The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Research Integrity (ORI) has found that a Boston University cancer researcher made up experiments reported in two papers funded by National Cancer Institute and National Institutes of Health grants. According to the ORI notice:
Sheng Wang, PhD, Boston University School of Medicine Cancer Research Center: Based on the Respondent’s acceptance of ORI’s research misconduct findings, ORI found that Dr. Sheng Wang, who has been an Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine Cancer Research Center (BUSM), engaged in research misconduct in research supported by National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health (NIH), grants R01 CA102940 and R01 CA101992.
The two papers were:
Zhang, B., Faller, D.V., Wang, S. “HIC1 regulates tumor cell responses to endocrine therapies.’ Mol. Endocrinol. 23(12):2075-85, 2009 (not yet cited, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge)
Zhang, B., Chambers, K.J., Leprince, D., Faller, D.V., Wang, S. “Requirement for chromatin-remodeling complex in novel tumor suppressor HIC1-mediated transcriptional repression and growth control.’ Oncogene 28(5):651-61, 2009 (cited 9 times)
HIC1 is thought to be a tumor suppressor that is “turned off” in cancers. The ORI found that Wang:
- Fabricated RT-PCR and ChIP experiments represented in Figures 1b, 2b, 3a,b, 4b,c, 6a,b, 7c in Mol. Endocrinol. 23(12):2075-85, 2009; RT-PCR and/or ChIP experiments were included in six (6) of seven (7) figures in this publication; and
- Fabricated RT-PCR and ChIP experiments represented in Figures 2a,b, 3a,b, 4a,c, 5a,b, 6b,c, 8a,b in Oncogene 28(5):651-61, 2009; RT-PCR and/or ChIP experiments were included in six (6) of eight (8) figures in this publication.
Wang did the ORI version of “no contest,” apparently:
Respondent has entered into a Voluntary Exclusion Agreement (Agreement). Respondent and the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) want to conclude this matter without further expenditure of time or other resources. Respondent accepts ORI’s findings of research misconduct as set forth above but neither admits nor denies committing research misconduct. The Agreement does not constitute an admission of liability on Respondent’s part. Respondent agrees not to appeal the jurisdiction of ORI or request a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) administrative hearing to review the findings as set forth in the Agreement.
However, as a condition of the agreement with ORI, Wang agreed to retract both papers. He also agreed, for two years:
(1) To exclude himself from any contracting or subcontracting with any agency of the United States Government and from eligibility or involvement in nonprocurement programs of the United States Government referred to as “covered transactions’ pursuant to HHS’ Implementation (2 CFR part 376 et seq) of OMB Guidelines to Agencies on Governmentwide Debarment and Suspension, 2 CFR part 180 (collectively the “Debarment Regulations’); and
(2) To exclude himself from serving in any advisory capacity to PHS, including but not limited to service on any PHS advisory committee, board, and/or peer review committee, or as a consultant.
It’s not clear if Wang is still working at BU.[See update at end.] He was promoted to assistant professor in 2008.
We’ll update as we learn more.
Update, 10:30 a.m. Eastern, 8/9/11: BU has provided a statement to Retraction Watch:
The retraction of these articles is in accordance with a decision reached by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI). ORI’s decision resulted from an internal review process initiated by Boston University in accordance with institutional policy and federal regulations. Dr. Wang no longer works at BU.
Hat tip: @BiochemBelle