Gene therapy researcher Savio Woo retracts two more papers

courtesy Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Mount Sinai School of Medicine researcher Savio Woo, whom Retraction Watch reported last week has already retracted four papers from major journals as two postdocs have been fired from his lab, has retracted two more from Molecular Therapy: The Journal of the American Society of Gene Therapy.

The two papers, both from 2007, were Continue reading Gene therapy researcher Savio Woo retracts two more papers

Update on gene therapy researcher Savio Woo retractions: Two post-docs dismissed for fraud

More on the case of Savio Woo, the New York gene therapy researcher who, as Retraction Watch reported  this week, had several papers pulled by noted journals.

Two of Woo’s post-doctoral fellows at Mount Sinai School of Medicine were dismissed for “research misconduct,” said Ian Michaels, a spokesman for the institution. According to Michaels:

When Dr. Savio L C Woo came to suspect that two post-doctoral fellows in his laboratory may have engaged in research misconduct he notified the Mount Sinai Research Integrity Office. Mount Sinai immediately initiated institutional reviews that resulted in both post-doctoral fellows being dismissed for research misconduct. At no time were there allegations that Dr. Woo had engaged in research misconduct. As part of its review, the investigation committee looked into this possibility and confirmed that no research misconduct could be attributed to Dr. Woo, who voluntarily retracted the papers regarding the research in question. Mount Sinai reported the results of its investigations to the appropriate government agencies and continues to cooperate with them as part of its commitment to adhere to the highest standards for research integrity.

We have plenty of other questions for Mount Sinai about the details of the investigation—including when the post-docs were let go, which Michaels declined to answer—and will update when we learn more.

Work from noted gene therapy researcher Savio Woo under scrutiny with slew of retractions

Research from the lab of Savio Woo, a leading U.S. gene therapy scientist, has come into question with the retraction by major journals of at least four of his articles.

The papers, which appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and Human Gene Therapy, involve findings published between 2005 and 2009, address various aspect of gene therapy. Two of the articles boasted of potential breakthroughs, and even a possible cure, for diseases with extremely high rates of mortality.

The study in JNCI, for example, reported the finding of a genetically modified bacterium that showed promise for the treatment of pancreatic cancer, a particularly lethal malignancy, and other tumor types. Another, published in 2005 in PNAS, claimed to have discovered a possible cure for phenylketonuria, or PKU, in mice—a finding that was cited more than 30 times and trumpeted in the media.

However, in a retraction notice issued this month, Woo wrote that: Continue reading Work from noted gene therapy researcher Savio Woo under scrutiny with slew of retractions

What happens after a retraction for falsified data? An example from Endocrinology

In the world of scientific misconduct, it’s often worth keeping track of what happens to scientists whose papers were retracted because of falsified or otherwise fraudulent results.

Take the case of Hung-Shu Chang. Last week, the the federal Office of Research Integrity announced that it had closed its investigation into the scientist’s misdeeds. Chang was a visiting postdoctoral researcher from Taiwan who in 2005 had come to the renowned Skinner Laboratory at Washington State University to study the effects of endocrine disruptors — a class of compounds that includes BPA and which have been shown to disrupt the action of hormones — on sex cells.

Chang was accused of falsifying data in a 2006 paper in Endocrinology — later retracted — reporting the damaging effects of vinclozolin, a fungicide used to protect vineyards, on the genetic integrity of sperm cells.

According to federal and university investigators, Chang, who has since returned to Taiwan, “fabricated and falsified data” central to the authors’ claim that vinclozolin could alter sperm in such a way that the mutations could cause disease in future generations. Such mutations are referred to as epigenetic changes. Continue reading What happens after a retraction for falsified data? An example from Endocrinology

Double trouble: Psych journal prints PTSD paper twice

Aging & Mental Health “welcomes original contributions” to fill its pages.

Or not so original. Last November, the journal published a study by two California researchers which looked at the possible effects of post-traumatic stress disorder on physical well-being in older women – and found no evidence of such a link.

