Findings of Research Misconduct

A hat trick, including cases demonstrating  a role for alert readers and the reason ORI must operate outside the NIH …

Notice is hereby given that ORI has taken final action in the following case:

Dong-Pyou Han, Ph.D., Iowa State University of Science and Technology: Based on the report of an inquiry conducted by the Iowa State University of Science and Technology (ISU), a detailed admission by the Respondent, and additional analysis conducted by ORI, ORI and ISU found that Dong-Pyou Han, PhD, former Research Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Services, ISU, engaged in research misconduct in research supported by grants P01AI074286, R33AI076083, and U19AI091031.

ORI and ISU found that the Respondent falsified results in research to develop a vaccine against HIV-1 by intentionally spiking samples of rabbit sera with antibodies to provide the desired results. The falsification made it appear that rabbits immunized with the gp41-54 moiety of the HIV gp41 glycoprotein induced antibodies capable of neutralizing a broad range of HIV-1 strains, when the original sera were weakly or non-reactive in neutralization assays. Falsified neutralization assay results were widely reported in laboratory meetings, 7 national and international symposia between 2010 and 2012, and in grant applications and progress reports. Specifically:

a. Respondent falsified research materials when he provided collaborators with sera for neutralization assays from (i) rabbits immunized with peptides from HIV gp41-54Q (and related antigens HR1-54Q, gp41-54Q-OG, gp41-54Q-GHC, gp41-54Q-Cys and Cys-gp41-54Q) to assay HIV neutralizing activity, when Respondent had spiked the samples with human IgG known to contain broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV-1; and (ii) rabbits immunized with HIV gp41-54Q to assay HIV neutralizing activity, when Respondent had spiked the samples with sera from rabbits immunized with HIV-1 gp120 that neutralized HIV.

b. Respondent falsified data files for neutralization assays, and provided false data to his laboratory colleagues, to make it appear that rabbits immunized with gp41-54Q and recombinant Lactobacillus expressing gp41-64 produced broadly reactive neutralizing antibodies, by changing the numbers to show that samples with little or no neutralizing activity had high activity.

Dr. Han has entered into a Voluntary Exclusion Agreement and has voluntarily agreed for a period of 3 years, beginning on November 25, 2013:

(1) To exclude himself from any contracting or subcontracting with any agency of the United States Government and from eligibility or involvement in nonprocurement programs of the United States Government referred to as “covered transactions’ pursuant to HHS’ Implementation (2 CFR Part 376 et seq) of OMB Guidelines to Agencies on Governmentwide Debarment and Suspension, 2 CFR Part 180 (collectively the “Debarment Regulations’); and

(2) To exclude himself voluntarily from serving in any advisory capacity to the U.S. PHS including, but not limited to, service on any PHS advisory committee, board, and/or peer review committee, or as a consultant.

More at Retraction Watch.

Notice is hereby given that ORI has taken final action in the following case:

Based on the report of an investigation conducted by SAIC-Frederick, Inc., and additional analysis conducted by ORI in its oversight review, ORI found that Timothy Sheehy, BA, BSc, former Manager, DNA Extraction and Staging Laboratory, SAIC-Frederick, Inc., the Operations and Technical Services Contractor for the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, Frederick, MD, engaged in research misconduct in research supported by NCI contract HHSN2612008000001E to SAIC-Frederick, Inc., and the intramural program at the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, NCI.

ORI found that the Respondent engaged in research misconduct by fabricating and/or falsifying U.S. PHS-supported data in Table 1 included in Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 19(4):973-977, 2010 (hereafter referred to as the “CEBP paper’). Specifically, ORI found that Respondent fabricated the quantitative and qualitative data for RNA and DNA purportedly extracted from 900 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) colorectal tissue samples presented in Table 1 of the CEBP paper and falsely reported successful methodology to simultaneously recover nucleic acids from FFPE tissue specimens, when neither the extractions nor analyses of the FFPE samples were done. Thus, the main conclusions of the CEBP paper are based on fabricated data and are false.

