Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘molecular biology’ Category

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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“Knowledgeable informant” outs researchers for falsifying data

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A pathology journal has retracted a 2015 paper from researchers in China after concluding the authors had falsified and copied some of the data and text.

According to the notice, a “knowledgeable informant” told the journal about the overlap and “fraudulent” aspects of the paper, which the editors were able to confirm. The journal retracted the paper last month.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Genistein attenuates glucocorticoid-induced bone deleterious effects through regulation Eph/ephrin expression in aged mice:”

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3rd retraction appears for fired Pfizer breast cancer researcher

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Pfizer has retracted a paper by a former employee who was fired after the company discovered she had been doctoring data.

The retraction, in Molecular Cancer Research, is the third of five papers Pfizer asked to retract, after an investigation discovered they contained duplicated images. The papers have been discussed on PubPeer, which is also mentioned in the latest retraction notice.

As a result of the investigation, Pfizer terminated the employment of Min-Jean Yin, the last author on the newly retracted paper.

According to the notice, Yin and five of her co-authors agreed to the retraction:

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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 »

Cancer biologist stops research as his retraction count rises to 13

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Anil Jaiswal

A cancer biologist based at the University of Maryland is transitioning out of research, as a journal has retracted three more of his papers.

Anil Jaiswal has now lost 13 papers, including, as we reported on February 6, six retractions issued earlier this month.

The Baltimore Sun reported this week that Jaiswal would no longer be conducting research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, which we confirmed from a spokesperson:

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