 projects per year, and since 1998, has announced a ban due to data manipulation or misconduct only 10 times.

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Written by Alison McCook

April 3rd, 2017 at 8:36 am

Two researchers guilty of misconduct, says university investigation

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Suchitra Sumitran-Holgersson

A Swedish university has concluded that two professors studying tissue engineering are guilty of misconduct in two published papers, including a 2012 study in The Lancet.

The two researchers are  Suchitra Sumitran-Holgersson and Michael Olausson, both based at the University of Gothenburg. The university investigation — launched after several of Holgersson’s papers were questioned on PubPeer — has concluded that the researchers didn’t follow proper ethical procedures in the two papers.

Here’s a statement from a university spokesperson:

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Cancer org bestows award on scientist under investigation

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Carlo Croce

This month hasn’t been all bad for Carlo Croce. Despite issuing two corrections and being the subject of a lengthy New York Times article about how he’s dodged misconduct accusations for years (prompting his institution to re-open an investigation), Croce is now the recipient of a prestigious award from the American Association for Cancer Research.

In a recent news release, the AACR announced it was bestowing Croce the 11th Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research, named after the CEO of the AACR, for his work in the field.

According to the news release:

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Research misconduct finding — which university won’t discuss — leads to second retraction for prominent physicist

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A rising star in nanotechnology, Dmitri Lapotko, has received his second retraction within a month over “a finding of research misconduct” that the university will apparently only disclose on a need-to-know basis.

According to the notice, the journal’s editor and publisher issued the retraction after Lapotko’s former institution—Rice University in Houston—notified them of research misconduct and cited figure duplication issues, which meant the results “should not be relied upon and may be scientifically unsound.”

We recently covered the Belarusian physicist’s first retraction in the journal Theranostics, in which an official at Rice would not confirm a misconduct inquiry, telling us that, “Rice University’s investigations of research misconduct are confidential.”

This time, however, the retraction notice explicitly states that a Rice University research integrity officer reported research misconduct to the journal Applied Physics Letters (APL). We contacted the official, B.J. Almond, who still stuck to the original script: Read the rest of this entry »

“It’s been three tough years:” Macchiarini whistleblower cleared of previous charges

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Karl-Henrik Grinnemo

Karl-Henrik Grinnemo was worried. The doctor and clinical researcher at the Karolinska Institute was working with a high-profile surgeon who was performing a potentially life-saving procedure on patients, but Grinnemo saw that the patients weren’t doing very well. So in 2013, Grinnemo and three other doctors raised concerns about the work of Paolo Macchiarini. The surgeon initially fought back, and accused Grinnemo of misconduct. KI sided with the star surgeon, and found Grinnemo guilty of “carelessness” in a grant application to the Swedish Research Council, including plagiarism. Readers should by now know how the story ends – Macchiarini’s work has since been largely discredited. Recently, to clear his name, Grinnemo asked authorities to take a second look at his case – and he has been exonerated. We talked to him about the last few tumultuous years. 

Retraction Watch: How does the story begin?

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Written by Alison McCook

March 24th, 2017 at 11:30 am

President of Taiwan university to step down amidst investigation

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Pan-Chyr Yang

The president of a top university in Taiwan has announced he will resign from his post at the end of his first term in June.

President Pan-chyr Yang of National Taiwan University (NTU) has opted not to seek a second term as president given two recent investigations — one which concluded last month and one which is ongoing — into allegations of misconduct in papers he co-authored.

Despite being cleared of misconduct in the investigation conducted by his university, Yang felt that the scandal had left a stain on NTU’s reputation, which he hoped to restore by stepping down as president. Here’s more from Focus Taiwan: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

March 22nd, 2017 at 11:30 am