Blood pulls deceased star oncologist’s paper after Stanford inquiry

Blood has retracted a 2011 article by a now-deceased Stanford researcher, Holbrook Kohrt,  who earlier this month lost two other papers over concerns about the whereabouts of the data. 

The journal’s move comes about a week after Retraction Watch posted a story on the previous retractions, in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI), of Kohrt’s work. As we noted then, Kohrt was a superstar young faculty member who died in 2016 of complications of hemophilia. He was the subject of this 2013 profile in the New York Times, which also wrote an obituary of him. 

The Blood paper was titled “CD137 stimulation enhances the antilymphoma activity of anti-CD20 antibodies.” The paper has been cited 148 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

A person familiar with the investigation told us that the three papers are the only ones slated for retraction. The person also said misconduct was not believed to be a factor in the case. 

Last week, Blood would not comment on the status of the paper in question. As with the two from JCI, the Blood retraction notice cites the lack of availability of data supporting several figures in the article: 

The Editors of Blood retract the 24 February 2011 paper cited above. Concerns regarding the data underlying Figures 3A, 3B, 3C, 4A, and 5C were brought to the attention of Stanford University. The university investigated the issue, conducting a search for any original sources of these data. The search was unsuccessful; the experiments, data, and figure preparation for these figures were overseen by Holbrook E. Kohrt, who passed away before the university became aware of the concerns. As a result, the data underlying these figures cannot be validated. Holbrook E. Kohrt is deceased and cannot consent to the retraction. Kipp Weiskopf, Ash A. Alizadeh, Josh Brody, Debra Czerwinski, Steven Coutre, Mark P. Chao, Thomas F. Tedder, and Ronald Levy approve the retraction. Roch Houot, Matthew J. Goldstein, Antonia M.S. Müller, Russell Pachynski, and Lieping Chen could not be reached for a response.

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