Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘molecular biology’ Category

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 In April 2016, another paper was retracted by Cell Reports; the third, also published in Development, received a correction.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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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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Author duplicated a figure in three papers; two get retracted

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Two journals have retracted two papers by the same group within months of each other, after editors were independently tipped off that they contained duplicated figures representing different experiments.

The two papers were published by PLOS ONE and The Egyptian Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (EJBMB) in 2015 and 2014, respectively. According to the PLOS ONE paper’s corresponding author, last author Saad A. Noeman from Tanta University in Egypt used the same Figure 1 in both papers, along with another 2013 paper in EJBMB.

Corresponding author Yasser S. El-Sayed, head of the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology at Damanhour University in Egypt, told us he learned of this issue after a reader brought the figure manipulation and duplication concerns to PLOS ONE’s attention.

El-Sayed said that he tried to figure out what had happened.

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Scientist who sued university earns two more retractions, bringing total to five

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A scientist who sued his employer for millions of dollars has earned two more retractions, for papers that had already been flagged by the journal.

By our count, Rakesh Kumar now has five retractions and multiple corrections.

Kumar sued his employer, George Washington University, for $8 million, alleging emotional distress when they put him on leave from his position as department chair following a finding of misconduct. That suit was settled last year, for undisclosed terms.

The two newest retractions in the Journal of Biological Chemistry — which tagged the papers with Expressions of Concern last year — both state that, according to Kumar, the problematic figures were assembled by “specific co-authors” — unnamed — in his lab. Here’s the first notice:

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Two more retractions for stem cell researcher appealing her dismissal

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Susana Gonzalez

Susana Gonzalez, a rising star in stem cell research, has had a rough year.

In addition to being fired from her former research institute (which she is now appealing), one of her grants (totaling nearly 2 million Euros) was suspended. Most recently, she has received two new retractions in Nature Communications over figure duplications and missing raw data. By our count, she has a total of three retractions.

Both of the new notices say the papers contained figures duplicated in other papers by Gonzalez, and neither includes Gonzalez among the list of co-authors who agreed to the retraction.

Gonzalez was dismissed from her position at the National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) in Spain last February over allegations of misconduct. According to the head of basic research at CNIC, Gonzalez is still embroiled in a legal battle with the Center over her dismissal. Vicente Andrés could not go into detail because of the ongoing litigation, but he told us: 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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