Georgia (well, the Medical College there, anyway) on our minds for a mysterious retraction

We’re watching a case which appears to involve more than meets the eye.

Molecular Endocrinology has retracted a 2010 study by researchers at the Medical College of Georgia. According to the Spartan retraction notice (we added a link):

The publisher of Molecular Endocrinology retracts the following article due to significant concerns with the data: “Caveolin 1 Is Required for the Activation of Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase in Response to 17 beta-Estradiol,” by Neetu Sud, Dean A. Wiseman, and Stephen M. Black (Molecular Endocrinology 24:1637–1649, 2010; doi: 10.1210/me.2010-0043).

Unfortunately, that’s all we could find out about the paper, which was first published online in July. The senior author, Stephen M. Black, of the Vascular Biology Center at Georgia, declined to discuss the matter, citing an ongoing investigation, and referred us to university attorneys. We heard from one lawyer, Andrew Newton, who said basically the same thing and mentioned the Office of Research Integrity.

Although we don’t know much about this case, Black’s web page contains an extensive list of high-value NIH grants dating back to 2002, including one that expired in June 2010 for $1 million in direct costs. ORI would be notified in cases of alleged misconduct involving NIH funds.

What we don’t now know, however, is what exactly gave the journal cause for concern. Donald DeFranco, the editor, has not replied to an e-mailed request for comment and we haven’t been able to reach him by phone.

Here’s what we know about the two other authors: Sud, the first author, has been a post-doc in Black’s lab, with a grant from the American Heart Association. Wiseman has moved to Indiana University and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

A Medline search turned up at least nine articles by Black and Sud, and five that list Black, Sud and Wiseman as authors. Black and Wiseman share authorship on at least 15 publications that we could find.

Needless to say, we’ll be paying close attention to this case and will update this post when we learn more.

See this post for another retraction from Molecular Endocrinology.

3 thoughts on “Georgia (well, the Medical College there, anyway) on our minds for a mysterious retraction”

  1. Well, I had a quick look at the paper. I also don’t know the real background why that paper has been retracted, but a first hint towards misconduct may have been the following facts: the effects are pretty clear (or, drastic), while the standard errors (SEMs) are very small, given the complex nature of the experiments (biological variation, transfection efficacy, immunoblot evaluation and the like). The alarm bell rang when I discovered some identical averages with identical SEMs, e.g., Fig. 1B, right bars; Fig. 4C, last two bars; Fig. 5G, 1st and 3rd bar. Just my five cents.

  2. I think that in Fig. 1 there are duplicated bands. Fig. 1C and 1E have the same identical 5′ nucleotidase bands.
    not sure if relevant though.

    And I like this new game..

  3. the nih grant of prof. black sholud be stopped if he is giving false data . also his lab members should be given strict instruction of not putting falsified data in papers and grants…

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