Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘misconduct investigations’ Category

Recent finding of misconduct by federal U.S. agency sparks debate

with 13 comments

Nasser Chegini

In 2011, the University of Florida assembled a misconduct report about one of its ob-gyn researchers, identifying falsified data in a 2010 paper. But when an investigator at the U.S. Office of Research Integrity reviewed the report, something didn’t feel right.

“I reviewed the data, and I thought [UF] didn’t do their due diligence,” said Kristen Grace, then an ORI investigator, now heading up the compliance department of the Office of Clinical Research at the University of Pennsylvania. “Because the extent of the the falsification was so great.”

So the ORI asked the UF to re-open its investigation, expanding it to include previous years of work by Nasser Chegini, now retired. The institution also hired a new director of research compliance, who oversaw the second investigation. That report, completed in October 2013, was significantly more extensive — it documented intentional falsifications or fabrications in nine papers published between 2003-2008. (Through a public records request, we obtained a copy of this second report, which you can read in full here.) But last month, the ORI issued a finding of misconduct against Chegini that focused on only one paper; the agency said it chose to take a “targeted approach,” since eight of the nine papers had already been retracted.  

The move has prompted a debate — while some argue it’s a pragmatic use of ORI’s limited resources, others (including Grace) are concerned:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

August 17th, 2017 at 11:13 am

Researcher who shot dean after being fired for misconduct sentenced to 28 years in prison

with 4 comments

Hengjun Chao. Credit: Westchester County DA

A former researcher at Mount Sinai’s medical school has been sentenced to 28 years in prison for shooting the dean that fired him.

On the morning of Aug. 29, 2016, Chao, 50, attacked Dennis Charney, dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, with a shotgun outside a deli in suburban New York. In 2010, Charney fired Chao for scientific misconduct. Charney survived the shot, but was hospitalized for five days.

As reported by the Chappaqua-Mount Kisco Patch yesterday, Judge Barry Warhit sentenced Hengjun Chao to 23 years, each, for attempted murder and assault, to be served concurrently; the maximum sentence for the attempted murder charge that Chao faced was 25 years. The judge also sentenced Chao to the maximum for criminal use of a firearm — five years — which will be served consecutively, bringing the total to 28 years.

In June, a New York jury found him guilty of attempted murder and the two other felony charges.

Stewart Orden, Chao’s defense attorney, told Retraction Watch he was “shocked at the sentence:” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Andrew P. Han

August 10th, 2017 at 12:13 pm

Third retraction for former rising star found guilty of misconduct

with 7 comments

A once-prominent researcher in the field of infectious disease — who was found guilty of misconduct last year— has had a third paper retracted, a 2006 article in PNAS.

Last year, the University of Dundee in Scotland found that Robert Ryan had committed research misconduct, which included misrepresenting clinical data and duplicating images in a dozen different publications. After a failed attempt to appeal the decision, Ryan resigned.

In April, we covered Ryan’s first two retractions – a 2012 paper in Molecular Microbiology, which cited image errors, and a 2011 paper in Journal of Bacteriology, which cited image duplication.

Now, PNAS has retracted a 2006 paper, which cites potential image duplication as well as “irregularities” in the data.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Cell–cell signaling in Xanthomonas campestris involves an HD-GYP domain protein that functions in cyclic di-GMP turnover:”

Read the rest of this entry »

“The article must be retracted:” Journal pulls prostate cancer study

with 2 comments

A 2016 paper exploring the biology of prostate cancer has been retracted due to figure manipulation.

According to the retraction notice, a reader contacted the journal Clinical Cancer Research in late 2016 with concerns that similar bands appeared multiple times in two images. The editors asked the paper’s corresponding author, Shahriar Koochekpour, about the issue and requested the raw data for the figures. But Koochekpour, based in the Departments of Cancer Genetics and Urology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, at the time of the study, could not locate the raw data.

Since the lab did not have raw data from such a relatively recent paper, the editors reached out to the research integrity officer at Roswell Park Cancer Institute to investigate. Indeed,  the research integrity officer contacted confirmed that two figures were problematic, and requested the paper be retracted.

Here’s the rather detailed retraction notice, published in July 2017, for “GRM1 is An Androgen-Regulated Gene and its Expression Correlates with Prostate Cancer Progression in Pre-Clinical Models:” Read the rest of this entry »

Publisher won’t retract two papers, despite university’s request

without comments

Jens Förster

Jens Förster, a high-profile social psychologist, has agreed to retract multiple papers following an institutional investigation — but has also fought to keep some papers intact. Recently, one publisher agreed with his appeal, and announced it would not retract two of his papers, despite the recommendation of his former employer.

