Second retraction by Harvard group studying cannabinoids, this one in JBC

Last week, we reported that a group of Harvard researchers had retracted a paper in Blood for “multiple instances of duplicate (redundant) publication of data, text, and images that are nonessential to the paper.” The retraction notice referred to a paper in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC):

The redundancies are between the above-cited Blood article and the following 12 November 2010 article, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC): Jiang S, Zagozdzon R, Jorda MA, et al. Endocannabinoids are expressed in bone marrow stromal niches and play a role in interactions of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells with the bone marrow microenvironment. J Biol Chem. 2010;285(46):35471-35478.

Today, we learned that the JBC paper has also been retracted. The notice, as we’ve come to expect from the JBC, is unhelpful:

This article has been withdrawn by the authors.

The 2010 paper has been cited just once, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. Like the Blood paper, one of the authors is Jerome Groopman, known for his contributions to the New Yorker. However, he is neither senior nor lead author, and we don’t know the contributions of each member of the research team.

Last week, Harvard told us that it had “initiated a review process in accordance with both our institutional policy and federal regulations,” but wouldn’t say any more. We asked them for some details today, and will update with anything we hear back.

In the meantime, we’ll note that it’s unusual, among the retractions for duplication that we’ve covered at Retraction Watch, for the original paper to also be withdrawn. That strengthens the impression we noted in our last post, that there is more going on here than simple duplication.

Update, 6:30 p.m. Eastern, 7/7/11: Blood editor Cynthia Dunbar declined to go into detail about the retracted article in her journal, but she did tell us that there was “definitely overlap” between the two papers.

It was pointed out by a reader and it wasn’t that hard to find.

Dunbar said the two manuscripts had been submitted concurrently, making it impossible for reviewers, or editors, to spot the duplication.

Beth Israel Deaconess, the Harvard affiliate where the group is based, did not add anything in its response to us:

…a review process is underway regarding the Blood and JBC papers, and per our institution’s policies, details remain confidential.

Hat tip: Uwe Vinkemeier

2 thoughts on “Second retraction by Harvard group studying cannabinoids, this one in JBC”

  1. Shared authors, including senior author on both retracted papers to date.

    Oncogene. 2004 Aug 5;23(35):5890-900.Genetic alterations of the NRP/B gene are associated with human brain tumors.Liang XQ1, Avraham HK, Jiang S, Avraham S.Author information1Division of Experimental Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Institutes of Medicine, 4 Blackfan Circle, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

    Figure 2b.Much more similar than you would expect.See:

    Figure 3c. Much more similar than you would expect.See:

    Figure 4b.Much more similar than you would expect.  

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