Update: German university investigating authors who retracted caffeine-liver fibrosis letter

Yesterday we reported on a retraction in a European liver journal involving post-acceptance shenanigans by a group of German researchers including a father and son, Axel and Olav Gressner. Well, it turns out there’s a bit more there there.

Didier Samuel, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Hepatology, where the team’s letter to the editor was retracted, tells Retraction Watch he was contacted earlier this year by the University of Aachen. The university was investigating potential misconduct by Olav Gressner. The journal launched its own inquiry, leading to the retracted letter, Samuel says.

Samuel’s journal has not pulled any other papers from the Gressners. However, the group “is not encouraged to submit to our journal” in the future, he says. Although the lab has claimed that “typewritten errors” were to blame for the alerted manuscript, Samuels says, “the editors were not convinced” of this explanation.

Greg Bologna, managing editor of Hepatology—which sometimes publishes unedited manuscripts online within a day or so of receiving them—says that in February of this year his journal briefly posted an article by Olav Gressner, titled “Identification of Connective Tissue Growth Factor as a Hepatic Negative Acute Phase Protein,” but withdrew it days later after learning about the fraud investigation into the researcher.

“Out conclusion was that sufficient concerns were raised during the investigation about fraudulent data” in the manuscript, Bologna says.

Olav Gressner has received grant money for his research from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, a government funding agency.

Update: The University of Aachen tells Retraction Watch that Dr. Olav Gressner, a liver researcher alleged to fabricated data, is no longer employed by the school.

Please see an update along with all of our posts on this subject.

3 thoughts on “Update: German university investigating authors who retracted caffeine-liver fibrosis letter”

  1. Dear Sir,

    with interest I noticed now your statement in retraction watch concerning our letter published in J. Hepatol 50 (5) 1053-5, 2009.
    We have already responded to it in more detail in the German “Laborjournal” 11,2010. There the true situation is clearly described, which is very different to what ic claimed by retraction watch. Contrary to what is claimed by the editor-in chief Didier Samuel of J Hepatol., both authors have never published any “falsified results”. Indeed, the corrections made in the manuscript prior to publication were approved by the issue manager Majella Darcy of Elsevier. Because of the major changes, she was explicitly asked whether another editorial review of our communication before publishing is needed. She replied that this was not necessary. Thus the authors have handled the communication correctly prior to publication. The editor-in chief of J Hepatol, Didier Samuel, should be informed about this process. We can provide all the respective Email correspondence regarding this matter leaving no doubt that we handled the matter correctly in agreement with the issue manager and according to the policies of the Journal of Hepatology.
    By the way, neither Olav Gressner nor I never received a request from retraction watch for a comment, which we would prefer to have given earlier.

    With kind regards,

    Axel M. Gressner

    1. Dr. Gressner – We thank you for your comments. We look forward to seeing the emails and article you describe and will contact you privately. We do, however, want to be clear that we did attempt to contact you and Olav Gressner by email on August 25, 2010, regarding this matter. We refer to those requests in our initial post.

  2. Sir,

    although partially written in big- and fat-printed letters the reply of Dr. Samuel is neither correct nor convincing. I repeat, with our letter we followed the guides for authors published by J. Hepatology. As stated before, Mrs. Darcy from Elsevier denied explicitly our E-mail question for a possible requirement of an additional review of the corrected letter by the editor(s).

    We suspect some other (non-scientific) reasons for the harsh, rigorous and dictatorial decision and statements of Dr. Samuel depending on certain local developments to which Dr. Samuel might have personal (published) connections (ref. Hepatology 2009; 49: 775-780).
    I will not step in details.

    Axel M. Gressner

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