German funder bans researcher for five years following misconduct probe

A researcher in Germany has been banned from seeking money from the largest independent research funder in the country for five years after an investigation by her former employer found her guilty of misconduct.

According to a recent announcement from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), scientist Tina Wenz cannot apply for any DFG funding for five years, after a probe by the University of Cologne in Germany concluded she should retract six papers over misconduct.

A spokesperson for the DFG told us the agency funds more than 30,000 projects per year, and since 1998, has announced a ban due to data manipulation or misconduct only 10 times.

Among those cases, there are in total 6 cases, including the now decided case [against] Dr. Wenz, with a ban for five years; the last one before Dr. Wenz took place in 2012.

Two papers have been pulled by Cell Metabolism; another was retracted by PNAS, and a fourth paper disappeared from the Journal of Applied Physiology late last year.

Wenz now works at pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim. A spokesperson for the firm told us previously:

…Dr. Wenz has always been transparent to us about the ongoing investigation and the respective outcome and has taken the full responsibility for any misconduct that happened in her laboratory or through her coworkers at the University of Cologne.

We have no doubt in the quality of the research of Dr. Wenz at Boehringer Ingelheim. Integrity and validity of data resulting out of Boehringer Ingelheim’s research are of utmost importance for us and we have rigorous validation processes in place to assure the high quality of these data.

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5 thoughts on “German funder bans researcher for five years following misconduct probe”

  1. This is a mere slap on the wrist. I think a lifetime ban from all German funding bodies would be more appropriate.

    1. If an academic is barred from funding for so long, he/she will find it very difficult to find new funding afterwards assuming the funding agencies check the cv’s of those applying for funds. I think this 5 year ban is effective for much longer.

        1. Thanks. Good to point that out and make this quantitative. Half the sanctioned academics return to research work and 1 in 6 of those get NIH funding. So roughly 10% get back to ‘normal’. Somewhat more than what I expected, but it means that people do make use of this second chance, and that is positive.

    2. Indeed. Who said crime doesn’t pay? On the back of this fraudulent research, she obtained a faculty position in Köln, followed by a plum job in industry. Also she received an Emmy Noether fellowship thus preventing funding of a more worthy candidate. The least she should do is pay back her (very good) salary back to the DFG.

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