Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘cancer biology’ Category

Would-be Johns Hopkins whistleblower loses appeal in case involving Nature retraction

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A former researcher at Johns Hopkins who voiced concerns about a now-retracted paper in Nature has lost another bid for whistleblower protection.

Daniel Yuan, a longtime statistician for former Hopkins yeast geneticist Jef Boeke, was dismissed in 2011, after he’d spent years raising concerns about research coming out of the lab. Yuan’s criticisms, which continued after he stopped working for Boeke, peaked in 2012 after Boeke and former labmate Yu-li Lin published paper in Nature. Later that year, Lin was found dead in his lab, a suspected suicide. In 2013, the paper was retracted, citing an inability to reproduce the main conclusions. 

Since 2013, Yuan has pursued a wrongful termination lawsuit, claiming that federal regulations surrounding scientific misconduct afforded him protection from retaliation.

In late March, Maryland’s highest court ruled against Yuan, saying that those misconduct regulations are “too vague” to offer cover to employees claiming whistleblower protection. According to lawyers we consulted, the decision could make it harder for would-be whistleblowers to fight retaliation, while also giving institutions more leeway to handle these issues on their own.

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Written by Andrew P. Han

May 25th, 2017 at 11:50 am

Paper by Harvard cancer biologist flagged over “credible concerns”

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A cancer biologist at Harvard who’s issued multiple editorial notices in recent years has received an expression of concern about a 2011 paper, citing “credible concerns” with the data and conclusions.

The publisher does not detail the nature of the issues in the notice.

In the past few years, last author Sam W. Lee lost a Molecular Cell paper in 2013 due to figure duplication and a Journal of Biological Chemistry paper in 2015, citing “manipulated” data in a figure.

Lee also issued two mega-corrections in 2011 in Nature and Current Biology, which also cited figure duplication. Interestingly, both papers were corrected for a second time — the 2006 Current Biology paper in 2016, over figure-related errors, and the 2011 Nature paper in 2015, over concerns the animals used may have experienced excess suffering (prompting an editorial from the journal).

The latest notice, issued by the Journal of Biological Chemistry, doesn’t provide much information for the basis of its expression of concern over Lee’s 2011 paper: Read the rest of this entry »

Former UCLA vice-chancellor loses cancer paper for image manipulation

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The former vice chancellor for research at the University of California, Los Angeles, has retracted a 2012 paper after an internal investigation found evidence of image manipulation.

The journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics received a letter about the problems with the paper from the UCLA Research Integrity Officer, and a retraction request from last author James Economou, also the chief of surgical oncology.

According to the notice, the paper duplicated images from a 2011 paper also by first author Ali Jazirehi, based at UCLA. This is Jazirehi’s second retraction.

Here’s more from the notice:

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A university asked for numerous retractions. Eight months later, three journals have done nothing.

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Anil Jaiswal

When journals learn papers are problematic, how long does it take them to act?

We recently had a chance to find out as part of our continuing coverage of the case of Anil Jaiswal at the University of Maryland, who’s retracted 15 papers (including two new ones we recently identified), and has transitioned out of cancer research. Here’s what happened.

As part of a public records request related to the investigation, we received letters that the University of Maryland sent to 11 journals regarding 26 “compromised” papers co-authored by Jaiswal, four of which had been retracted by the time of the letter. The letters were dated between August and September 2016 (and one in February) — although, in some cases, the journals told us they received the letter later. Since that date, three journals have retracted nine papers and corrected another, waiting between four and six months to take action. One journal published an editorial note of concern within approximately two months after the university letter.

And six journals have not taken any public action.

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A new record: Major publisher retracting more than 100 studies from cancer journal over fake peer reviews

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Springer is retracting 107 papers from one journal after discovering they had been accepted with fake peer reviews. Yes, 107.

To submit a fake review, someone (often the author of a paper) either makes up an outside expert to review the paper, or suggests a real researcher — and in both cases, provides a fake email address that comes back to someone who will invariably give the paper a glowing review. In this case, Springer, the publisher of Tumor Biology through 2016, told us that an investigation produced “clear evidence” the reviews were submitted under the names of real researchers with faked emails. Some of the authors may have used a third-party editing service, which may have supplied the reviews. The journal is now published by SAGE.

The retractions follow another sweep by the publisher last year, when Tumor Biology retracted 25 papers for compromised review and other issues, mostly authored by researchers based in Iran. With the latest bunch of retractions, the journal has now retracted the most papers of any other journal indexed by Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters. In 2015, its impact factor — 2.9 — ranked it 104th out of 213 oncology journals.

Here’s more from Springer’s official statement, out today:

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Written by Alison McCook

April 20th, 2017 at 9:00 am

Fired Pfizer cancer researcher loses final two of five papers pegged for retraction

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PLOS ONE has retracted the last of five papers by a former employee of Pfizer, who the company fired after determining she had duplicated data.

After its investigation, Pfizer asked journals to retract five papers co-authored by Min-Jean Yin. Last week, PLOS ONE retracted the final two remaining papers. Both notices cite image duplications; Yin contacted the journal about one paper, but did not comment on the other retraction.

Here’s the notice for “miR-221 Promotes Tumorigenesis in Human Triple Negative Breast Cancer Cells:”

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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 »

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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Another correction for prominent cancer researcher who’s dodged accusations for decades

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The chair of a biology department who has faced years of misconduct accusations has taken another hit—a lengthy correction due to text “overlap” between one of his PNAS papers and six other articles.

According to the correction, a reader contacted the journal to notify the editors that text and sentences in multiple sections of the 2015 paper — on which Carlo Croce is last author — were lifted from other sources without quotation marks.

This is the second correction for Croce in PNAS regarding overlap issues in just the last few weeks—the first was published on March 7 (see here). In both instances, PNAS did not call the textual similarities plagiarism, but the notice details multiple instances of overlap.

Croce, the chair of the department of cancer biology and genetics at The Ohio State University (OSU), is no stranger to controversy.

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Written by Victoria Stern

March 15th, 2017 at 11:30 am

Huh? Cancer paper gets retracted because of its correction

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Here’s a rather odd case: When readers raised issues about some of the images in a 2008 cancer paper, the authors issued a correction last year. But when readers asked additional questions about the corrected images, the authors decided to retract the paper entirely, along with its correction.

Both the original and corrected versions were questioned on PubPeer.

Here’s the retraction notice for the 2008 article “PRIMA-1MET induces mitochondrial apoptosis through activation of caspase-2,” published in Oncogene, which includes a link to the July 2016 correction: Read the rest of this entry »