Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘misconduct investigations’ Category

Karolinska vice-chancellor resigns following criticism of Macchiarini investigation

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Anders Hamsten

Anders Hamsten

Anders Hamsten announced he would be resigning as vice-chancellor from Karolinska Institutet (KI) in the early hours of Saturday, February 13.

In a press release we received at 12:16 a.m. local time in Stockholm, Hamsten issued the following statement:

Following the criticism on the so called Macchiarini affair at KI I conclude it will be hard for me to serve as Vice-Chancellor with the strength and credibility this university needs. I will therefore leave office.

Good thing we published a primer on the whole story a few hours ago. To recap: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

February 12th, 2016 at 7:00 pm

Reading about embattled trachea surgeon Paolo Macchiarini? Here’s what you need to know

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Paolo Macchiarini

Paolo Macchiarini

The media has been abuzz in the last few weeks with developments in the ongoing story about “super surgeon” Paolo Macchiarini. We’ve been covering the allegations against him for years (and invited him to publish a guest post on our site). Below, we present a timeline of recent events, to keep you abreast of what we know so far.

Macchiarini was famous long before accusations of misconduct arose, once-heralded for creating tracheas from cadavers and patients’ own stem cells. However, the glow of his success was diminished somewhat after some Karolinska Institutet (KI) surgeons filed a complaint in 2014 — alleging, for instance, Macchiarini had downplayed the risks of the procedure and not obtained proper consent. In response, KI issued an external review by Bengt Gerdin of Uppsala University.

Here’s what’s happened since: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

February 12th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

After 10 years, a whistleblower is vindicated. Here’s why he kept going.

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Stefan Franzen

Stefan Franzen

Stefan Franzen doesn’t give up. Ten years ago, he began to suspect the data behind his colleagues’ research about using RNA to make palladium nanoparticles, a potentially valuable tool that ended up as a Science paper. Recently, the National Science Foundation (NSF) decided to cut off funding for Bruce Eaton and Dan Feldheim — currently at the University of Colorado at Boulder — and last week, Science retracted the paper. We talked to Franzen, based at North Carolina State University (NCSU), about his decade-long efforts, and how it feels to be finally vindicated.

Retraction Watch: How did you first begin to suspect the findings by Eaton and Feldheim?

Stefan Franzen: Starting in early 2005, I was collaborating with Drs. Eaton and Feldheim at NCSU, thanks to two joint grants from the W.M. Keck Foundation and NSF. During a group meeting in December of 2005, a graduate student showed electron microscopy data that were inconsistent with the assignment of the particles as palladium. Over time, we kept producing more data that called their findings into question; in April 2006, a postdoc showed that the hexagonal particles could be obtained without RNA. By then, I could see that there was a significant discrepancy between what was written in the articles and what was done and observed in the laboratory.

RW: How did you report your concerns?

Read the rest of this entry »

Sparks fly in Finland over misconduct investigation

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JEMResearchers in Finland are criticizing an investigation by VTT Technical Research Centre into one of its scientists.

The investigation followed allegations about the VTT’s plasma and serum metabolomics (QBIX) group, previously led by Matej Orešič (who is now based at the Steno Diabetes Center in Gentofte, Denmark) and Tuulia Hyötyläinen. Kai Simons, who conducted an earlier investigation of the group, and the Chancellor Emeritus at the University of Helsinki, have criticized VTT, saying it cut corners in its investigation.

VTT found no evidence of data tampering or falsification in a 2008 paper co-authored by Orešič in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, but said the paper — which has not been corrected or retracted — included some “exaggerated conclusions.” In turn, Orešič and Hyötyläinen filed a complaint for “an alleged violation of good scientific practice” by Simons during the initial investigation. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

February 9th, 2016 at 2:45 pm

Chemist sues University of Texas (again) to keep PhD

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Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 4.34.25 PMA chemist is suing the University of Texas a second time in an effort to keep the PhD she earned in 2008.

