The comments suggested that the figures in the paper had problems. Some bands seemed to be duplicated, and one of the images looked very much like that of another paper.
Then, today, first author Eriko Suzuki left this comment:
As mentioned above, I agree that our paper published in Oncogene (Rituximab inhibits the constitutively activated PI3K-Akt pathway in B-NHL cell lines: involvement inchemosensitization to drug-induced apoptosis. Oncogene 26,6184-6193, 2007) contained some inappropriate figures. I just realized that I had misconducted pasting some JPG images as I had huge amounts of similar data at that time. According to these mistakes, I judge that the conclusion we drew in that paper cannot be fully supported. Therefore, I regretfully asked Oncogene Editorial office to retract our paper mentioned above. I must apologize that my misconduct has brought trouble to the journal, Oncogene.
But that wasn’t the end of Suzuki’s honesty. We contacted her to confirm that she in fact left the comment on PubPeer. She said she did. Then she said more:
I have already contacted the Oncogene editorial office and asked to retract the paper.
Since relevant data were included in my Ph.D thesis, my degree and position will be rescinded.
The position to which Suzuki refers is as assistant professor in the Department of Applied Biological Science at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology. She earned her PhD at Keio University, also in Japan, in 2008, with the work in Oncogene completed at UCLA between 2005 and 2007. Her Oncogene co-authors are at UCLA.
Suzuki told us in another email that her university was not yet aware of the issue, but that she would “express my desire to apologize in a sincere manner to the authorities in a couple of days.”
The Oncogene paper has been cited 37 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.