ORI sanctions former University of Chicago and UCSF scientists for faking findings

H. Rosie Xing
H. Rosie Xing

The stories behind several recent inscrutable retraction notices became a bit more clear today when the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) issued findings in cases involving former researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of California, San Francisco.

The ORI found that H. Rosie Xing, a former assistant professor at the University of Chicago,

engaged in research misconduct (42 CFR 93.103-104) by using images that had been among a set of manipulated images produced while at another institution, which had been found to be false by that institution. ORI found that Respondent falsely reported these images in Figures 1D, 2A, and Supplementary Figures 1Band 1C in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 9:2724-36, 2010. The Respondent does not agree with ORI’s finding of research misconduct and asserts that there are extenuating circumstances for her actions.

The paper, “Pharmacologic Inactivation of Kinase Suppressor of Ras1 Sensitizes Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor and Oncogenic Ras-Dependent Tumors to Ionizing Radiation Treatment” has been cited five times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge, and has not been retracted.

Although the ORI does not say which institution found Xing’s images to have been false, she recently retracted two papers from the Journal of Biological Chemistry, that she co-authored while at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Xing agreed to have her Federally-funded work supervised for three years, and not to serve on any NIH peer review committees for the same amount of time.

James Warne, via UCSF
James Warne, via UCSF

In a second unrelated case, according to the ORI, James Warne, formerly of UCSF, faked data in two NIH grant applications, and in two papers. One of the papers, “Coordinated Regulation of Hepatic Energy Stores by Leptin and Hypothalamic Agouti-Related Protein,” was published in the Journal of Neuroscience and retracted in October. The other, “Impairment of central leptin-mediated PI3K signaling manifested as hepatic steatosis independent of hyperphagia and obesity,” published in Cell Metabolism in 2011 and cited 17 times.

Warne made up

graphs purported to represent the results of ten (10) different ELISA experiments measuring norephinephrin (NE) or leptin levels in wild-type mice, in AGRP knockout mice, or in AGRP RNAi mice and controls that had received brain infusions of alpha-MPT, a tyrosine hydroxylase inhibitor or vehicle and leptin or AGRP


graphs purported to represent the results of six (6) different quantitative polymerase chain reaction (Q-PCR) experiments measuring mRNA levels in mouse liver from wild-type or AGRP RNAi mice and controls that had received brain infusions of alpha-MPT, a tyrosine hydroxylase inhibitor or vehicle and leptin, AGRP knockout mice injected with ethanol, or wild-type mice injected with ethanol and caffeine

Warne agreed to the same sanctions as Xing.

12 thoughts on “ORI sanctions former University of Chicago and UCSF scientists for faking findings”

  1. Please provide post publication peer review for the following articles:
    Journal of Oral Pathology and Medicine 12/2014; DOI: 10.1111/jop.12298
    Journal of Oral Pathology and Medicine 08/2014; DOI: 10.1111/jop.12232
    Oral Diseases 10/2013; DOI: 10.1111/odi.12190
    European Journal Of Oral Sciences 09/2013; DOI: 10.1111/eos.12085

    1. Above all, it’s disappointing to see how such sanctions will never prevent misconduct. If I correctly understand, “[their] Federally-funded work [will be] supervised for three years” means: “No problem, you will be allowed to receive funds, but this time, please don’t cheat”. And “not to serve on any NIH peer review committees” means: “additionally, you will be given extra-time to focus on enjoying your research”.
      In other words, cheaters get better treatment than many researchers.

      1. “not to serve on any NIH peer review committees”

        Despite the disadvantages to serving on NIH peer-review, I imagine that there are reasons to motivate the members.
        What worries me is the number of people who were serving on NIH peer-review committees and helping determine whose projects to fund and which to abandon, until their own research careers turned out to be entirely fabricated.

  2. Another example of the wheels grinding along very slowly. The 4 papers from Xing under question (PMIDs 15084597, 12960962, 11134016, 21586628) were originally blogged about in September 2012 and were reported to journals by Clare Francis even before then. In addition to the retracted JBC papers (15084597, 11134016) and the Nature Medicine Erratum (12960962), Xing’s 16 papers include another Nature Medicine paper with an Erratum (15864314) and a PLoS computational Biology paper with an Erratum (20369013). The MCT paper remains un-addressed by the journal. When almost 40% of someone’s scientific opus is subject to problems, one really must question the wisdom of permitting such persons to even apply for funding, let alone get it and use it “under supervision”.

  3. In the case of Warne, what does this mean in terms of his boss (Xu) and her funding? His misconduct directly contributed to her currently-funded grant applications, but they are not directly his.

  4. Mol Cancer Ther. 2010 Oct;9(10):2724-36. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-10-0124. Epub 2010 Sep 28.
    Pharmacologic inactivation of kinase suppressor of Ras1 sensitizes epidermal growth factor receptor and oncogenic Ras-dependent tumors to ionizing radiation treatment.
    Xiao H1, Zhang Q, Shen J, Bindokas V, Xing HR.
    Author information
    1Departments of Pathology, Radiation and Cellular Oncology, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.

    Pubpeer comments: https://pubpeer.com/publications/20876746

    2016 retraction notice: http://mct.aacrjournals.org/content/early/2016/01/22/1535-7163.MCT-15-0983.long

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