Findings of Research Misconduct

Notice is hereby given that ORI and the Assistant Secretary for Health have taken final action in the following case:

Based on the report of an investigation conducted by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and additional analysis conducted by ORI in its oversight review, ORI found that Boris Cheskis, PhD, former senior scientist, Discovery Research, Women’s Health, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, engaged in misconduct in science by intentionally falsifying Figures 5 and 6 in R01DK072026-01 (submitted to NIH on September 28, 2004) and Figures 6 and 9 in R01DK072026-01A2 (submitted to NIH on November 9, 2005).

Dr. Cheskis’ research was in an area of research (estrogen receptors and modulation of nongenomic phosphorylation cascades) that is of importance to women’s health. Dr. Cheskis’ team identified an adapter protein, MNAR, that coordinates interactions between certain nuclear receptors, Src and PI3K and may play important roles in regulation of cell proliferation and survival.

Both Dr. Cheskis and the US PHS were desirous of concluding this matter without further expense of time and other resources. Dr. Cheskis neither admits nor denies that ORI’s findings represent findings of research misconduct. The settlement is not an admission of liability on the part of the Respondent.

Dr. Cheskis has entered into a Voluntary Settlement Agreement. Dr. Cheskis has voluntarily agreed, for a period of 2 years, beginning on March 22, 2010:

(1) To exclude himself 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;

(2) That any institution that submits an application for PHS support for a research project on which the Respondent’s participation is proposed or that uses him in any capacity on PHS-supported research, or that submits a report of PHS-funded research in which he is involved, must concurrently submit a plan for supervision of his duties to the funding agency for approval; the supervisory plan must be designed to ensure the scientific integrity of his research contribution; respondent agreed that he will not participate in any PHS-supported research until such a supervisory plan is submitted to ORI.

This next one is also covered in The Scientist [h/t Federale] …

Notice is hereby given that ORI and the Assistant Secretary for Health have taken final action in the following case:

Based on the Respondent’s own admissions in sworn testimony and as set forth below, Indiana University (IU) and the US PHS found that Ms. Emily M. Horvath, former graduate student, IU, engaged in research misconduct in research supported by R01AT001846, F31AT003977, and R01DK082773 by falsifying the original research data when entering values into computer programs for statistical analysis with the goal of reducing the magnitude of errors within groups, thereby gaining greater statistical power.

Respondent admitted to falsifying Figures 6B, 18, 22, 23B, and 24 in grant application R01AT001846-06 (application was withdrawn in May 2009).

Respondent admitted to falsifying Figures 6B, 8, 9D, 16D, and 21 in R01DK082773-01.

Respondent admitted to falsifying Figures 2C, 5, 6D, and 11 in the publication: Horvath et al. Molecular Endocrinology 22:937-950, 2008.

Respondent admitted to falsifying Figure 2C in the publication: Bhonagiri et al. Endocrinology 150(4):1636-1645, 2009.

Respondent also admitted to falsifying Figures 2C, 5, 6D, 11, 13C, 15A, 16A, 17A, 18, 19C, and 20A, which are included in her thesis, “Cholesterol-dependent mechanism(s) of insulin-sensitizing therapeutics.’ The PhD was awarded on December 31, 2008. Respondent was supported by F31AT003977 (9/30/06-9/29/09).

Ms. Horvath has entered into a Voluntary Settlement Agreement in which she has voluntarily agreed, for a period of 3 years, beginning on March 22, 2010:

(1) To exclude herself 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;

(2) That any institution that submits an application for PHS support for a research project on which the Respondent’s participation is proposed or that uses her in any capacity on PHS-supported research, or that submits a report of PHS-funded research in which she is involved, must concurrently submit a plan for supervision of her duties to the funding agency for approval; the supervisory plan must be designed to ensure the scientific integrity of her research contribution; respondent agreed that she will not participate in any PHS-supported research until such a supervisory plan is submitted to ORI;

(3) That any institution employing her submits, in conjunction with each application for PHS funds or report, manuscript, or abstract of PHS-funded research in which the Respondent is involved, a certification that the data provided by the Respondent are based on actual experiments or are otherwise legitimately derived and that the data, procedures, analyses, and methodology are accurately reported in the application, report, manuscript, or abstract; the Respondent must ensure that the institution sends a copy of the certification to ORI; and

(4) That she will write letters, approved by ORI, to relevant journal editors of the published papers cited above to state what she falsified/fabricated and to provide corrections if she has not already done so. These letters should state that her falsifications/fabrications were the underlying reason for the retraction/corrections.

9 Comments »

  1. SG said

    So how did Dr. Cheskis manage to falsify data in the A0 and A2 grant apps but not the A1?

    I also don’t remember seeing this line before from ORI “Both Dr. Cheskis and the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) were desirous of concluding this matter without further expense of time and other resources. Dr. Cheskis neither admits nor denies that ORI’s findings represent findings of research misconduct. The settlement is not an admission of liability on the part of the Respondent.”

    Must have been written by the Wyeth lawyers.

  2. Rob said

    Sounds like both of these organizations should consider an enterprise grade, compliant Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN), and a set of appropriate signature workflows. Hindsight now of course, but a good cautionary tail for other organizations who are still on the fence as to whether a top quality ELN like CERF is worth the expense.

  3. bikemonkey said

    “Ms.” Horvath. Did the PhD. get retracted? This seems to imply that it did…

  4. bikemonkey said

    and why was she supported on the pre-doc fellowship for 9 mo after the supposed award of the PhD?

  5. Eli Rabett said

    A question: Can universities refuse to tell the complaintant of the outcome of the inquiry?

    • writedit said

      Each University should have its policy and procedures for investigating allegations of misconduct publicly available, which is where this sort of detail specific to an institution would be included. I would not expect any details of the investigation to be released, but I would expect the responsible authority to report back to the Complainant whether the investigation did or did not find evidence of misconduct.

      ORI has a nice section on their Website about handling misconduct: http://www.ori.hhs.gov/misconduct/

      Now, if a Complainant takes his or her allegation directly to ORI, he or she will know the outcome eventually. “If the allegation was not supported, ORI sends a copy of the report tothe institution and requests that the institution notify the respondentand whistleblower directly of the outcome of the investigation.” Of course, if the allegation is supported, we all eventually learn the outcome in the Federal Register and NIH Guide.

  6. […] Findings of Research Misconduct Based on the report of an investigation conducted by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and additional analysis conducted by ORI in its oversight review, ORI found that Boris Cheskis, PhD, former senior scientist, Discovery Research, Women’s Health, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, engaged in misconduct in science The Mikovits / XMRV research saga continues For those following the XMRV saga, or who simply like intrigue, the latest twist is that lead researcher Judy Mitovits, formerly of the Whittemore Peterson Institute—she was dismissed some time ago—has been arrested for theft of materials from the WPI. […]

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