Authors have retracted three papers from the Journal of Physiology because they contained “falsified or fabricated data.”
The papers, which address calcium signaling in heart muscle cells, are among the six pegged for retraction after an Office of Research Integrity (ORI) investigation into one of the authors, Igor Dzhura, formerly of Vanderbilt University. The ORI found that Dzhura had committed an enormous amount of fraud, involving dozens of faked images and more.
Dzhura was fired from a job at Novartis in November after the company discovered that his application had included the fraudulent work.
The three retracted Journal of Physiology papers and their citation figures, courtesy of Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge, are:
- Calmodulin kinase and a calmodulin-binding ‘IQ’ domain facilitate L-type Ca2+ current in rabbit ventricular myocytes by a common mechanism (2000, cited 48 times)
- Cytoskeletal disrupting agents prevent calmodulin kinase, iq domain and voltage-dependent facilitation of l-type ca2+Channels, (2002, cited 41 times)
- C terminus L-type Ca2+ channel calmodulin-binding domains are ‘auto-agonist’ ligands in rabbit ventricular myocytes, (2003, cited 16 times)
All three notices contain the same sentence, referencing the ORI report about Dzhura:
The retraction has been agreed because the article has been found to include falsified or fabricated data – see https://ori.hhs.gov/content/case-summary-dzhura-igor
All of the authors of each paper except Dzhura agreed to the retractions.
The corresponding author and principal investigator of all the papers, Mark Anderson, was the principal investigator in the Vanderbilt lab where Dzhura was doing a postdoc. Anderson has since moved on to Johns Hopkins, where he is the director of the department of medicine. He is a highly cited researcher in the field of cardiovascular disease; 66 of his publications have been cited at least 100 times.
Anderson told us via the Hopkins media office that his experience with Dzhura motivated some changes in data storage practices in his lab:
Integrity is essential to all aspects of our professional and personal lives. A member of our Vanderbilt research team violated scientific norms and challenged the fundamental trust involved in publicly funded research, where taxpayers invest in scientific programs, in part, based on the potential of these studies to improve human lives by reducing suffering and healing disease.
Since these manuscripts were published, most of the core findings of these papers have been replicated or supported by subsequent findings.
Unfortunately, despite best efforts to maintain the highest standards of data integrity, I do not believe it is possible to stop an individual bent on deception. But we can learn from these bad actors.
This experience motivated our laboratory to develop an improved method of data curation and storage so that experimental data could be retrieved and analyzed with greater ease. Creating durable, accessible and comprehensive data storage policies is increasingly important in this era of team science. I look forward to continuing this important work with my new colleagues at Johns Hopkins.
We also reached out to the editor of the Journal of Physiology and will update if we hear back.
Hat tip: Commenter “chris”