Former UCLA vice-chancellor loses cancer paper for image manipulation

The former vice chancellor for research at the University of California, Los Angeles, has retracted a 2012 paper after an internal investigation found evidence of image manipulation.

The journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics received a letter about the problems with the paper from the UCLA Research Integrity Officer, and a retraction request from last author James Economou, also the chief of surgical oncology.

According to the notice, the paper duplicated images from a 2011 paper also by first author Ali Jazirehi, based at UCLA. This is Jazirehi’s second retraction.

Here’s more from the notice:

The AACR Publications Department received a letter from the Research Integrity Officer for UCLA notifying the Journal that an internal investigation revealed data used in some of the figures cannot be supported; specifically, bands in lanes 2 and 3 in the β-actin panel in Fig. 3C are duplicates of bands in lanes 1 and 2 in the M202R1 HMG-1 panel in Fig. 4C in a 2011 Cancer Research article. In addition, bands in lanes 4 and 5 in the β-actin panel in Fig. 3C are duplicates of bands in lanes 4 and 5 of the M329R1 HMG-1 panel in Fig. 4C in the same Cancer Research article. The AACR Publications Department also received a separate retraction request from the author (J.S. Economou). Both authors have been notified of this retraction.

Proteasome Inhibition Blocks NF-κB and ERK1/2 Pathways, Restores Antigen Expression, and Sensitizes Resistant Human Melanoma to TCR-Engineered CTLs” has been cited eight times since it was published in 2012, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters.

The 2011 paper it supposedly duplicated from, in Cancer Research — also published by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) — has been cited 21 times.

This is not the first time Jazirehi was involved with work retracted for image duplication. He was a middle author on one of two papers from a UCLA lab that were retracted last year for that reason.

We’ve reached out to Jazirehi and Economou for comment, both directly and through UCLA’s media relations office.

UCLA’s Research Integrity Officer, Interim Vice Chancellor for Research Ann Karagozian, declined to provide more information about the investigation that triggered the retraction.

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