Last month, the American Psychological Association (APA) announced it would not retract two papers co-authored by Förster, which the University of Amsterdam had recommended for retraction in May, 2015. The APA had followed the university’s advice last year and retracted two other papers, which Förster had agreed to as part of a settlement with the German Society for Psychology (DGPs). But after multiple appeals by Förster and his co-authors, the publisher has decided to retain the papers as part of the scientific record.

Many voices contributed to the discussion about these two papers — in November, 2016, the University of Amsterdam announced it was rejecting the appeal by another co-author on both papers, Nira Liberman, based at Tel Aviv University in Israel. The following month, Tel Aviv University announced that it believed the articles should not be retracted, based on its own internal review.

The APA reviewed the various recommendations, according to last month’s announcement:

Read the rest of this entry »

After investigation that started at least 5 years ago, retired ob-gyn prof agrees to 5 years of supervision

with 8 comments

Nasser Chegini

A now-retired professor tweaked the findings in seven figures of a 2007 paper, according to a new finding of misconduct released yesterday by the U.S. Office of Research Integrity.

The subject of the findings isn’t a stranger to our readers: We’ve already reported on nine retractions for Nasser Chegini, a former professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Florida (UF) who had won more than $4 million in Federal grants. And Chegini, who retired in early 2012, had been under investigation since at least 2012, with the ORI asking UF to broaden that investigation at one point.

Indeed, the ORI’s notice states that eight of Chegini’s retractions resulted from the UF’s investigation. The ORI’s findings, however, stem from another paper, published in the Journal of Reproductive Immunology, which has not been retracted.

According to the ORI, in that paper, Chegini:

Read the rest of this entry »

Why did a university pay a scientist found guilty of misconduct $100,000?

with 6 comments

Azza B. El-Remessy

Retraction Watch readers may remember a few posts about Azza El-Remessy, an eye researcher based at the University of Georgia (UGA) who had several papers retracted. One of the retraction notices explained that UGA found El-Remessy had “committed research misconduct by falsification or fabrication.”

Today, we have an update on the story in Science. As our Victoria Stern writes: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

July 31st, 2017 at 1:53 pm

Nearly 500 researchers guilty of misconduct, says Chinese gov’t investigation

with 2 comments

Four hundred eighty-six authors have been found guilty of misconduct by the Chinese government, the fall-out from a sweep of retractions by one journal earlier this year.

In April, Tumor Biology retracted 107 papers that had been accepted based on faked reviews. Since many of the authors were based in China, the country’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) launched an investigation. On Friday, the news outlet Xinhua reported the results of the government’s investigation:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

July 31st, 2017 at 11:24 am

Toronto wife-husband research team lose bid to re-open labs

with 23 comments

Shereen Ezzat. Source: University Health Network

Sylvia Asa. Source: University of Toronto

A pair of Canadian scientists may be running out of options to save their laboratories, which have been permanently closed based on findings of research misconduct.

Sylvia Asa, once the head of the largest hospital diagnostic laboratory in Canada, and her husband and collaborator Shereen Ezzat, have spent almost five years fighting allegations of research misconduct involving data falsification and fabrication in more than a dozen published papers. The couple’s work has been scrutinized by their employer, University Health Network (UHN), a healthcare system affiliated with the University of Toronto, in two investigations. The investigations did not find evidence that Asa or Ezzat were directly involved in image falsification or fabrication; however, they concluded that, as supervisors, they failed to conform to accepted standards and practices as they related to scientific rigor and accountability.

After the first investigation, UHN decided to temporarily close both Asa and Ezzat’s labs. After the second, the UHN decided to make that closure permanent. The couple have had three papers retracted and at least one correction.

Recently, the pair faced yet another setback. After they asked an Ontario court to review two of UHN’s decisions, on July 13, a judge found no fault with either one. Justice Ian Nordheimer, one of three judges who considered Asa and Ezzat’s request, said in his written opinion Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Andrew P. Han

July 28th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Uni dings schizophrenia studies for problems with informed consent, other flaws

without comments

Psychiatry journals have retracted two papers evaluating a schizophrenia drug after a university in Japan flagged issues, such as a lack of written informed consent.

The papers—published in Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical & Experimental in 2012 and Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences in 2014—examined the safety and effectiveness of an antipsychotic drug in patients with schizophrenia.

According to the retraction notice in Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, the ethics committee at St. Marianna University School of Medicine in Kawasaki found that “the trial included subjects who did not satisfy inclusion criteria.” For instance, not all patients provided written informed consent. But the university found no evidence for data falsification or fabrication.

A spokesperson for Human Psychopharmacology told us: Read the rest of this entry »