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  • Voltaire Staff

37 studies by Harvard cancer researchers under scanner over 'plagiarism' charge

Several researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, connected to Harvard Medical School, including its CEO, are under scanner for lifting data images from another source for their studies.

The accusations made by data investigator Sholto David in his blog 'For Better Science' have resulted into a request for retraction of at least six studies and correction to 31 others by the publishers.

The researchers have been accused of copying and pasting data for their studies after simple editing in software like Adobe Photoshop.

David in his blog posted a list of potential data manipulation from Dana-Farber researchers, pointing out duplicated images in the data figures, especially in Western blots used to detect proteins.

Dana-Farber's Research Integrity Officer, Barrett Rollins, said that David contacted them with claims of data manipulation in 57 studies and the institute was taking the claims seriously and is looking into all of them.

According to Wall Street Journal, Rollins, a co-author in two of the studies under scanner, has recused himself from being a part of the internal investigation.

The accused individuals include the DFCI CEO Laurie Glimcher, COO William Hahn, Senior Vice President Irene Ghobrial, and Harvard Medical School professor Kenneth Anderson.

During an internal review, Dana-Farber found 38 studies with potential manipulation. They are retracting six studies and have requested publishers to correct 31 others, totalling 37 studies. The remaining 38th study is still under review.

Rollins mentioned that 19 studies identified by David are also being investigated. Some were cleared of manipulation, while others had data collected outside Dana-Farber's labs.

Rollins in his statement insisted the revelations don't automatically mean there was scientific misconduct.

All the same, the methods used for manipulation in the studies in question are becoming more and more common, and journals are increasingly using AI tools to detect such issues.

In December 2023, Former Harvard President Claudine Gay came under scrutiny over similar charges – and was eventually removed from the top position -- as a data expert exposed flaws in her research, raising questions about her academic credentials.

The controversy included concerns about the validity of her research that played a role in her receiving tenure at Stanford University.

Data analyst Jonatan Pallesen challenged her statistical methods, revealing that she declined to share her data with other researchers, a breach of academic norms.

Pallesen found flaws in a 2001 paper crucial to her tenure, and two professors previously criticised the statistical technique she used.


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