In 2014, school officials revoked Suvi Orr‘s degree after finding it was based, in part, on falsified data. Some of the data were also included in a paper in Organic Letters that was retracted in 2011 after some steps in the chemical synthesis the authors described were not reproducible. Orr, currently working at Pfizer, sued UT, and the school reinstated her degree.

Now, the school is trying to remove it again, according to the lawsuit, filed last week. The lawsuit says the school has scheduled a “hearing” on March 4, during which three undergraduate students and two faculty members will deliberate — “none of whom are qualified to evaluate the scientific evidence being used against S.O.,” the suit says.

Orr has requested a temporary injunction to halt the proceedings, and a hearing has been scheduled for next week, according to the Austin-American Statesman.

The suit argues the school does not have the right to strip Orr’s degree from her: Read the rest of this entry »

Investigation prompts 5th retraction for cancer researcher for “unresolvable concerns”

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3.coverAn investigation at the University of New South Wales in Australia has led to a fifth retraction for a cancer researcher long accused of misconduct, due to “unresolvable concerns” with some images.

As we reported in December, UNSW cleared Levon Khachigian of misconduct, concluding that his previous issues stemmed from “genuine error or honest oversight.” Now, Circulation Research is retracting one of his papers after an investigation commissioned by UNSW was unable to find electronic records for two similar images from a 2009 paper, nor records of the images in original lab books.

Again, the retraction note affirms that this is not a sign of misconduct:

UNSW has not attributed any instance of research misconduct or responsibility for the unavailability of the original data to Professor Khachigian or to any of the authors of the publication.

Here’s the retraction note in full for “Angiotensin II-Inducible Smooth Muscle Cell Apoptosis Involves the Angiotensin II Type 2 Receptor, GATA-6 Activation, and FasL-Fas Engagement:” Read the rest of this entry »

Karolinska orders new investigation of trachea surgeon Macchiarini

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Paolo Macchiarini

Paolo Macchiarini

The Karolinska Institutet University Board announced today it was issuing a new external investigation of trachea surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, looking into questions about his recruitment and the handling of previous allegations of misconduct.

According to a press release:

The University Board deems such an inquiry to be an important part of restoring the confidence of the public, the scientific community, staff and students in the university.

The board hopes to appoint the investigative team, which will not consider “matters of a medical-scientific nature,” next week. The goal is to conclude the investigation by the summer.

There were many signs this was coming:  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

February 5th, 2016 at 8:30 am

After hesitating, Science retracts chemistry paper against authors’ wishes

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F1.mediumToday, Science has retracted a 2004 paper that’s been under scrutiny for years, despite the authors’ objections.

This paper has a long backstory: Recently, a report from the National Science Foundation’s Office of Inspector General surfaced that announced the agency had cut off the authors from funding. Last month, editor Marcia McNutt told us that the journal planned to retract the paper as soon as possible. Then, on January 21st, “just as we were going to press with the retraction,” said McNutt, the authors submitted a correction, which Science wanted to take some time to consider.

Now, the paper has a retraction note, against the wishes of authors Bruce Eaton and Dan Feldheim, currently at the University of Colorado.

Here it is the retraction note:

Read the rest of this entry »

Karolinska won’t extend star surgeon Macchiarini’s contract

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Paolo Macchiarini

Karolinska Institutet announced today it would not extend the contract of star surgeon Paolo Macchiarini. He has been instructed to “phase out” his research from now until November 30.

According to a press release issued today: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

February 4th, 2016 at 11:35 am

News site The Intercept says reporter created fake quotes, sources

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interceptThe Intercept is apologizing to readers after an investigation revealed one of its reporters fabricated multiple quotes and even created a fake email address for a source to deceive his editors.

The online news site is retracting and correcting several articles by former staff writer Juan Thompson, who was employed there from November 2014 until last month.

In a note issued earlier today, editor Betsy Reed revealed some details of the results of the investigation to readers:

Read the rest of this entry »