1st retraction for biologist who doctored 40+ images, received funding ban

JBC CoverThe Journal of Biological Chemistry has retracted a paper that was one of eight flagged in a recent investigation by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI). The investigation — which concluded that a biologist had falsified or fabricated more than 40 images — resulted in a five-year funding ban. 

In May, the ORI announced that John Pastorino, an erstwhile cell biologist at Rowan University in New Jersey, falsified and/or fabricated eight of his published papers (and one unpublished one). Nataly Shulga is a co-author on all eight papers. Six of those eight papers had already received expressions of concern (EOC).

The first retraction to result from the investigation is one of the two published papers that had not been tagged by an EOC. Here’s the retraction notice:

This article has been retracted by the publisher. An investigation by the Office of Research Integrity determined that falsified and/or fabricated Western blots were included in Figs. 1B, 3A, 4D, 5E, and 6C (https://ori.hhs.gov/content/case-summary-pastorino-john-g).

The now-retracted paper, “Hexokinase II binding to mitochondria is necessary for Kupffer cell activation and is potentiated by ethanol exposure,” has so far been cited four times since it was published in 2014, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

In May, Rowan University informed us that Pastorino was “no longer employed” at the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, and that it had asked him to retract all of the eight published papers flagged by the ORI.

According to the ORI findings, Pastorino

falsified and/or fabricated Western blot data for mitochondrial function related to cell/tissue injury, in fifty-eight (58) blot panels included in forty-two (42) figures in eight (8) publications, one (1) unpublished manuscript, and one (1) grant application. In the absence of valid Western blot images, the Respondent fabricated and/or falsified quantitative data in associated bar graphs, statistical analyses presented in figure legends, and related text.

In May, Paul Brookes, a researcher at the University of Rochester in New York (who used to run science-fraud.org), tweeted that Pastorino cost his lab “thousands in wasted time & reagents.”

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3 thoughts on “1st retraction for biologist who doctored 40+ images, received funding ban”

  1. I can bet that many of us will have the reaction I had with the title of the post: there is no requirement to fake articles if you want to receive a (5-year) funding ban: just submit honest, normal, well written, and well supported grant proposals.

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