Retraction from Science – Missing Misconductor

Today in Science, Drs. Roberts, Sivaguru, and Yong retract an article published in Feb 2006 about which the editor, Donald Kennedy, published an Editorial Expression of Concern in Oct 2006 based on an ongoing investigtation of possible misconduct. The remaining authors clearly spent some thoughtful time wording this retraction, particularly the apology to the scientific community for not protecting their interests:

“We wish to retract our Report “CDX2 gene expression and trophectoderm lineage specification in mouse embryos” (1). Allegations of research misconduct were received by the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) Provost, and an investigation found that the first author (K.D.) engaged in research misconduct by intentionally falsifying and fabricating digital images in the preparation of Figs. 4I; 4N; 4S; 2G; 3, J to L; S2, V to X; and S6, I to K accompanying the Science article. In addition, the original raw image files for the majority of the figures in the paper have not been located (the exceptions being the confocal scanning images in Figs. S1, S3, S4, S5, and S6), raising the possibility that the data they represent may also be suspect. We have decided to withdraw the article in its entirety in view of the fact that the paper was founded at least in part on falsified or fabricated images.

The corresponding author (R.M.R.) takes responsibility for placing excessive trust in his co-worker and for not assuring that a complete set of raw data existed at the time the questions first arose about the paper. We deeply regret any scientific misconceptions that have resulted from the publication of this article.

The first author resigned from MU shortly after the allegations of research misconduct were received and could not be found to sign the retraction.”

One wonders if the elusive and suspect author will resurface elsewhere as Eric Poehlman did, slipping across the border to Canada and neglecting to mention the minor ethical shadow overhanging him. Nature reports he has fled the country.

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