Researcher who lost whistleblower lawsuit logs 4 more retractions

A brain journal has retracted four papers by a researcher due to image duplications that the university uncovered during an investigation into his work.

According to the retraction notice, Wayne State University found that Christian Kreipke had used several images in these articles “to represent different results in grant proposals and/or poster presentations,” and that the data were unreliable. Kreipke now has a total of five retractions, by our count.

As we’ve reported before, Wayne State and Kreipke have been engaged in conflict for several years. In 2012, Kreipke was dismissed from his assistant professor post at Wayne State after the university said it found evidence of research misconduct, according to Courthouse News. Kreipke fired back against the university, filing a whistleblower lawsuit. In it, Kreipke claimed that the institution was “involved in a conspiracy,” according to unsealed court documents, in which it had swindled the U.S. government out of millions in research funding.

A judge dismissed the case in 2014, but the conflict between Kreipke and Wayne State was not over.

According to the Scotus blog, in May 2016, Kreipke’s attorney, Shereef Akeel, petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. On January 9, the petitioned was denied.

Meanwhile, this past September, we reported on Kreipke’s first retraction, which his lawyer told us was a retaliatory move from Wayne State because of Kreipke’s whistleblower lawsuit.

But just last week, the editors and publishers of Neurological Research retracted four papers by Kreipke after he used figures in the papers to represent different results in several grant proposals and poster presentations:

Here’s the retraction notice:

Following an investigation by Wayne State University into the research conducted by Dr CW Kreipke, it has been determined to retract the above articles. The University found that several images presented in the above articles were also used to represent different results in grant proposals and/or poster presentations authored by Dr Kreipke. The University concluded that the data were fundamentally unreliable and recommended that the above articles should be retracted.

We have been informed in our decision-making by the guidance of COPE guidelines on retractions.

The retracted article will remain online to maintain the scholarly record, but it will be digitally watermarked on each page as “Retracted”.

Kreipke had already received corrigenda for two of the papers in 2013 over figure-related errors.

Akeel, Kreipke’s attorney, told us that these latest allegations by the university were “slanderous and defamatory:”

Dr. [Kreipke] has categorically denied [that] he ever created [those] images as that was not even his responsibility, and he was not even the sole author of the articles that are being retracted.

Please keep in mind as well that it was determined that the actual numerical scientific findings which was my client’s responsibility were accurate.

Akeel also noted that the timing of the four retractions is “very coincidental,” in that it happened shortly after the Supreme Court denied Kreipke’s petition.

A spokesperson for the publisher, Taylor and Francis, referred us to the retraction statement as “providing all relevant information to this instance.” We also contacted the journal’s editor-in-chief and the university’s vice dean. We’ll update the post if we learn anything else.

Update, 4 p.m. Eastern, 3/5/17: Through his attorney, Kreipke sent us this comment:

On numerous occasions the Publisher has been asked to retract my manuscripts.  Each request was denied.  In fact, well AFTER the first attempt by Wayne State University to have my manuscripts retracted and AFTER the results of their investigation were made known, the managing editor agreed to publish two Corrigenda to manuscripts in question which clearly stated that errors were made, but that these errors did not alter the validity of the findings. By both government and University standards, honest error is NOT misconduct.  It is, therefore, unclear why suddenly, with no new evidence being proffered, the publishers have reversed their previous decisions NOT to retract any papers.  I agree with my lawyer that the timing of this is remarkable given the past and current, on-going litigation.  Incidentally, in the other two manuscripts in question Wayne State refused to obtain the raw data to verify the accuracy of these manuscripts and, thus, there is no evidence to support charges of misconduct or any impropriety in these publications.

Hat tip: Rolf Degen

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9 thoughts on “Researcher who lost whistleblower lawsuit logs 4 more retractions”

  1. Hmm.. who knows what the truth of this is. However I find the statement by Dr. Krepke;s lawyer a bit strange “Akeel also noted that the timing of the four retractions is “very coincidental,” in that it happened shortly after the Supreme Court denied Kreipke’s petition.”
    This doesn’t make much sense to me.
    If the retractions happened shortly *before* the Court’s ruling surely this would have been more “coincidental” (if I understand correctly what Mr.Akeel was trying to imply/say)?

    1. Agreed. none if it seems to make sense. My English may not be excellent, but “very coincidental” seems to not make sense to me except that he tries to imply a conspiracy theory?

    2. Who knows all the details? But one thing seems clear–there are blood pressure curves in two of the retracted papers that appear identical but are reported to be from animals treated with different drugs. I’ve got no legal experience (never even on a jury) but I wonder how would that be “slanderous and defamatory”?

    3. There is something else that is strange here. Lawyer says that Kreipke has categorically denied [that] he ever created [those] images as that was not even his responsibility. Then Kreipke says “By both government and University standards, honest error is NOT misconduct”, seemingly accepting responsibility for the images. Crazy.

  2. Do I miss something here?
    Krepke was dismissed in 2012 due to research misconduct, and his answer was a lawsuit against the University.

    Where is the report from the investigation? There is nothing at the University pages. When searching there for Krepke the won lawsuit and some research reports are the only hits. Why does US universities and research institutes hide these misconduct cases? Openness in these cases are necessary for two important reasons: 1) preventive reasons, 2) information to all the scientists that have wasted time reading the flawed articles and tried to reproduce the results and to potential new readers.

    Why did WSU wait that long to retract these articles? Krepke was dismissed in 2012, and 4-5 years later the articles are finally retracted.

    I doesn’t make sense.

    1. This comment is quite delayed, but I just saw this questions. I was involved once in a misconduct investigation. At the end, we were instructed VERY sternly by the university’s legal staff to keep our mouths shut about the case until ORI made its report. Otherwise, they said, we could compromise the investigation or become targets of lawsuits by our respondents. Maybe that’s the reason the university is laying low in this case.

      I just looked and there’s nothing at ORI’s site on this case. That probably means either 1) ORI dropped their case against this person or 2) it hasn’t had a definitive decision yet.

      Does anyone know whether ORI publishes anything on a case that leads to exoneration?

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