Plagiarism topples paper co-authored by top tamoxifen scientist

Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy has retracted a 2011 paper for plagiarism by two authors, one of whom, V. Craig Jordan, is a leading researcher on the class of drugs known as selective estrogen receptor modulators, or SERMs, and is credited with discovering the anti-tumor properties of the breast cancer drug tamoxifen.

Jordan, who is scientific director at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University, appears to have been unaware of the offense when the paper was published. Here’s the notice:

The editor would like to inform the readers that the following article has been withdrawn due to duplication of previously published material:

An author of this article, VC Jordan, noticed that his co-author, SS Ko, included various sections and sentences in this paper that were copied from a number of previously published articles. This has also been confirmed by the editor.

We would like to apologise to the authors of the following papers and to our readers for inadvertently publishing replicated material from these papers, which is not condoned by the publishing and scientific community:

  • Lee WL, Chao HT, Cheng MH, et al. Rational for using raloxifene to prevent both osteoporosis and breast cancer in postmenopausal women. The European Menopause Journal. 2008;60:92-107
  • Vogel V, Constantino J, Wickerham DL, et al. Update of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR) P-2 Trial: Preventing Breast Cancer. Cancer Prev Res. 2010;3(6):696-706
  • Vogel. Tipping the Balance for the Primary Prevention of Breast Cancer. JNCI. 2010;102(22):1683-1685
  • Riggs BL and Hartmann LC. Selective Estrogen-Receptor Modulators – Mechanisms of Action and Application to Clinical Practice. NEJM. 2003;348(7):618-629
  • Visvanathan K, Chlebowski R, Hurley P, et al. American Society of Clinical Oncology Clinical Practice Guidline Update on the Use of Pharmacologic Interventions Including Tamoxifen, Raloxifene, and Aromatase Inhibition for Breast Cancer Risk Reduction. J Clin Oncol. 2009;27:3253-3258
  • Gnant M. Can Oral Bisphosphonates Really Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer in Healthy Women? J Clin Oncol. 2010;3548-3551

The retracted paper — which has only been cited by the the retraction itself, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge — is the only one we could find by Jordan and Ko, whose name does not appear on the Georgetown website. We have left a message for Jordan and will update this post if we hear from him.

Hat tip: Clare Francis

21 thoughts on “Plagiarism topples paper co-authored by top tamoxifen scientist”

  1. It’s good to see that the editors of some COPE members (Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy) do the right thing, while (regrettably) in identical situation other editors of COPE members (for example, Gaceta Sanitaria) stubbornly refuse to do the right thing.
    I wonder if CONSISTENCY is something COPE is concerned?

    1. In reply to YouKnowBestOfAll July 28, 2012 at 6:02 am

      What is the example you mention in Gaceta Sanitaria?

      Posting a reference would be very helpful.

      The more people that know about something, the more that can write to the editors.

      1. Two figures in the paper “Welfare state, labour market inequalities and health. In a global context: An integrated framework. SESPAS report 2010″ published in Gaceta Sanitaria 2010; 24(Suppl1):56–61” are identical to the figures in earlier publication of the same authors, however, without any reference to this publication entitled “Employment Conditions and Health Inequalities”, Final Report to the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health, 20 September 2007, available here:

        There are striking similarities in the texts of these two publications, again without reference to the earlier publication.

        There are copyright irregularities, since two different parties: WHO and Elsevier claim simultaneously copyright on the material – the two figures and text.

        Figure1. Macro-level framework and policy entry points on p.57 in Gaceta Sanitaria is identical to
        Figure13. Policy entry points in the macro-theoretical framework on p.109 in WHO_Report_2007;
        Figure2. Micro-level framework and policy entry points on p. 58 in Gaceta Sanitaria is identical to
        Figure 14. Policy entry points in the micro-theoretical framework on p.109 in WHO_Report_2007.

        The same figures appear again, and as always with different titles and no reference to WHO_Report_2007, thus misleading the readers that it is new and original work, in:

        (i) “Employment and working conditions as health determinants”, p.165-195 in “Improving Equity in Health by Addressing Social Determinants”, published by WHO 2011 available here:

        (ii) “A Macro-level Model of Employment Relations and Health Inequalities” in International Journal of Health Services (IJHS), Vol.40,No.2,2010,p.215-221.

        (iii) “A Meso— and Micro-level Model of Employment Relations and Health Inequalities” in IJHS Vol.40,No.2,2010,p.223-227.

