Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘cell biology’ Category

Cell biologist Hanna issues two errata; images mysteriously disappear from Imgur

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Jacob Hanna

Jacob Hanna

Cell biologist Jacob Hanna, the highly cited stem cell researcher currently at the Weizmann Institute of Science,  has posted a long erratum for a 2005 paper in Blood for “inadvertent mistakes,” among other issues; soon after, Hanna’s team issued another erratum for a 2009 Cell Stem Cell paper.

There’s more to tell: Last month, commenters on PubPeer noticed that images from at least 10 of the research papers Hanna coauthored in seven journals — that commenters had posted on the image hosting website Imgur and linked to on PubPeer — had been deleted.

Imgur did not confirm whether these specific images had been deleted, but told Retraction Watch:

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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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“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

“Significant concerns” and formal investigation unwind Nature Nanotech sequencing paper

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NatureNanoFollowing “significant concerns” raised by outside researchers and a formal university investigation, a group of authors in Taiwan has retracted a Nature Nanotechnology paper on DNA sequencing after they “could not reproduce the results of the work,” or even provide “a complete set of raw data for the original experiments.”

The paper, “DNA sequencing using electrical conductance measurements of a DNA polymerase,” describes a technology to sequence single DNA molecules — a technique that the authors, all based at National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan, suggest could be used to “cheaply and quickly” sequence DNA.

Concerns about the paper’s data were first raised in May 2013 by the community, according to an editorial from the journal. Then, the journal asked the university to investigate, says “Notes on a retraction”: Read the rest of this entry »

Cell Press investigating possible image manipulation in influential yeast genetics paper

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cellCell Press is looking into anonymous allegations that a pair of influential papers on gene activation in yeast may contain more than two dozen instances of image manipulation, according to a spokesperson for the journal.

The accusations first appeared in March on PubPeer, where they triggered a small avalanche of comments, including one asserting “unambiguous and repeated examples of data re-use.”

The concerns raised on PubPeer have even sparked an investigation by an institution in Spain, which found no evidence to support the allegations. But not everyone agrees with that verdict.

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Harvard biofilm paper in Cell breaks down after challenged findings can’t be repeated

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CELL_161_4.inddResearchers at Harvard have retracted a Cell paper on biofilm disassembly after they repeated the experiment—following contradictory results from another team—and the new results “can no longer support” the original conclusions.

The 2012 paper, “A Self-Produced Trigger for Biofilm Disassembly that Targets Exopolysaccharide,” describes a factor called norspermidine, produced by the bacteria Bacillus subtilis, that appeared to break down biofilms. The researchers used it to prevent biofilm formation of B. subtilis, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus. The paper was cited 72 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Two years after it was published, a team from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and the University of Dundee in the UK contradicted the findings in another Cell publication, “Norspermidine Is Not a Self-Produced Trigger for Biofilm Disassembly.” This time, the authors concluded that norspermidine is not present in B. subtilis biofilms, and actually promotes, rather than breaks down, biofilms. They wrote: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Megan Scudellari

May 14th, 2015 at 3:15 pm

“[W]e can learn from these bad actors:” Trail of retractions follows former Vanderbilt researcher’s fraud

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JPhysiol_ak15Authors have retracted three papers from the Journal of Physiology because they contained “falsified or fabricated data.”

The papers, which address calcium signaling in heart muscle cells, are among the six pegged for retraction after an Office of Research Integrity (ORI) investigation into one of the authors, Igor Dzhura, formerly of Vanderbilt University. The ORI found that Dzhura had committed an enormous amount of fraud, involving dozens of faked images and more.

Dzhura was fired from a job at Novartis in November after the company discovered that his application had included the fraudulent work.

The three retracted Journal of Physiology papers and their citation figures, courtesy of Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge, are: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alla Katsnelson

May 14th, 2015 at 11:30 am

Author from China blames translation company for plagiarism in retracted vascular paper

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apjcpDo we need a “throwing vendors under the bus” category here at Retraction Watch?

Earlier this year, we reported on the retraction of a paper because of sloppy work by an outside lab. Now, we have the story of a retraction for “negligence” by a translator. Specifically, the author says the passages shared between the retracted 2015 vascular paper and another paper in EMBO Journal are a result of “negligence on the part of the translation company that I trusted to make my manuscript ready for submission.”

Here’s more from the notice in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, written by Yong Jiang, of Laboratory Medical College, Jilin Medical College, China: Read the rest of this entry »

Biology team with two retractions now correcting references to nixed papers

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Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 5.59.20 PMA team of biologists that retracted two papers after being “unable to replicate some of the results obtained by the first author of the paper” has now issued a correction to fix references to the two sunk publications.

The corrected paper is a review in the Journal of Virology — known there as a Gem — which discusses how viruses use the membranes of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to replicate.

The two retractions were not signed by their first author, Riccardo Bernasconi, who won the STSBC-Roche Diagnostics award for one of the papers in 2012. The correction carries all three authors’ names, including Bernasconi’s (as second author).

Here’s more from the correction for “How Viruses Hijack the ERAD Tuning Machinery”: Read the rest of this entry »

Nature retracts epigenetics paper by author who lost two Science papers last year

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cover_natureFrank Sauer, formerly of the University of California, Riverside, has had a 2002 letter on epigenetics retracted from Nature due to “inappropriate image manipulation.”

Sauer had two papers retracted from Science last year following a university investigation. Here’s the Nature notice for “Histone methylation by the Drosophila epigenetic transcriptional regulator Ash1:” Read the rest of this entry »