Mr. Sheehy has entered into a Voluntary Settlement Agreement and has voluntarily agreed for a period of 3 years, beginning on November 8, 2013:

(1) To have his research supervised; Respondent agreed that prior to the submission of an application for U.S. PHS support for a research project on which the Respondent’s participation is proposed and prior to Respondent’s participation in any capacity on PHS-supported research, Respondent shall ensure that a plan for supervision of his duties is submitted to ORI for approval; the supervision plan must be designed to ensure the scientific integrity of Respondent’s research contribution; Respondent agreed that he shall not participate in any PHS-supported research until such a supervision plan is submitted to and approved by ORI; Respondent agreed to maintain responsibility for compliance with the agreed-upon supervision plan;

(2) That any institution employing him shall submit, in conjunction with each application for PHS funds, or report, manuscript, or abstract involving PHS-supported research in which Respondent is involved, a certification to ORI that the data provided by Respondent are based on actual experiments or are otherwise legitimately derived and that the data, procedures, and methodology are accurately reported in the application, report, manuscript, or abstract;

(3) To exclude himself voluntarily from serving in any advisory capacity to PHS including, but not limited to, service on any PHS advisory committee, board, and/or peer review committee, or as a consultant; and

(4) That a letter will be submitted to the editors of CEBP requesting that the journal retract the publication.

More at Retraction Watch.

Notice is hereby given that ORI has taken final action in the following case:

Based on allegations made by readers of a published paper, additional review by the (NIH and ORI, and a limited admission by the Respondent that “some better looking strips were repeatedly used as representatives for several times [sic],’ ORI found that Baoyan Xu, MD, PhD, formerly a Postdoctoral Fellow, Hematology Branch, Systems Biology Center, NHLBI, and currently at the Institute of Infectious Diseases, Southwest Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chonqing, China, engaged in research misconduct in research supported by intramural research at NHLBI.

The questioned research involves a Western blot analysis of IgM and IgG antibodies from Chinese subjects in patients with non-A-E hepatitis and control subjects to test reactivity towards a newly discovered virus. Analysis of Figure 6 of the published paper and Figure S4 of the online supplemental information identified 13 pairs of Western blot bands which had a common origin yet were labeled as from different subjects and usually as detecting a different class of immunoglobulin. [notice includes full table]

The Respondent agreed to correction of Figures 6 and S4 of the PNAS paper [Xu, B., Zhi, N., Hu, G., Wan, Z., Zheng, X., Liu, X., Wong, S., Kajigaya, S., Zhao, K., Mao, Q., & Young, N.S. “Hybrid DNA virus in Chinese patients with seronegative hepatitis discovered by deep sequencing.’ Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (US) 110(25):10264-10269].

Dr. Xu has entered into a Voluntary Settlement Agreement and has voluntarily agreed for a period of 3 years, beginning on December 6, 2013:

(1) That prior to the submission of an application for U.S. PHS support (including NIH support) for a research project on which the Respondent’s participation is proposed, and prior to Respondent’s participation in any capacity on PHS-supported research, Respondent shall ensure that a plan for supervision of her duties is submitted to ORI for approval; the supervision plan must be designed to ensure the scientific integrity of Respondent’s research contribution; Respondent agrees that she shall not participate in any PHS-supported research until such a supervision plan is submitted to and approved by ORI; Respondent agrees to maintain responsibility for compliance with the agreed-upon supervision plan;

(2) That any institution employing her shall submit, in conjunction with each application for PHS funds, or report, manuscript, or abstract involving PHS-supported research in which Respondent is involved, a certification to ORI that the data provided by Respondent are based on actual experiments or are otherwise legitimately derived, that the data procedures, and methodology are accurately reported in the application, report, manuscript, or abstract, and that the text in such submission is her own or properly cites the source of copied language and ideas; and

(3) To exclude herself voluntarily from serving in any advisory capacity to PHS including, but not limited to, service on any PHS advisory committee, board, and/or peer review committee, or as a consultant.

More at Retraction Watch.

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1 Comment »

  1. writedit said

    Retraction Watch notes that Dr. Pyou-Han was arrested and faces federal felony charges of making false statements.

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