        (iv) “The Global Impact of Employment and Work on Health Inequalities: The Need for a New Policy Agenda”, essay No.vii in “Dilemmas in Globalization” published by Global Progressive Forum, March 2009,p.61.

        (v) “Labor Market Policies and Social Determinants of Health”, power point presentation, CHNET-Works! Fireside Chat#226

        Clare, is this enough?

    1. In reply to Clare Francis, July 28, 2012 at 9:02 am

      Now, after you got all the details for more than a week, did you do something about it, as you’ve said:
      “The more people that know about something, the more that can write to the editors.”

      As Desmond Tutu points out:

      “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”
      and I can add to his words “and you encourage more misconduct”

  2. Acta Astronautica is also a COPE member. Despite clear data falsification and duplication of results in the paper below, the editor does not want to correct the record for the readers.

    Authors: Tryggvason B.V.; Duval W.M.B.; Smith R.W.; Rezkallah K.S.; Varma S.; Redden R.F.; Herring R.A.

    Acta Astronautica, Volume 48, 2001.

    More about this case:

    1. In reply to mortshirkhanzadeh July 28, 2012 at 12:12 pm

      “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”
      Oh, no, pardon me.
      Something is VERY rotten in Canadian universities!

      When I have reported to another Canadian university case of multiple misconduct and breaches of university’s own “Framework to address research misconduct” by faculty member, I had precisely the same experience 1:1 as described from you

      IGNORANCE, DENIAL, AROGANCE & INTIMIDATION are the main features of the way they deal with well-evidenced allegations, where everything and anything is done by the university to cover-up the misconduct.
      (I wonder when they will start to use hitmen)

      In France there is a proverb which can be translated as:
      “One person is exception, and two are already a queue”
      I can predict that with Canadian universities it will be a long queue.

      I think that Retraction Watch should pay special attention to Canadian universities.
      May be RW can start with featuring your case.

  3. I reply to InYouKnowBestOfAll July 28, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    Yes, something is very rotten in Canadian universities. Instead of dealing with research misconduct, they do almost everything to silence the messenger. Cases like this should be widely publicised.
    How can one have any confidence in research results coming out of this university when the administration denies the existence of more than 22 duplicated papers with bogus authorship? There are more than 16 journal articles and conference papers that contain fabricated and falsified data: And yet the university administration claims that there is no misconduct. The cover up by the university is hundred times worse than the research misconduct. It is unbelievable.

    1. In reply to mortshirkhanzadeh July 30, 2012 at 1:11 pm

      You have already done this many times, but all I can say is: keep writing to the editors of the journals and copy in people who might make a difference.

  4. 2018 correction figures 3a and 5a 2008 paper.
    Breast Cancer Res. 2008;10(6):R104. doi: 10.1186/bcr2208. Epub 2008 Dec 5.
    Buthionine sulfoximine sensitizes antihormone-resistant human breast cancer cells to estrogen-induced apoptosis.
    Lewis-Wambi JS1, Kim HR, Wambi C, Patel R, Pyle JR, Klein-Szanto AJ, Jordan VC.
    Author information
    Department of Medical Sciences, Fox Chase Cancer Center, 333 Cottman Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111, USA.

    2018 correction.

    After the publication of this work [1] an error was noticed in Fig. 3a and Fig. 5a. In Fig. 3a, the TUNEL staining image for the E2-treated MCF-7:2A cells was accidentally duplicated for the image for the BSO-treated MCF-7:2A cells. We have repeated this experiment using the Click-it-TUNEL kit under the same conditions previously described in our original publication [1] and our results are consistent. Our revised Fig. 3a showed that BSO treatment significantly enhanced E2-induced apoptosis in anti-hormone-resistant MCF-7:2A breast cancer cells compared to E2 or BSO treatment alone, however, in wild-type MCF-7 cells BSO treatment did not significantly alter the growth of these cells either alone or in combination with E2. The corrected Fig. 3a is shown below. Similarly, we also noticed an error in the Western blot shown in Fig. 5a. Specifically, there was a duplication of the phospho-JNK blot for the MCF-7 cells and MCF-7:2A cells for the control, E2, and BSO-treated groups (top blot). To correct this error, we repeated this experiment using the same conditions described in our original publication [1] and the revised Fig. 5a is shown below. We found that BSO combined with E2 dramatically increased phospho-JNK, phospho-c-Jun, and c-Jun expression in MCF-7:2A cells but not in wild-type MCF-7 cells which is consistent with our previous findings in our original publication [1]. Our revisions validate our previous findings and are consistent with the conclusions stated in our original publication. We apologize for these two errors.

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