Prestigious cancer institute retracts studies following allegations of DATA FORGERY
By Olivia Cook // Jan 31, 2024

The prestigious Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), a principal teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, has retracted several studies and requested corrections in others following allegations of data forgery.

According to NBC News, the Boston-based DFCI requested the retraction of six studies and corrections in 31 others as part of an ongoing investigation into the allegations. The issue reportedly involved four of its administrators and senior cancer researchers.

"More than 50 papers, including four co-authored by [CEO] and President Dr. Laurie Glimcher, are part of a continuing review. Some requests for retractions and corrections have already been sent to journals, [while] others are being prepared. The [DFCI] has yet to determine whether misconduct occurred," said Dr. Barrett Rollins, the institute's research integrity officer.

He added that papers done by COO Dr. William Hahn, DFCI Clinical Investigator Research Program Director Dr. Irene Ghobrial and Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center Director Dr. Kenneth Anderson are also under investigation. The probe, dubbed the "latest tranche of misconduct allegations," is a serious blow to the four as they all have faculty appointments at Harvard Medical School (HMS).

"Research misconduct accusations are first assessed by affiliate institutions where the research was done," said an HMS spokesperson, adding that the medical school "thoroughly reviews all concerns." However, the spokesperson declined to comment on whether the four researchers involved are still connected with HMS.

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Fake science at DFCI exposed

A Jan. 2 blog post by molecular biologist Dr. Sholto David exposed the issue of research integrity at DFCI. David, an unemployed scientist with a doctorate in cell and molecular biology, has been spending the past three years scrutinizing research papers. His search focused on images with "clues that researchers and study authors have 'manipulated' in some way to portray misleading findings – perhaps duplicated, cropped or spliced or partially obscured." (Related: One in three science papers is FAKE, research finds.)

The molecular biologist has flagged issues in more than 2,000 papers on the PubPeer website, where researchers and scientists can critique and discuss published studies. His comments – which tend to be casual, conversational and informal – sometimes resulted in a correction or retraction. In some cases, they were met by a study author "dodging the questions raised – but often, were met with no response."

David described so-called "signs of image manipulations" in the DFCI research papers in his blog. The most serious proof of manipulated sturies, he argued, had images of experimental results that had "signs of copy-and-pasting by software, such as Adobe Photoshop." He pointed out: "Those are pixel-perfect matches for the same area, but it’s supposed to be a different sample."

The alleged manipulated images were of data, such as "western blots" – an important technique used in cell and molecular biology so researchers could identify specific proteins from a complex mixture of proteins extracted from cells.

Rollins told the Harvard Crimson in an emailed statement that David contacted DFCI and HMS regarding his concerns. The molecular biologist submitted a list of 57 papers that he found "problems" with. Of this 57, six have retractions underway; 31 are being corrected; 17 are still being evaluated; and three didn't require corrections or retractions.

Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) learned that Rollins was a co-author of two papers. Nevertheless, the research integrity officer said he is "recused from decisions involving those papers." The WSJ also noted that an undisclosed number of additional papers are also being reviewed.

"We knew about many of these papers and their allegations before the blog post," Rollins said. However, he declined to further describe details of the ongoing investigations citing "institute policy and federal rules directing misconduct investigations." has more stories like this.

Watch the following video about “Negative studies from the Dana-Farber Cancer Research Institute."

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More related stories:

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"I am angry": Black scholar who says Harvard Prez plagiarized her work is livid as 5th example emerges.

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