A pathology journal is retracting two papers after an investigation at the last author’s institution in Germany found evidence of scientific misconduct.
The notice for both papers cites an investigation involving Regine Schneider-Stock, who studies cancer biology at the Friedrich Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU). Meanwhile, another 2005 paper that lists Schneider-Stock as the first author was retracted in October, noting evidence of image manipulation.
The most recent retractions, from the American Journal of Pathology, note that FAU declined to provide the journal with details of its investigation beyond a prepared statement:
A biologist at the University of Georgia has lost a paper after an investigation revealed she had tampered with three images.
In 2014, Azza El-Remessy notched three retractions for a series of image errors. Now, a fourth retraction notice, and an expression of concern, explain there has been an investigation into her work. The investigation — conducted by two Georgia institutions, along with the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where El-Remessy has additional appointments — has found evidence of misconduct.
A third retraction — and a notice of concern — have emerged from the investigation into a husband and wife research team at the University of Toronto that found evidence of faked images and duplicated data.
According to the retraction note, co-author Gillian E. Wu of York University signed off on the journal’s decision, but Asa, Ezzat and second author Lei Zheng dissented to the retraction. Third author Xian-Feng Zhu couldn’t be reached. Although corresponding author Asa noted that “the initial screen of these samples support the conclusions made in the paper,” the JCI made its position perfectly clear in the note:
Sylvia Asa was the Program Medical Director of the Laboratory Medicine Program at the University Health Network, affiliated with the University of Toronto, until this past spring when she stepped down, according to UHN spokesperson Gillian Howard:
The American Journal of Pathology has posted a note of concern to a 2002 paper about retinoblastoma after discovering two sets of figures “share significant overlap… suggesting that they did not originate from different specimens.”
The overlap was “simultaneously brought to the attention of the Editors” by both the corresponding author and a “concerned reader.”
The paper examined the role of a transcription factor called NF-kappaB in driving retinoblastoma, and suggested that inhibiting the molecule’s activity could be a therapeutic strategy.
The authors attribute the overlap to “an inadvertent misidentification of the original files at the stage of image capture.” They add that they “sincerely regret this inadvertent error;” because other data in the paper show “concordant results,” they stand by the paper’s findings.
A duplicated figure has resulted in an expression of concern for a paper in the American Journal of Pathology on a treatment for ocular neovascularization, which causes vision loss.
According to the notice, the corresponding author, David Shima, now at University College London, brought his concern to the journal. He called it a “genuine error” and stated that all the findings had been reproduced.
Unfortunately, Shima claimed the original data are missing, because the institution that owned the information — Eyetech Research Center — has “since gone through several acquisitions.”
Ocular neovascularization occurs when growth signals in the eye stimulate the creation of many new blood vessels. Over time these blood vessels break, causing bleeding and scarring that limits vision. This is called “wet” macular degeneration.
The scientists found that giving patients drugs to limit two different growth factors at the same time is more effective than one at stopping the progression of AMD. This combination method is in stage three clinical trials, though with different drugs than the authors used here.
The paper, published in 2006, has been cited 130 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. Here’s the EoC for “Inhibition of Platelet-Derived Growth Factor B Signaling Enhances the Efficacy of Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Therapy in Multiple Models of Ocular Neovascularization”:
For one, many of the images were copied from another paper. In addition, one of the authors did not disclose that he was the president of a related company, nor that his company provided reagents for the experiments.