A former postdoc at the University of Pittsburgh has admitted to committing research misconduct in published papers and in National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant applications.
falsified and/or fabricated quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) data to demonstrate a statistically significant or “trend” of statistical difference in the expression of renal or bladder urothelium and muscle developmental markers between control and experimental (mutant) mice, when there was none.
The false data were reported in a 2015 paper in the American Journal of Physiology: Renal Physiology, “Fgfr2 is integral for bladder mesenchyme patterning and function,” and a 2013 paper in PLOS ONE, “Deletion of Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 2 from the Peri-Wolffian Duct Stroma Leads to Ureteric Induction Abnormalities and Vesicoureteral Reflux.” Another manuscript submitted to PLOS ONE, and two grant applications, also included the false data.
The 2013 paper has been cited seven times, while the 2015 paper has yet to be cited, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science. Walker agreed to correct or retract the two papers, and to have any NIH-funded research supervised for three years. He also can’t serve on any NIH committees, including peer review committees, for the same period of time.
Update, 6 p.m. Eastern, 5/9/16: Craig Wilcox, Pitt’s Research Integrity Officer, told us he could not comment on the case:
Our policy, which complies with federal laws and regulations, mandates that the University protect the confidentiality of all involved in investigations of alleged misconduct. Proceedings of our investigations are disclosed only as required by regulation, contractual obligation, or law. For this reason, the University is unable to comment on research integrity cases, and I must abide by that policy.
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