Former director earns two-year funding ban after misconduct finding

A researcher found guilty of misconduct earlier this year has been temporarily banned from funding by the German Research Foundation.

The Foundation’s decision, issued on Dec. 14, 2017, comes six months after the Leibniz Association, made up of 91 independent research institutions, found Karl Lenhard Rudolph guilty of “grossly negligent scientific misconduct.” The research body identified “errors in data representation” in eight of 11 papers and found Rudolph responsible for the issues in seven of them. In June, the Leibniz Association sanctioned Rudolph, and announced he was no longer directing the Leibniz Institute on Aging – Fritz Lipmann Institute.

On Dec. 14, the German Research Foundation (DFG) issued its own sanctiona two-year ban on Rudolph’s “right to request funding”and a written reprimand for “misrepresentations” in three papers with DFG funding. A spokesperson for DFG told us that the wording of the reprimand is “confidential” but indicated the papers in question—a 2012 paper in Cell, which received an erratum in 2014; a 2015 paper in The EMBO Journal, corrected in October 2017; and a 2014 paper in Nature Communications. Rudolph is corresponding author on all three, which have been collectively cited 201 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

According to the DFG decision, which we translated via One Hour Translation:

After considering several written statements from Rudolph, the final report of the investigation by the Leibniz Association and a personal hearing with Rudolph, the DFG committee enquiry into the allegations of scientific misconduct reached the conclusion that misrepresentations had occurred in a total of three publications with DFG funding. Rudolph was the final author and corresponding author of these publications, and in the opinion of the committee, could and should have identified these misrepresentations, as he himself also acknowledged during the course of the investigation.

A spokesperson explained that DFG made its decision on December 14 “in the most recent meeting of its Joint Committee,” because this was the committee’s “first opportunity” to finalize its ruling following the misconduct findings by Leibniz.

Rudolph, who now leads the research group on stem cell aging at the Fritz Lipmann Institute, told us:

I regret that I did not notice the errors in data depiction in 3 of my DFG-funded publications. Here I did not do justice to my responsibility as a last author and to my own expectations. I accept the judgment of the DFG and take it as a challenge to fully live up to my responsibility as a scientist and group leader. This includes rigorous correction of the mistakes and the implementation of measures to ensure the best possible prevention of such errors in the future. I thank the DFG for the clear statement that the questioned publications were not based on falsifications.

In July, the Leibniz Association issued a press release stating that it had decided to re-fill Rudolph’s position as director of the Leibniz Institute on Aging – Fritz Lipmann Institute, after discovering his misconduct.

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2 thoughts on “Former director earns two-year funding ban after misconduct finding”

  1. It is good to know that in Germany negligent is still considered as a misconduct. In to many US Universities, scientific negligence is deeply rooted in the institution culture, and will not be investigated by the institute research integrity officer (who will consider as misconduct deliberate and purposeful data fabrication).

  2. Two 2018 corrections for Karl Lenhard Rudolph.

    Cancer Res. 2005 Aug 15;65(16):7393-402.
    Telomerase-dependent virotherapy overcomes resistance of hepatocellular carcinomas against chemotherapy and tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand by elimination of Mcl-1.
    Wirth T1, Kühnel F, Fleischmann-Mundt B, Woller N, Djojosubroto M, Rudolph KL, Manns M, Zender L, Kubicka S.
    Author information
    Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endocrinology, Medical School Hannover, Hannover, Germany.

    2018 correction.
    “In the original version of this article (1), in Fig. 3, the images of the cell lines Hep3B and Huh7 infected with either Ad-wt or hTERT-Ad were used twice (top rows of panels B and C) because only one representative picture was taken of the infected cells. The figure legend has been edited in the latest online PDF version of the article to explain the intentional display of the same images. The authors regret this error.”

    Cancer Res. 2003 Jun 15;63(12):3181-8.
    A telomerase-dependent conditionally replicating adenovirus for selective treatment of cancer.
    Wirth T1, Zender L, Schulte B, Mundt B, Plentz R, Rudolph KL, Manns M, Kubicka S, Kühnel F.
    Author information
    Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Endocrinology, Medical School Hannover, 30625 Hannover, Germany.

    2018 correction.
    “In the original version of this article (1), in Fig. 4C, the images depicting the effects of 1 MOI Ad-GFP, 10 MOI Ad-GFP, and 0.1 MOI ONYX-015 on Huh7 cells are incorrect. These errors do not change the conclusions of the study. The error has been corrected in the latest online PDF version of the article. The authors regret this error.”

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