Alirio Melendez, who has had three of his papers retracted amidst suspicions about 70, has had another one retracted, this one in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). And he has also resigned from his post at the University of Liverpool, we have just learned.
Here’s the notice:
Retraction for “The cytokine interleukin-33 mediates anaphylactic shock,” by Peter N. Pushparaj, Hwee Kee Tay, Shiau Chen H’ng, Nick Pitman, Damo Xu, Andrew McKenzie, Foo Y. Liew, and Alirio J. Melendez, which appeared in issue 24, June 16, 2009, of Proc Natl Acad Sci USA (106:9773–9778; first published June 8, 2009; 10.1073/pnas.0901206106).
The undersigned authors wish to note the following: “The panels in Fig. 2B1 and 2D3 are identical and used in a later paper (1), now retracted. The panels in Fig. 3E4 and 3E9 are used in two later publications, also now retracted (2, 3). Although we believe the overall message of the paper is correct, we can no longer consider the findings to be reliable. Accordingly, we wish to retract the paper. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused to other investigators.”
Peter N. Pushparaj
Hwee Kee Tay
Shiau Chen H’ng
Foo Y. Liew
1. Pushparaj PN, et al. (2009) Sphingosine kinase 1 is pivotal for Fc ε RI-mediated mast cell signaling and functional responses in vitro and in vivo. J Immunol 183:221–227.
2. Puneet P, et al. (2010) SphK1 regulates proinflammatory responses associated with endotoxin and polymicrobial sepsis. Science 328:1290–1294.
3. Puneet P, et al. (2011) The helminth product ES-62 protects against septic shock via Toll-like receptor 4-dependent autophagosomal degradation of the adaptor MyD88. Nat Immunol 12:344–351.
(The second citation, in Science, hasn’t actually been retracted yet. It was the subject of an Expression of Concern in October 2011 following a correction in January 2011. We asked PNAS about this, and they thanked us for flagging it and said it was an error that would be corrected.)
The paper has been cited 98 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
PNAS tells us they asked all the authors to sign the retraction, and Melendez wouldn’t. We tried him at his Liverpool email, but it bounced. Liverpool suspended Melendez
last October in April 2011 pending an investigation, and we now learn that he resigned sometime after that. A university spokesperson tells Retraction Watch:
Professor Alirio Melendez worked for the University of Liverpool from August 2010 to November 2011. Following allegations of research misconduct relating to discrepancies in two papers, Professor Melendez was suspended pending an investigation. The work relating to the papers was conducted before Professor Melendez’ s appointment to the University of Liverpool.
Before the University’s internal processes were completed, Professor Melendez resigned his position.
Melendez’s employers prior to Liverpool, the University of Glasgow and the National University of Singapore, have also been investigating the case, and we will update with anything we learn about those outcomes.
Update, 10:45 a.m. Eastern, 8/15/12: Liverpool tells us that the university stopped its investigation once Melendez resigned.
Update, 12:30 p.m. Eastern, 8/15/12: Richard van Noorden points out that the Journal of Immunology paper listed in the retraction notice as retracted has not actually been retracted. As we noted, PNAS said they will be correcting the notice’s error about the Science paper.
Update, 10 p.m. Eastern, 9/5/12: PNAS has corrected the Science reference in the retraction.