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Dana-Farber to Retract 6 Papers, Correct 31 Following Data Manipulation Claims

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute initiated retractions or corrections to 37 papers authored by four senior researchers following allegations of data falsification.
The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute initiated retractions or corrections to 37 papers authored by four senior researchers following allegations of data falsification. By Pei Chao Zhuo
By Veronica H. Paulus and Akshaya Ravi, Crimson Staff Writers

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute initiated retractions or corrections to 37 papers authored by four senior researchers following allegations of data falsification, a DFCI research integrity officer said on Sunday.

In the emailed statement to The Crimson, DFCI Research Integrity Officer Barrett J. Rollins wrote that six manuscripts have retractions underway and 31 are being corrected.

The corrections come amid claims of data manipulation against DFCI President and CEO Laurie H. Glimcher ’72, Executive Vice President and COO William C. Hahn ’87, Senior Vice President for Experimental Medicine Irene M. Ghobrial, and Harvard Medical School professor Kenneth C. Anderson. The allegations of misconduct were first compiled and publicized in a Jan. 2 blog post by data sleuth Sholto David.

In the statement, Rollins wrote that David contacted DFCI with allegations of data manipulation in 57 manuscripts. According to Rollins, 38 were articles in which DFCI researchers “have primary responsibility for the potential data errors.”

Rollins wrote that DFCI and the accused scientists have “taken prompt and decisive action” on 37 of the 38, with the final one still under investigation.

Despite the identification of errors, Rollins wrote that the “presence of image discrepancies in a paper is not evidence of an author’s intent to deceive.”

“That conclusion can only be drawn after a careful, fact-based examination which is an integral part of our response,” he added. “Our experience is that errors are often unintentional and do not rise to the level of misconduct.”

Of the remaining 19 papers, three “required no further action,” Rollins wrote, because the allegations “were not supported by our analysis.”

The final 16 manuscripts remain under investigation, as the data containing alleged manipulation was collected in laboratories not belonging to the four DFCI researchers, according to Rollins.

“Where possible, the heads of all of the other laboratories have been contacted and we will work with them to see that they correct the literature as warranted,” Rollins wrote.

“We are committed to a culture of accountability and integrity,” he added. “Every inquiry about research integrity is examined fully.”

—Staff writer Veronica H. Paulus can be reached at veronica.paulus@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @VeronicaHPaulus.

—Staff writer Akshaya Ravi can be reached at akshaya.ravi@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @akshayaravi22.

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