Late last year, Carl Ronald Kahn—also chief academic officer at Joslin Diabetes Center—retracted two papers for similar reasons. In November, Kahn pulled a 2005 paper from The Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI) and a month later, he retracted a 2003 paper from The Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC), both times citing duplications that the authors said were introduced while assembling the figures.
Last month, Kahn retracted his third paper, also published in JBC in 2003, because the authors omitted data when constructing the images. Still, the authors remain confident in their findings, given that data from other labs “have confirmed and extended the conclusions of the manuscript.”
Here’s the retraction notice:
This article has been withdrawn by the authors. In many of the experiments reported in this study, cells from mice of four genotypes were used (wild-type, p85α−/−, p85α+/−, and p85β−/−), but data from only three of the genotypes (wild-type, p85α−/−, and p85β−/−) were included in the final paper. As a result, there was splicing of the figures of several autoradiograms, which led to several duplicated or mislabeled lanes in the Western blots in Figs. 2B, 3C, and 5B. Although the experimental data generated in the lab from the same time period support the original conclusions of the study, and the studies by this lab and others have confirmed and extended the conclusions of the manuscript, in the interest of maintaining accuracy in the published scientific literature and because the initial figures were not up to the standards of JBC, the authors wish to withdraw this article. The authors apologize for these errors.
“Positive and negative roles of p85α and p85β regulatory subunits of phosphoinositide 3-kinase in insulin signaling” has been cited 146 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters.
We reached out to Kahn for further details on how the duplication occurred.
Kaoru Sakabe—data integrity manager at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (which publishes JBC)—told us that a reader alerted them to the issues.
In 2015, a user on PubPeer flagged potential issues with several figures in this paper.
Other papers by Kahn have received corrections and many have been questioned on PubPeer. We’ve covered eight corrections for Kahn (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8). We’ve noted two other errata for Kahn (9, 10). Kahn and co-authors received a 2009 erratum for a 2009 study in Cell Metabolism because of “several errors in the figure labeling” as well as a 2007 corrigendum for a study in JCI, published that year, citing figure manipulation.
One of the co-authors on the latest retraction is Lewis C. Cantley, a cancer biologist based at Weill Cornell Medical College. Cantley is credited with the discovery of a signaling pathway essential for the growth and survival of normal and cancerous cells, research which won him the coveted $3 million inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences in 2013.
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