Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘genetics retractions’ Category

Journal retracts paper eight months after U.S. Feds announce findings of misconduct

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In August, the U.S. Office of Research Integrity announced that a former postdoctoral fellow at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) doctored data in two published papers.

It took one journal a little longer than five months to remove the researcher’s name from the co-author list, and replace one figure.

It took the second journal more than eight months to retract the paper.

Here’s the notice for “A BLOC-1 Mutation Screen Reveals that PLDN Is Mutated in Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome Type 9,” published by the American Journal of Human Genetics (AJHG):

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Journal flags paper about GMO foods over concerns about figures

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A journal has flagged a paper by a researcher who has questioned the safety of genetically modified organisms, after receiving concerns that there were issues with some images.

In the 2006 paper, researchers led by Federico Infascelli, an animal nutrition researcher at the University of Naples, tested the blood of rabbits fed genetically modified soybeans. Starting in November 2015, however, the journal animal fielded concerns that gels appeared manipulated, and a figure legend differed from that in a thesis associated with the research.

This isn’t the first notice issued for Infascelli’s controversial work, which has been under scrutiny in recent years, including by Italian senator and biologist Elena Cattaneo. Last year, he was formally reprimanded by the University of Naples for including manipulated data in three papers.

Although the University of Naples concluded the image manipulations were “not a breach of scientific integrity,” the journal has issued a lengthy expression of concern about the paper:

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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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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 »

15-year old paper pulled for image problems

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A group of researchers in France has been forced to retract their 2002 article in the Journal of Virology after learning that the paper was marred by multiple image problems.

The paper, “P0 of Beet Western Yellows Virus Is a Suppressor of Posttranscriptional Gene Silencing,” came from the lab of Veronique Ziegler-Graff, a plant biologist at the University Louis Pasteur, in Strasbourg. The authors attribute some of the image problems to “genuine mounting mistakes,” and have repeated the experiments to confirm the conclusion, as have other labs. However, the researchers couldn’t find all the original data from the 2002 paper.

Although the retraction statement points the finger at the first author, Sebastien Pfeffer, the list of contributors includes Patrice Dunoyer, a frequent collaborator of Olivier Voinnet, a high-profile plant biologist whose work has come under intense scrutiny.

According to the lengthy notice:
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Unexplained abnormalities in stem cells prompt Columbia researchers to pull diabetes paper

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Researchers at Columbia University have retracted a 2013 paper in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, after uncovering abnormalities in the stem cell lines that undermined the conclusions in the paper.

Last year, corresponding author Dieter Egli discovered he could not reproduce key data in the 2013 paper because almost all the cell lines first author Haiqing Hua used contained abnormalities, casting doubt on the overall findings. When Egli reached out to Hua for answers, Hua could not explain the abnormalities. As a result, Hua and Egli agreed the paper should be retracted.

Since some of the details of how the paper ended up relying on abnormal cells remain unclear, the university confirmed to us that it is investigating the matter.

Here’s the retraction notice for “iPSC-derived β cells model diabetes due to glucokinase deficiency,” cited 42 times: Read the rest of this entry »

Plant biologist loses three papers that made up a duplication ring

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A biologist in India has lost three papers that appear to have been part of a network of duplications.

One paper published in 2012 was retracted — at the researcher’s request — for copying from a 2010 paper of his. In turn, both papers were duplicated in a paper that was published in 2016, and retracted a few months later. That 2016 paper borrowed from another paper published last year, which was quickly retracted after we contacted the journal.

These papers — by Dilip Kumar Das, listed at T. M. Bhagalpur University in India — were flagged in March by a PubPeer commenter.

In December, Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture (PCTOC) retracted Das’s 2012 paper; here’s the retraction notice:

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Surgery chair who blamed image issues on software logs three more retractions

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A researcher who claimed image problems in a retracted paper were the result of a software glitch, and not intentional, has lost three more papers — all for image manipulation.

In two notices, the Journal of Biological Chemistry specifies that duplicated images were used to represent different experimental conditions; one notice simply says the paper was affected by image manipulation.

All of the notices specify the papers are being retracted by the publisher, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology — which this month published a set of recommendations for preparing a paper, including how to avoid excessive manipulation.

The papers were published between 2002 and 2010, and all share the same last author (Paul Kuo, currently chair of surgery at Loyola Medicine) and first author (Hongtao Guo, at Duke).

Here’s the first notice:

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What turned a cancer researcher into a literature watchdog?

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Jennifer Byrne

Sometime in the middle of 2015, Jennifer Byrne, professor of molecular oncology at the University of Sydney, began her journey from cancer researcher to a scientific literature sleuth, seeking out potentially problematic papers.

The first step was when she noticed several papers that contained a mistake in a DNA construct which, she believed, meant the papers were not testing the gene in question, associated with multiple cancer types.  She started a writing campaign to the journal editors and researchers, with mixed success. But less than two years later, two of the five papers she flagged have already been retracted.

When asked why she spent time away from bench research to examine this issue, Byrne told us:  Read the rest of this entry »

Journal cleans the house by retracting 6 cancer papers for plagiarism

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Following an investigation, a genetics journal has pulled six cancer papers published this year for plagiarizing from other sources.

According to an excerpt from the retraction notice in Genetics and Molecular Research, the journal has “strong reason to believe that the peer review process was [a] failure,” and has alerted the authors’ institutions.

The notice announcing the retraction of all six papers begins: Read the rest of this entry »