a Duke researcher who posed as a Rhodes Scholar and appears to have invented key statistical analyses in a study of how breast cancer responds to chemotherapy[.The case] has sent ripples of angst through the cancer community. Potti’s antics prompted editors of The Lancet Oncology to issue an “expression of concern” — a Britishism that might be better expressed as “Holy Shit!” — about the validity of a 2007 paper in their journal by Potti and others.
There hasn’t been any further movement on The Lancet Oncology study, as far as we know, but on Friday the Raleigh News & Observerreported that one of Potti’s co-authors on a 2007 Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO) paper had requested a retraction: Continue reading A retraction in the Potti case?
Yesterday, we noted that Axel Ullrich, a decorated cancer researcher, had retracted two papers in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. The journal gave no explanation for the retractions, and our conversation with the publication director for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, which puts out the journal, was less than illuminating. This morning, Ullrich responded to all of the questions we sent him by email, and our follow-ups. The picture is now a lot more clear.
Amy Wagers, an up and coming stem cell researcher at Harvard who made a name for herself as a postdoc early by questioning the work of others, has retracted a January 2010 paper she co-authored in Nature. According to the retraction:
Three of the authors (J.L.S., F.S.K. and A.J.W.) wish to retract this Article after a re-examination of the publication raised serious concerns with some of the reported data. These concerns have undermined the authors’ confidence in the support for the scientific conclusions reported, specifically the role of osteopontin-positive niche cells in the rejuvenation of haematopoietic stem cells in aged mice. Although this matter is under further review, these authors wish to retract the paper in its entirety, and regret any adverse consequences that may have resulted from the paper’s publication. The retraction has not been signed by Shane R. Mayack, who maintains that the results are still valid.
Sometimes, apparently, a retraction isn’t enough to put research findings to bed forever. Consider this obituary recently posted online at the Journal of Pediatrics, for a method of detecting gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in children:
We commonly recognize the contributions of distinguished members of the pediatric community and, with regret, their passing. It is appropriate, therefore, that we acknowledge the timely death of an old friend, the pH probe. Crushed to death under the weight of evidence against it, it was found abandoned in a trash can with a note that read, ‘‘Good riddance to a bad test.’’
To be fair, the pH probe has always been the standard bearer for mediocrity.