We have a little more information on the lab-tech case out of the University of Chicago that we reported on last week. A brief summary: The journal Small retracted a 2007 paper on a method of producing insulin-secreting cells after one of the co-authors, a technician named Matthew Connors, was found to have fabricated a key figure. Connors has had a long career as a lab tech and his name has appeared on several published articles.
Reached by e-mail, Milan Mrksich, a chemistry professor at Chicago and a co-author of the retracted paper– as well as an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute — told us that the fraud surfaced during follow-up research: Continue reading Update on Small retraction: Co-author says failed follow-up led to detection of tech’s fraud
Readers of this blog are aware that many of the retractions we’ve covered involve the misadventures of post-docs. That makes some superficial sense: post-docs, after all, are trainees, and therefore might be more likely to make mistakes. They’re also hungry to break into their chosen specialty, and how better to do that than by producing spectacular results? (None of this is to say that post-docs are by nature incompetent or venal — only that the raw ingredients exist for typecast villainy.)
But one figure about whom we haven’t written (to the best of our knowledge) is the career lab tech — until today.
Matthew Connors was working as a tech at the University of Chicago (Chief Research Technologist, on his online resume) when he became a co-author on a 2007 study, published in the journal Small, purporting to show a technique for encapsulating pancreatic islet cells in a coating that’s opaque to the immune system. As the researchers explained: Continue reading Small problem: Nano-micro journal pulls diabetes paper with phony figure