Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘molecular biology’ Category

Former prof fudged dozens of images, says university

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On Dec. 2, 2013, Alison Lakin, the research integrity officer at the University of Colorado Denver, received a concerning email.

The emailer was alleging several problems in a 2012 paper in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, co-authored by one of its high-profile faculty members. Lakin discussed the allegations with some administrators and agreed they had merit; Lakin sequestered an author’s laptop and other materials. Over the next few months, the university learned of additional allegations affecting other papers — and discovered even more serious problems in the JCI paper. Namely, the first author had inserted changes to 21 figures in the paper after submitting it, without alerting the other authors, journal, or reviewers.

That journal retracted the paper this month, citing numerous problems:

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Author of retracted gene editing paper alleges “bullying” by former PI

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In the fall of 2015, out-of-work stem cell biologist Mavi Camarasa decided she had waited long enough. It had been three years since she and a colleague were, best they could tell, the first to successfully correct the most common cystic fibrosis mutation in stem cells derived from a patient.

But her former lab director, Daniel Bachiller, had blocked her from writing even a short report, she told Retraction Watch:

He said we are not submitting at this time, wait until [the project is] complete. “Wait, wait,” is the only answer I’d had from him ever.

Though she’d left the Spanish regenerative medicine lab in 2013 to take care of an ailing parent and had mostly been scooped by another group in April of that year, Camarasa thought she still might be able to get something out of the project. She hatched a plan to make him an offer he couldn’t refuse — an already accepted manuscript where all he would have to do is attach his name at the last minute.

But this story didn’t turn out exactly how she’d hoped — and illustrates how the pressure to publish can affect researchers at different levels in the lab.

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Journal won’t look at allegations about papers more than six years old, nor comment on those from “public websites”

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After a paper is published, how long should a journal consider allegations of misconduct? For one journal, that answer is: Six years.

We see plenty of journals that retract papers at least 10 years old over concerns regarding misconduct, but in a recent editorial, Molecular and Cellular Biology announced it would pursue allegations made within six years after a paper is published. This rule mirrors federal regulations (which apply to the U.S. Office of Research Integrity), which also decline to investigate allegations if at least six years have passed since the incident supposedly occurred — but with some exceptions, such as if the misconduct could have an impact on public health.

Incidentally, the same issue of the journal includes a retraction notice for a paper published seven years ago, citing image duplications. A spokesperson for the American Society for Microbiology (which publishes the journal) told us the journal investigated the paper in 2016, within the cutoff period.

Here’s the key text from the editorial:

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“Data had been manipulated:” Science Translational Medicine retracts paper

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Science Translational Medicine has retracted a paper by researchers based in Switzerland, after an investigation concluded two figures had been manipulated.

The investigation occurred at the University of Basel. It’s not clear what prompted it, but the paper has been discussed at length on PubPeer. After the investigation concluded two figure panels included manipulated data, the last author asked to retract the paper.

Here’s the notice:

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Researcher who sued to prevent retractions now has 12

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A diabetes researcher who once sued a publisher to prevent several retractions has just issued his 12th.

The latest retraction, like several others for Mario Saad, appears in the journal Diabetes. Although in the past Saad expended considerable effort to protect four other Diabetes papers from this same fate, the latest retraction was initiated by the authors, citing several duplicated images. The American Diabetes Association had flagged the 2009 paper with an expression of concern earlier this year.

In 2015, Saad brought a lawsuit against the ADA, claiming that it “wrongfully published” four expressions of concerns in its flagship journal Diabetes, in an attempt to prevent the papers from being retracted. He lost, and the papers were retracted in 2016.

The lawsuit also did nothing to deter the ADA from flagging other potentially problematic papers with expressions of concerns, including the latest 2009 Diabetes paper, on which Saad is last and corresponding author.  Read the rest of this entry »

Author objects to retraction after he says journal ignored his queries for three years

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In 2014, a journal contacted researcher Denis Rousseau about one of his papers that had just been published online ahead of print, raising some concerns. According to Rousseau, he sent the journal a corrected figure “almost immediately,” which he believed addressed the issue.

Rousseau, a cell biologist at the University Joseph Fourier in Grenoble, France, said he then contacted the journal many times over the next three years to ask about the status of the paper — which never ended up in print — but heard nothing back.

Three years passed.

In March, the publisher finally contacted Rousseau, this time to ask him to issue a formal retraction for the paper. And despite his objections, Molecular and Cellular Biology published a sparse retraction notice, which provides little information about what went wrong:

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Harvard teaching hospital to pay $10 million to settle research misconduct allegations

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Piero Anversa

Brigham and Women’s Hospital and its parent healthcare network have agreed to pay $10 million to the U.S. government to resolve allegations it fraudulently obtained federal funding.

The case, which involves three former Harvard stem cell researchers, dates back several years. In 2014, Circulation retracted a paper by Piero Anversa, Annarosa Leri, and Jan Kajstura, among others, amidst a university investigation into misconduct allegations. Anversa and Leri — whose lab was described as filled with “fear” by one former research fellow — later sued the hospital for notifying journals of that investigation. They lost.

In the agreement announced today by the Department of Justice (DOJ), Partners Healthcare and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have agreed to pay the government $10 million to settle allegations that the researchers fraudulently obtained funding from the National Institutes of Health:

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Written by Alison McCook

April 27th, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Another retraction for student who confessed to cooking data

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A journal has retracted another paper by a graduate student formerly based at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, after she spontaneously confessed to fabricating data.

As we reported in April 2016, principal investigator Florence Marlow alerted the institution’s Office of Research Integrity and two journals about Meredyth Forbes’s admission, prompting an investigation into the extent of the data manipulation.

Three papers were affected: In January 2016, Development flagged one paper with an expression of concern, alerting readers to the potential issues with the data while the authors and Research Integrity Office investigated the scope of the problem. In April 2016, another paper was retracted by Cell Reports; the third, also published in Development, received a correction.

Last month, the authors and Development decided to retract the paper that had been flagged with an EOC (which appears on page 2 here).  Read the rest of this entry »

Three figures in blood pressure paper were manipulated, says journal

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A pharmacology journal has retracted a 2011 paper after concluding images in three figures had been manipulated.

According to the British Journal of Pharmacology, four of the five authors claim they played no role in the manipulation. There is no comment from the remaining author, first author Ian Morecroft, a research associate at the University of Glasgow.

Here’s more from the notice, which says an investigation at the University of Glasgow is ongoing:

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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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