Earlier this month, we reported on a correction by Luk van Parijs, the biologist the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) fired in 2005 after he admitted to making up data.
Immunity has now run a retraction involving van Parijs, dated May 25, 2012, for 2003’s “Autoimmunity as the Consequence of a Spontaneous Mutation in Rasgrp1”:
(Immunity 19, 243–255; August 2003)
The authors have agreed to retract the paper because of the falsification of the Western blot in Figure 6A. The figure shows a defect in Ras activation, labeled as RasGTP, following TCR engagement, in thymocytes isolated from a RasGRP1 lag mutant mouse strain. This data set is one of several that show signaling and functional deficiencies identified for cells with lost of function of RasGRP. The authors stand by the validity of the other figures, results, and interpretation in this paper. This matter was investigated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Office of Research Integrity at the United States Department of Health & Human Services, which found that the figure was falsified by Luk Van Parijs, who is solely responsible. The authors deeply regret any inconvenience resulting from the publication of this data.
The paper has been cited 44 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. But it was among those cited by the Office of Research Integrity in its 2009 findings about the van Parijs case:
While at MIT, Dr. Luk Van Parijs falsified figures in grant applications submitted to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a presentation in 2003, and Figure 6A, Immunity 19:243-255 (2003), by falsely claiming that the image in the figure represented an immunoprecipitation assay for Ras-GTP and a Western blot for total Ras protein, when it actually represented a Western blot for Bcl-2 and [beta]-actin in T cells, previously published as Figure 5C, J. Immunol., 168:597-603 (2002).
It’s not clear why the retraction is just appearing now, nor why it took more than three years for the authors to agree to withdraw the paper. We’ve asked the corresponding author for comment, and will update with anything we find out.
By our count, it’s the fifth retraction for van Parijs, who was sentenced last year to six months of house arrest.
Hat tip: @biochembelle