A correction to a correction for stem cell researcher Jacob Hanna

Jacob Hanna
Jacob Hanna

A correction to a correction is the latest problem for highly cited researcher Jacob Hanna. The stem cell scientist — whose high-profile work has received scrutiny over the past year — has amended an earlier correction notice after a reader spotted an inadvertent “mistake.”

We reported on the original correction, to the 2009 Cell Stem Cell paper “Metastable Pluripotent States in NOD-Mouse-Derived ESCs,” in July. The paper has been cited 184 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Apparently, a pair of images in the original correction note are of the same cell colonies, when they are supposed to be of separate cell colonies.

The new (and detailed) note explains how that happened:

We became aware from a reader that one of the images included in the Erratum that we published earlier this year closely resembled an image in one of the other figures in the paper. Specifically, the SSEA1 stained colony presented for 129 iPSEpiSC #1K in Figure S10A was the same as the colony presented as SSEA1 staining of NOD-iPSC mES +KP/CH in Figure S1A. Although the two images are not identical, from examination of the relationship between them, we concluded that they do represent the same colony of cells and yet were presented as being distinct.

We have investigated the basis of this duplication and have determined that it resulted from a mistake in file saving and naming during recording of the data for these experiments. An SSEA1 staining image of a colony of NOD-iPSC mES +KP/CH cells, shown in Figure S1A, was inadvertently saved and mislabeled as an SSEA1 staining of 129 iPSEpiSC #1K. We have examined the original data files related to this overall experiment and have verified based on date/time stamping and laboratory notes that this incorrect file labeling was the basis of the error. We also sent the relevant original data files to the journal editors for verification. Subsequent images saved shortly after the mislabeled one were correctly recorded as 129 iPSEpiSC #1K and we have used a representative image from the correct series to produce a revised version of Figure S10 as shown below. All of the other panels shown in Figure S10 remain the same, and the conclusions of the paper are not affected.

We are grateful to the reader who brought this unfortunate mistake to our attention and apologize for any confusion caused to our colleagues in the community.

It’s case closed for the paper, says the journal. When we followed up with a Cell Stem Cell spokesperson — who, last month, told us they were still looking into the paper — he said:

The new correction notice outlines the investigation that we conducted, the basis of the duplication, and the action we and the authors took to correct it.  We believe it explains the situation clearly.  We are not aware of any outstanding issues with relation to this paper that require further investigation.

But we’re not expecting this to be the last we hear of Hanna —  many of his papers have comments on PubPeer. So far, he’s issued one retraction and two errata.

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