The corresponding author of the 2016 study that found high levels of the carcinogen formaldehyde leaking from a prominent British artist’s exhibition is now retracting it.
The study, about Damien Hirst’s 2012 exhibition at the Tate Gallery in London that presented dead animals embalmed in glass cases full of formaldehyde, suggested that higher than recommended limits of the carcinogen were being released from the exhibition. The study was widely covered by the media, which raised concerns over possible health hazardsto visitors.
A study that found high levels of the carcinogen formaldehyde leaking from an exhibition by a prominent British artist may have unreliable data, according to its corresponding author.
The 2016 study about Damien Hirst’s exhibition at the Tate gallery in London in 2012 — which involved keeping dead animals in formaldehyde in glass cases — sparked concern in the mainstreammedia over the exhibition’s potential hazards to visitors.
But now the corresponding author of the paper — Pier Giorgio Righetti of the Polytechnic University of Milan in Italy — has alerted the journal, Analytical Methods, of the paper’s shortcomings. The journal has issued an expression of concern (EOC), and is investigating.
The circumstances may be unclear, but one thing we do know: authorship issues often take down papers entirely. Since this just warranted a correction, the mistake could have just been an oversight, rather than pointing to a larger issue.
Here’s the note for “Formation of lipid/peptide tubules by IAPP and temporin B on supported lipid membranes:”
Kelly Wiggins and Christopher Bielawski share authorship on all the papers in question. After the first set of EoCs, Bielawski, at the time a PI at UT Austin, told Chemistry and Engineering News that a “former lab member” had admitted to faking the data. The recent retraction indicates that University of Texas at Austin’s Office of Research Integrity formally investigated the lab, and determined that Bielawski was telling the truth about a former lab member being to blame.
Bielawski has since taken a post at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea. He told us that move was unrelated to anything that happened at UT Austin, but declined to answer other questions. Wiggins got a postdoc at the University of Illinois, which an Illinois spokesperson confirmed lasted from July 1 2013 to January 22 2014; we’re waiting to hear back on our question about whether her departure had anything to do with misconduct.
Articles, like lawn furniture, aren’t supposed to rust after just two months. But the Journal of Materials Chemistry A has issued an Expression of Concern for a February 2014 paper by a group of chemists from India over possible problems with several figures in the article.
The paper, “Hierarchically macro/mesostructured porous copper oxide: Facile synthesis, Characterization, Catalytic performance and Electrochemical study of mesoporous copper oxide monoliths,” was written by Gowhar Ahmad Naikoo, of the department of chemistry at Dr. Hari Singh Gour Central University, in Sagar, and two colleagues. It purported to find that: