A group of researchers at the University of Utah has retracted two papers from Cell Metabolism after they realized that a dismissed employee had tossed out data that were the basis of some error-laden figures.
Here’s the notice for both papers:
This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (http://www.elsevier.com/locate/withdrawalpolicy).
This article has been retracted at the request of the Authors.
We, the authors, wish to retract “Decoupling Ferritin Synthesis from Free Cytosolic Iron Results in Ferritin Secretion” by De Domenico et al. (Cell Metab., 13 (2011) 57–67, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2010.12.003 and “The Role of Ubiquitination in Hepcidin-Independent and Hepcidin-Dependent Degradation of Ferroportin” by De Domenico et al. (Cell Metab., 14 (2011) 635–646, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2011.09.008) because a number of errors have been detected in the assembly of the figures, and some of the original data were inappropriately removed from the laboratory. We stand by the validity of our studies; the data are reproducible, and the conclusions were not affected by the errors. However, we believe that the most responsible course of action is to retract the paper. We are preparing a new expanded version of this study for future submission. We deeply apologize to the community for the inconvenience.
“Decoupling Ferritin Synthesis from Free Cytosolic Iron Results in Ferritin Secretion” has been cited three times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
We asked senior author Jerry Kaplan what happened:
The data were lost when an employee, who was dismissed, discarded lab notebooks without permission. This occurred prior to the identification of errors in the manuscripts and was reported at that time to the University authorities.
The dismissed employee? Kaplan said:
It was not a co-author but a technician who is no longer in the US.
The university, a spokesperson told us
does not comment on the existence or status of investigations.
CELL BIOLOGY Correction for “Hepcidin-induced internalization of ferroportin requires binding and cooperative interaction with Jak2,” by Ivana De Domenico, Eric Lo, Diane M. Ward, and Jerry Kaplan, which appeared in issue 10, March 10, 2009, of Proc Natl Acad Sci USA (106:3800–3805; first published February 20, 2009; 10.1073/pnas.0900453106).
The authors note that several figures appeared incorrectly. In Fig. 1, the anti-Jak2 panel was replaced due to errors in preparing the figure for publication. In Fig. 2A, the human Jak2 differential interference contrast (DIC) image and the epifluorescence image (-Hepcidin) as well as the anti-Jak2 Western blot panel were replaced due to errors in preparing the figure for publication. Fig. 3B was replaced due to errors in preparing the figure for publication. Lastly, in Fig. 4A, the anti-Fpn panel (1.) was replaced due to errors in preparing the figure for publication. These errors do not affect the conclusions of the article. The corrected figures and their legends appear below.
We asked Kaplan why the papers were handled differently:
We take these matters very seriously and deeply regret that errors were made in the assembly of the figures. We stand by the data and conclusions in the papers. We have independently repeated critical findings and preferred to correct the publications because these are important contributions to the literature. Some of the original data for the Cell Metabolism papers were in the discarded notebooks. That fact was influential in the decision to retract the Cell Metabolism papers.