A researcher at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital is retracting a paper due to “inappropriate manipulation and fabrication of data” by the first author.
According to the retraction notice, published Aug. 22, corresponding author Marian DiFiglia is retracting the paper because the alleged misconduct by the first author, Antonio Valencia:
led to an incorrect conclusion in the paper that NADPH activity is elevated in Huntington’s disease (HD). Some original data were missing and efforts to replicate findings using the reported method or an alternative approach were unsuccessful. An institutional faculty panel supports the decision and the reasons for the retraction.
The notice added that the alleged data manipulation and fabrication affected bar graphs in two of the paper’s figures.
Regular Retraction Watch readers may recall a remarkable story from January involving Harvard’s Lee Rubin and one of his graduate students. As we reported in Science at the time, the graduate student, Gustavo German, said he had been subjected to a forced psychiatric evaluation as “an act of revenge by Rubin, retaliation prompted by German’s allegation of scientific misconduct against Rubin and two of his students.” And a judge “agreed with German, concluding [last August] that Rubin was ‘motivated by bias and revenge, not by a legitimate interest in keeping German safe.'”
That led to a restraining order that required Rubin to remain 100 feet from German at all times — including in the lab where German was working on his PhD.
A prominent diabetes researcher based at Harvard Medical School has retracted a third paper, citing manipulation of multiple figures.
Late last year, Carl Ronald Kahn—also chief academic officer at Joslin Diabetes Center—retracted two papers for similar reasons. In November, Kahn pulled a 2005 paper from The Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI) and a month later, he retracted a 2003 paper from The Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC), both times citing duplications that the authors said were introduced while assembling the figures.
Last month, Kahn retracted his third paper, also published in JBC in 2003, because the authors omitted data when constructing the images. Still, the authors remain confident in their findings, given that data from other labs “have confirmed and extended the conclusions of the manuscript.”
The former president of the Joslin Diabetes Center has withdrawn a second article within a month of his first, and issued extensive corrections to another paper in the same journal, all due to figure errors.
In November, we reported that Carl Ronald Kahn — also affiliated with Harvard Medical School — had pulled a highly cited 2005 paper from The Journal of Clinical Investigation because of image duplication issues, which Kahn told us were introduced during figure assembly. This December, Kahn retracted a 2003 paper published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC)—again due to duplication issues that the authors believe “were inadvertently introduced during figure assembly.”
Last March, a PhD student at Harvard filed a misconduct allegation against his mentor, a prominent stem cell researcher. Three months later, he was taken from his home by police in the middle of the night for a forced psychiatric evaluation.
Retraction Watch readers may recall the case of Piero Anversa and Annarosa Leri, both formerly of Harvard and the Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. The pair — which has had their work subjected to a retraction, expression of concern, and correction — sued their former employers in 2014 for costing them job offers after the institutions notified journals, triggering notices. A judge dismissed the case a year ago, saying that Anversa and Leri had to try other administrative remedies before bringing suit.
A cancer researcher has added a fifth retraction to his name — but the notice doesn’t mention any problems with the paper itself.
Rather, the Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia decided to retract the paper because it referenced other papers that had been retracted as a result of data manipulation.
The notice doesn’t specify which references were problematic, but the list includes three papers that are now retracted; all three include Scott Valastyan (the sole author of the newly retracted paper) as first author, and two list Robert Weinberg, his former supervisor and prominent cancer researcher, as last author.
The venerable publication about religious matters is refusing to retract a 2014 article by a noted scholar of early Christianity despite evidence that the article — about Jesus’s wife — was based on a forgery.
After an investigation found evidence of misconduct, a biologist has issued a third retraction.
Sudarsanareddy Lokireddy — now a research fellow at Harvard Medical School — “admitted falsification,” a Research Integrity Officer at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore told us in December. According to The Scientist, another journal has also published a correction that the authors had requested earlier.
We always like to get a historical perspective on how scientists have tried to correct the record, such as this attempt in 1756 to retract a published opinion about some of the work of Benjamin Franklin. Although that 18th century note used the word “retract,” it wasn’t a retraction like what we see today, in which an entire piece of writing is pulled from the record. These modern-day retractions are a relatively recent phenomenon, which only took off within the last few decades, according to science historian Alex Csiszar at Harvard University. He spoke to us about the history of retractions – and why an organization like Retraction Watch couldn’t have existed 100 years ago.