Mount Sinai multiple sclerosis researcher admits to misconduct

Gareth John

A researcher who has received millions in funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and who runs a lab at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York has confessed to falsifying data in a 2014 paper.

Gareth John, who studies multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases, “has expressed remorse for his actions,” according to a report released last week from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Research Integrity.

John falsified data in two different figures in a 2014 paper in Development, “Combinatorial actions of Tgfβ and Activin ligands promote oligodendrocyte development and CNS myelination,” according to the report. In one figure, a Western blot, he “removed the lower set of bands, reordered the remaining bands and used those bands to represent the actin control,” among other falsifications, and in another, he cut and pasted bands “onto a blank background and used those false bands to create a graph.”

The paper was the subject of two comments on PubPeer in August 2014.

John, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Retraction Watch has, according to ORI,

notified Development that corrections to figures in the paper, but not to the text, including the conclusions in Development 2014 are required.

John has agreed to have his research supervised for a year, to not serve on committees including peer review committees at the U.S. National Institutes of Health for the same amount of time, and to follow up with Development to ensure they make the corrections he requested.

The paper has been cited 13 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science. John has received more than $7 million in in funding from the NIH, as well as funding from funding from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Bruce Bebo, Executive Vice President, Research, at the Society told Retraction Watch the organization was not aware of the investigation:

Thank you for alerting us to the decision regarding the investigation of misconduct related to the publication of data from Dr. John’s laboratory. This is unfortunate news about work from a highly regarded laboratory. We were not aware of this investigation, but we are reaching out to Mt. Sinai to learn more.

Dr. John himself had recently terminated the National MS Society’s research grant without providing reasons, and the project has been terminated. Otherwise, we would have terminated support as per our policies.

According to the lab’s website, John also receives funding from “the Guthy-Jackson Foundation, pharmaceutical and biotech industry collaborations, and private benefactors.”

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2 thoughts on “Mount Sinai multiple sclerosis researcher admits to misconduct”

  1. I agree! Researchers falsifying info, especially on a disease, is beyond disgusting. Any author caught even once should never again be allowed to publish another article.

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