Penn State postdoc faked data in cancer manuscript

oriweb_logoA former postdoctoral fellow at Penn State University faked numerous data and analyses in a manuscript submitted to Molecular Cancer Research, according to the Office of Research Integrity (ORI).

In a notice released today, the ORI found Julie Massè:

…knowingly falsified and/or fabricated Western blot images, by manipulating the images to give the desired results, and quantitative PCR data and cell invasion and migration data, which were included in Figures 2, 3, S1, and S2 in the Molecular Cancer Research manuscript.

The research was supported by a grant about the genes and molecular underpinnings of esophageal tumors, led by Penn State’s Douglas Stairs.

As part of the finding, Massè has agreed to have her research supervised for two years, starting July 6.

The “personnel” page for Stairs’s lab is blank; the ORI notice refers to her as a “former” postdoc at the Penn State College of Medicine.

Stairs and Massè appear to have filed a patent together for an invention that lets doctors distinguish between early and late stages of a precancerous lesion in the esophagus.

Massè is listed as a member of the Executive Council of the Penn State Hershey Postdoctoral Society (PSHPS).

Here are more details from the ORI’s notice:

Specifically, ORI found that the Respondent included falsified and/or fabricated data and images in the following figures, and the corresponding text, in the Molecular Cancer Research manuscript:

1. Bands were cut and pasted from different Western blots for the following figures:

a. Figures 2A, lanes 2 and 3, for P-cJun (S73)

b. Figure 2D, lanes 4 and 6, bands identified as ITGA2

c. Figure 3B, bands identified as ITGA2 and MMP11

d. Figure 3D, bands identified as ITGA2 and MMP11 for lanes M2Neo-↑ITGA2 control and ↓MMP1

e. Figure 3E, bands identified as ITGA2 and MMP11 for lanes M2KO-↓ITGA2 control and M2KO-↓ITGA2-↑MMP11

f. Figure S1A, bands identified as P-cJun (S73)

g. Figure S2A, bands identified as P-cJun (S73)

h. Figure S2C, bands identified as P-cJun (S73)

i. Figure S2E, bands identified ITGA2 and MMP11

j. Figures S4B and C, identical bands were used for β-actin
2. Numbers were increased or decreased in cell invasion and migration assays to give the desired results in the following figures:
a. Figure 2B, for M2KO-DMSO cells and M2KO-SR11302 cells

b. Figure 3F, for M2Neo-↑ITGA2 ↓MMP11

c. Figure 3G, for M2KO-↓ITGA2 ↑MMP11

d. Figure S1B, for F2KO-cJun peptide

e. Figure S2B, for F2KO-cJun DMSO and F2KO-cJun SR11302

f. Figure S2D, for F2KO-cJun peptide

g. Figure S2F, for F2Tom-↑ITGA2 and F2KO-↓ITGA2 peptide

h. Figures S4A, B, C, and D, for the migration for M2KO and F2KO cells
3. qPCR numbers were altered in Figure 2C, for M2KO-DMSO-PcJun ChIP and for M2KO-SR11302-PcJun ChIP, to give the desired result of PcJun binding to ITGA2 promoter.

We’ve contacted Stairs and Molecular Cancer Research. We were unable to find contact information for Massè.

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One thought on “Penn State postdoc faked data in cancer manuscript”

  1. In other disciplines, such as child welfare, one falsified document will cost you your license. You can not work in the field, in Illinois, again. It seems many falsified documents fail to merit harsh treatment, let alone loss of livelihood in medical research. Why? Are the stakes so much lower?

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