Journal retracts stem cell study despite objections of most authors

Gerold Feuer in 2008, via Upstate
Gerold Feuer in 2008, via Upstate

The journal Blood has retracted a 2010 paper over the objections of most of its authors, two of whom were found by their university to have used “fraudulent methods” to obtain the data.

We first reported on the case of Gerold Feuer last fall. The State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse fired Feuer in 2010 after determining that he had misused state funds to enrich a company he had founded, HuMurine. A court agreed with many of the university’s claims, but ordered his reinstatement in 2012.

Meanwhile, as we noted last fall:

… [A] separate scientific misconduct inquiry was ongoing in parallel with the financial investigation. That inquiry wrapped up in April of this year, and found large amounts of misconduct. The university ultimately found three researchers guilty. Two of those were Feuer and Prabal Banerjee, now an employee at HuMurine. But Michelle Sieburg and Elizabeth Samuelson were among those found not to have done anything wrong.

The university requested three retractions. The first ran last year. Feuer objected to that retraction, and to the university’s findings. Now comes another, of  “Adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma development in HTLV-1–infected humanized SCID mice” from Blood:

The Editors of Blood wish to retract the above-cited publication. The institutional investigations by the SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY, which focused on the research of Prabal Banerjee and Gerold Feuer, established that the data presented in the Blood 2010 paper were obtained using fraudulent methods and hence cannot be considered reliable. Specifically, the Investigation Committee concluded that data in Figures 1Q (insert) and 6D had been fabricated and/or falsified by using the same immunohistological image to represent different tissues. The Investigation Committee further concluded that data in Figure 2 (L and M) have been fabricated and/or falsified by duplicating flow cytometry control plots.

Michael D. Lairmore agrees to the retraction. Lindsey Crawford does not agree to the retraction. Prabal Banerjee, Adam Tripp, Michelle Sieburg, Juan Carlos Ramos, Mark A. Beilke, and Gerold Feuer do not agree to the retraction and maintain that no misconduct was committed. William J. Harrington, Jr. is deceased.

The paper has been cited 27 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

As the Committee on Publication Ethics notes:

Journal editors may retract publications (or issue expressions of concern) even if all or some of the authors refuse to retract the publication themselves.

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