In 2011, the University of Florida assembled a misconduct report about one of its ob-gyn researchers, identifying falsified data in a 2010 paper. But when an investigator at the U.S. Office of Research Integrity reviewed the report, something didn’t feel right.
“I reviewed the data, and I thought [UF] didn’t do their due diligence,” said Kristen Grace, then an ORI investigator, now heading up the compliance department of the Office of Clinical Research at the University of Pennsylvania. “Because the extent of the the falsification was so great.”
The latest retraction stems from an investigation by the University of Florida, where Nasser Chegini worked until 2012, which found fabricated data in three figures in a paper on the muscle cells that line the uterus.
The paper, “Differential expression of microRNAs in myometrium and leiomyomas and regulation by ovarian steroids,” was published in The Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. It’s been cited 74 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
The eighth paper, in the journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, is about the effect of a compound used during fertility treatments on Smads, signaling molecules that carry messages from TGF-beta receptors to the nucleus. It’s being retracted disappeared due to the discovery of data that “have been fabricated or falsified by the last author” — namely, Chegini.
Both retractions appear in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. The notices indicate that an investigation report from the University of Florida “found substantial data misrepresentation” in two JCEM articles about Smads, signaling molecules that carry messages from TGF-beta receptors to the nucleus.
Here’s the notice for “The Expression of Smads in Human Endometrium and Regulation and Induction in Endometrial Epithelial and Stromal Cells by Transforming Growth Factor-Beta” (cited 28 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge):
A prominent researcher at the University of Florida is under federal investigation for research misconduct and has lost at least one paper as a result of the fraud.
The researcher, Nasser Chegini, was a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the U of Florida until about six months ago, when he retired, according to the chair’s office. Nasser has received at least $4 million in federal grant funding, according to the university.
The retracted paper, “MicroRNA 21: response to hormonal therapies and regulatory function in leiomyoma, transformed leiomyoma and leiomyosarcoma cells,” was published in 2010 by Molecular Human Reproduction. The authors were Qun Pan and Xiaoping Luo and Chegini.