“Data had been manipulated,” again: Swiss probe prompts two more retractions

A biologist at the University of Basel is retracting two papers, citing data manipulation uncovered during an institutional investigation. That investigation has already led to the retraction of a paper in Science Translational Medicine by some of the same authors earlier this year.

The two latest retractions, in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC), share the same  corresponding author — Michael Sinnreich, based at University of Basel — and first author, Bilal Azakir, who is now an assistant professor at Beirut Arab University. The retraction notices cite an investigation at the University of Basel.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Proteasomal inhibition restores biological function of mis-sense mutated dysferlin in patient-derived muscle cells:” Continue reading “Data had been manipulated,” again: Swiss probe prompts two more retractions

Author admits to manipulating more than a dozen images in 2013 paper

A former graduate student at the University of Hong Kong confessed to making “inappropriate modifications” to several figures in a 2013 paper in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC).

According to the retraction notice, the authors identified issues in 13 images while reviewing the data; the paper’s first author, Yingying Lu, copped to manipulating the figures. Even though “these modifications did not change the results or interpretations of this work,” the authors requested the paper be retracted.

The paper’s corresponding author, Jainbo Yue, previously based at the University of Hong Kong and now at the City University of Hong Kong, had nothing to add to the retraction notice, and told us that a “third person” is repeating the key experiments.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Two pore channel 2 (TPC2) inhibits autophagosomal-lysosomal fusion by alkalinizing lysosomal pH,” published in July: Continue reading Author admits to manipulating more than a dozen images in 2013 paper

“Some experiments were not performed appropriately:” Florida researchers lose two papers

Two molecular biologists have withdrawn two 2015 papers published in the same journal, citing image duplication and manipulation, among other issues.

One notice — published in June — explains that, after further investigation, the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) found certain experiments “were not performed appropriately.” The other notice cites “missing data” and notes that certain data “did not accurately represent experimental conditions.”

The authors of the papers—Daniel L. Kaplan, associate professor at Florida State University who heads a genomics lab, and Irina Bruck, assistant scholar scientist in Kaplan’s lab—also received a correction in JBC this month, which cites image duplication.

The three notices, all published this month in JBC, may reveal a pattern, but there’s still a lot we don’t know. One of the two papers was questioned on PubPeer. Several commenters flagged duplicated images and had questions about the antibody used.

Here’s one retraction notice, published this month: Continue reading “Some experiments were not performed appropriately:” Florida researchers lose two papers

Journal retracts nine papers in one day by author under investigation at the Weizmann Institute

On April 27, the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) retracted nine papers by a researcher based in Israel, including some dating back to 2000.

The reason: Image manipulation.

Michal Neeman, vice president of The Weizmann Institute of Science, told us that the researcher, Rony Seger, is under investigation following an allegation of misconduct affecting papers in multiple journals.

So far, we’ve found 11 retractions for papers by Seger, a molecular biologist. In the notices, the authors state they have “full confidence” in the findings, and in many instances have replicated the work.

According to Neeman:

Continue reading Journal retracts nine papers in one day by author under investigation at the Weizmann Institute

Paper by Harvard cancer biologist flagged over “credible concerns”

A cancer biologist at Harvard who’s issued multiple editorial notices in recent years has received an expression of concern about a 2011 paper, citing “credible concerns” with the data and conclusions.

The publisher does not detail the nature of the issues in the notice.

In the past few years, last author Sam W. Lee lost a Molecular Cell paper in 2013 due to figure duplication and a Journal of Biological Chemistry paper in 2015, citing “manipulated” data in a figure.

Lee also issued two mega-corrections in 2011 in Nature and Current Biology, which also cited figure duplication. Interestingly, both papers were corrected for a second time — the 2006 Current Biology paper in 2016, over figure-related errors, and the 2011 Nature paper in 2015, over concerns the animals used may have experienced excess suffering (prompting an editorial from the journal).

The latest notice, issued by the Journal of Biological Chemistry, doesn’t provide much information for the basis of its expression of concern over Lee’s 2011 paper: Continue reading Paper by Harvard cancer biologist flagged over “credible concerns”

A university asked for numerous retractions. Eight months later, three journals have done nothing.

Anil Jaiswal

When journals learn papers are problematic, how long does it take them to act?

We recently had a chance to find out as part of our continuing coverage of the case of Anil Jaiswal at the University of Maryland, who’s retracted 15 papers (including two new ones we recently identified), and has transitioned out of cancer research. Here’s what happened.

As part of a public records request related to the investigation, we received letters that the University of Maryland sent to 11 journals regarding 26 “compromised” papers co-authored by Jaiswal, four of which had been retracted by the time of the letter. The letters were dated between August and September 2016 (and one in February) — although, in some cases, the journals told us they received the letter later. Since that date, three journals have retracted nine papers and corrected another, waiting between four and six months to take action. One journal published an editorial note of concern within approximately two months after the university letter.

And six journals have not taken any public action.

Continue reading A university asked for numerous retractions. Eight months later, three journals have done nothing.

Harvard diabetes researcher retracts third paper

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.”

Here’s the retraction notice: Continue reading Harvard diabetes researcher retracts third paper

Job alert: Biology society hiring editors to screen images

A biology society is hiring three editors to screen images in submissions to its journal, Journal of Biological Chemistry — which we think is a great idea.

We don’t typically mention job ads on our site, except when they become relevant to cleaning up the literature — and with the latest job ad, the JBC joins the ranks of other journals that have taken a proactive stance against image problems, including manipulation. The publisher, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), plans to hire three “Technical Image Editors,” which will screen the images contained within the thousands of papers the journal publishes each year, many of which contain multiple panels and supplemental data.

Kaoru Sakabe, Data Integrity Manager at ASBMB, told us:

Continue reading Job alert: Biology society hiring editors to screen images

Journals retract paper, flag two others by cancer doc under investigation

Carlo Croce

This weekend, Carlo Croce had some reprieve from the misconduct accusations that have followed him for years (recently described in a lengthy article in the New York Times) and that have prompted his university to re-open an investigation. On Sunday, he received a prestigious award from the American Association for Cancer Research, honoring his work.

But the moment may have been short-lived. Today, Croce received two expressions of concern (EOCs) from PNAS for two well-cited papers published over a decade ago, on which Croce — chair of the Department of Cancer Biology and Genetics at The Ohio State University (OSU) — is last author. The two EOCs cite concerns over duplicated bands. What’s more, another journal recently decided to retract one of his papers, citing figures that didn’t represent the results of the experiments.

PNAS chose to issue EOCs, rather than retractions or corrections, because the authors didn’t agree that the bands were duplicated, according to executive editor Diane Sullenberger. She explained how the journal learned of the issues with the two papers: Continue reading Journals retract paper, flag two others by cancer doc under investigation

Scientist who sued university earns two more retractions, bringing total to five

A scientist who sued his employer for millions of dollars has earned two more retractions, for papers that had already been flagged by the journal.

By our count, Rakesh Kumar now has five retractions and multiple corrections.

Kumar sued his employer, George Washington University, for $8 million, alleging emotional distress when they put him on leave from his position as department chair following a finding of misconduct. That suit was settled last year, for undisclosed terms.

The two newest retractions in the Journal of Biological Chemistry — which tagged the papers with Expressions of Concern last year — both state that, according to Kumar, the problematic figures were assembled by “specific co-authors” — unnamed — in his lab. Here’s the first notice:

Continue reading Scientist who sued university earns two more retractions, bringing total to five