Nearly two years after a university asked for retractions, two journals have done nothing

How long should a retraction take?

That’s a complex question, of course, depending on how long the alleged issues with a paper take to be investigated, whether authors — and their lawyers — fight tooth-and-nail against a retraction, and other factors. But once a university officially requests a retraction, how long should one take?

The answer, for two journals who published work by cancer researcher Anil Jaiswal, is 22 months — and counting. Continue reading Nearly two years after a university asked for retractions, two journals have done nothing

Early data on potential anti-cancer compound now in human trials was falsified, company admits

A pharmaceutical company has admitted that one of its former researchers falsified early data on a compound that’s designed to fight cancer, now in human trials.

The data, published as an abstract in August 2015 in the journal Cancer Research, reported a therapeutic benefit of acalabrutinib in a mouse model of pancreatic cancer. The compound, developed by the company Acerta Pharma, has also been the subject of additional trials published in the New England Journal of Medicine and Blood in 2015. The 2015 NEJM study, which had several authors in common with the Cancer Research abstract, showed the agent had “promising safety and efficacy profiles in patients” with relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

But an investigation into the data underlying the 2015 abstract shows some were falsified, prompting the journal to retract the abstract.

Ed Tucker, senior vice president of Medical Safety, Quality and Compliance at Acerta Pharma, told us that in August 2016 the company identified an issue with the data in the Cancer Research abstract and started an investigation:

Continue reading Early data on potential anti-cancer compound now in human trials was falsified, company admits

UCSF, VA investigations find “clear evidence” of misconduct in cancer papers

Earlier this year, the University of California, San Francisco and the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center teamed up to write a letter.

Addressed to the editorial office at the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), the letter, parts of which have been published in a retraction notice, contained information concerning two papers on genetic risk factors for a type of kidney cancer and a type of uterine cancer, respectively, published in different AACR journals over a decade ago by researchers affiliated with the institutions.

The papers had been at the center of research misconduct investigations at both UCSF and the VA and the investigations came to the conclusion that both papers contained:

fabrication or falsification of data that constitutes Research Misconduct.

Though one of the papers has been retracted, it’s unclear what will happen to the other. [Note: See update at the bottom of the post.] Continue reading UCSF, VA investigations find “clear evidence” of misconduct in cancer papers

“The article must be retracted:” Journal pulls prostate cancer study

A 2016 paper exploring the biology of prostate cancer has been retracted due to figure manipulation.

According to the retraction notice, a reader contacted the journal Clinical Cancer Research in late 2016 with concerns that similar bands appeared multiple times in two images. The editors asked the paper’s corresponding author, Shahriar Koochekpour, about the issue and requested the raw data for the figures. But Koochekpour, based in the Departments of Cancer Genetics and Urology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, at the time of the study, could not locate the raw data.

Since the lab did not have raw data from such a relatively recent paper, the editors reached out to the research integrity officer at Roswell Park Cancer Institute to investigate. Indeed,  the research integrity officer contacted confirmed that two figures were problematic, and requested the paper be retracted.

Here’s the rather detailed retraction notice, published in July 2017, for “GRM1 is An Androgen-Regulated Gene and its Expression Correlates with Prostate Cancer Progression in Pre-Clinical Models:” Continue reading “The article must be retracted:” Journal pulls prostate cancer study

Drip, drip: UCLA investigation finds more image duplications

Image duplications and unsupported data continue to plague a network of cancer researchers that includes the former vice chancellor for research at the University of California, Los Angeles, James Economou.

On July 2, the editors at Cancer Research retracted a 2011 paper that Economou published as last author, saying it suffered from image duplication and unsupported figures. This is the second retraction we’re aware of to come out of an investigation by UCLA’s Office of Research Policy and Compliance that has touched this group of scientists.

Here’s the notice for “Molecular Mechanism of MART-1+/A*0201+ Human Melanoma Resistance to Specific CTL-Killing Despite Functional Tumor–CTL Interaction,” which says the retraction comes at the request of UCLA: Continue reading Drip, drip: UCLA investigation finds more image duplications

Former UCLA vice-chancellor loses cancer paper for image manipulation

The former vice chancellor for research at the University of California, Los Angeles, has retracted a 2012 paper after an internal investigation found evidence of image manipulation.

The journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics received a letter about the problems with the paper from the UCLA Research Integrity Officer, and a retraction request from last author James Economou, also the chief of surgical oncology.

According to the notice, the paper duplicated images from a 2011 paper also by first author Ali Jazirehi, based at UCLA. This is Jazirehi’s second retraction.

Here’s more from the notice:

Continue reading Former UCLA vice-chancellor loses cancer paper for image manipulation

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.

Cancer org bestows award on scientist under investigation

Carlo Croce

This month hasn’t been all bad for Carlo Croce. Despite issuing two corrections and being the subject of a lengthy New York Times article about how he’s dodged misconduct accusations for years (prompting his institution to re-open an investigation), Croce is now the recipient of a prestigious award from the American Association for Cancer Research.

In a recent news release, the AACR announced it was bestowing Croce the 11th Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research, named after the CEO of the AACR, for his work in the field.

According to the news release:

Continue reading Cancer org bestows award on scientist under investigation

3rd retraction appears for fired Pfizer breast cancer researcher

Pfizer has retracted a paper by a former employee who was fired after the company discovered she had been doctoring data.

The retraction, in Molecular Cancer Research, is the third of five papers Pfizer asked to retract, after an investigation discovered they contained duplicated images. The papers have been discussed on PubPeer, which is also mentioned in the latest retraction notice.

As a result of the investigation, Pfizer terminated the employment of Min-Jean Yin, the last author on the newly retracted paper.

According to the notice, Yin and five of her co-authors agreed to the retraction:

Continue reading 3rd retraction appears for fired Pfizer breast cancer researcher

Breast cancer studies by fired Pfizer employee retracted

Last year, Pfizer fired one of its scientists following an investigation that ended with requests for retraction of five of her studies. Now, two of the five papers, which were first flagged on PubPeer, have been retracted.

One notice cites the Pfizer investigation, which found that cancer researcher Min-Jean Yin had included duplicated images in all five papers. Yin is the last author on both retracted papers.

Here’s the first notice from Clinical Cancer Research, which says most or all of the questioned images appear to be duplicates, and Pfizer — who sponsored the study and requested the retraction — can’t find the originals:
Continue reading Breast cancer studies by fired Pfizer employee retracted