Six months later, the journal published the findings again.

It issued a retraction earlier this month, which included the following: Continue reading Double trouble: Psych journal prints PTSD paper twice

Did a NOAA scientist “retract” an overoptimistic oil spill report?

Photo by Mindful Walker http://www.flickr.com/photos/27530874@N03/ via flickr

Yesterday, on a story about a Congressional hearing on the progress of oil spill cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico, the Guardian ran the following headline:

BP oil spill: US scientist retracts assurances over success of cleanup

NOAA’s Bill Lehr says three-quarters of the oil that gushed from the Deepwater Horizon rig is still in the Gulf environment while scientists identify 22-mile plume in ocean depths

The story, as do those in the Los Angeles Times, The Hill, and the New Orleans Times-Picayune, among others, point out that Lehr’s testimony seemed at odds with the almost celebratory atmosphere surrounding the release of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report two weeks ago, “BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Budget: What Happened To the Oil?”

The coverage yesterday also noted that other scientists have criticized the report, and that a study in Science this week suggests there’s still an underwater plume of oil in the Gulf.

But did Lehr actually “retract” assurances over the cleanup’s success, or the report itself? Continue reading Did a NOAA scientist “retract” an overoptimistic oil spill report?

American Cancer Society drops ‘Screening is Seeing’ ad campaign

When we started Retraction Watch, Gary Schwitzer suggested that one of us might be a vampire.

Well, Schwitzer, let us say this: You are no Jesus.

However, criticism leveled by Schwitzer at an American Cancer Society (ACS) ad campaign earlier this week has accomplished the Retraction Watch equivalent of turning water into wine. The campaign, he wrote, Continue reading American Cancer Society drops ‘Screening is Seeing’ ad campaign

Shifting gears: Occupational health journal pulls study linking shift work, age and sleep disorders

Blaming “data coding errors,” the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health has pulled an article linking shift work, age and sleeping problems.

The study was published four months ago, but managed in its brief lifespan to garner significant attention in the mainstream media and the blogosphere, although it has not been cited by any other papers. It comes alongside growing interest in the potential lnks between shift work and various health conditions including irritable bowel syndrome and breast cancer. Denmark even awards damages to shift workers who have developed the latter.

Ironically, the researchers, led by Philip Tucker, of Swansea University in Wales, U.K., had hoped to demonstrate the toll of shift work that previous studies were unable to show conclusively because of “methodological difficulties”: Continue reading Shifting gears: Occupational health journal pulls study linking shift work, age and sleep disorders

Monkey business? 2002 Cognition paper retracted as prominent psychologist Marc Hauser takes leave from Harvard

Marc Hauser, a prominent Harvard psychology researcher and author, will be taking a leave of absence from the university following “a lengthy internal investigation found evidence of scientific misconduct in his laboratory” that has led to the retraction of one of his papers, according to The Boston Globe.

The retraction, of a 2002 paper in Cognition, reads, in part: “An internal examination at Harvard University . . . found that the data do not support the reported findings. We therefore are retracting this article,” the Globe reports.  It also includes the sentence “MH accepts responsibility for the error.”

The retraction notice does not yet appear anywhere on the journal’s site, where the PDF version of the study is still available, nor on the Medline abstract. Its circumstances appear to be atypical, according to the Globe: Continue reading Monkey business? 2002 Cognition paper retracted as prominent psychologist Marc Hauser takes leave from Harvard

2005 PNAS Arabidopsis cold sensitivity gene paper retracted

There’s a retraction this week from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of a paper that first appeared online on July 1, 2005 (and which is still available, but notes under “this article” that “a retraction has been published”). The paper reports on a study that allegedly found a gene that made Arabidopsis plants — a favorite model of molecular biologists — “extremely sensitive to freezing temperatures, completely unable to acclimate to the cold,” and very sensitive to salt.

In other words, the Arabidopsis version of our relatives in Florida.

From the retraction:
Continue reading 2005 PNAS Arabidopsis cold sensitivity gene paper retracted