Red wine-heart research slammed with fraud charges

barbara

Pioneer Founding member
Personally I believe this is just the tip of the iceberg. Universities had better start paying more attention to what their researchers/professors are doing. Any one up for reading the 60,000 page report?


By Ivan Oransky, MD
NEW YORK | Thu Jan 12, 2012
(Reuters Health) - A University of Connecticut researcher who studied the link between aging and a substance found in red wine has committed more than 100 acts of data fabrication and falsification, the university said Wednesday, throwing much of his work into doubt.

Dipak K. Das, who directed the university's Cardiovascular Research Center, studied resveratrol, touted by a number of scientists and companies as a way to slow aging or remain healthy as people get older. Among his findings, according to a work promoted by the University of Connecticut in 2007, was that "the pulp of grapes is as heart-healthy as the skin, even though the antioxidant properties differ."

"We have a responsibility to correct the scientific record and inform peer researchers across the country," Philip Austin, the university's interim vice president for health affairs, said in a statement.

The university said an anonymous tip led to an investigation that began in 2008. A 60,000-page report -- the summary of which is available at bit.ly/xkyS4A -- resulted, outlining 145 counts of fabrication and falsification of data. Other members of Das' laboratory may have been involved, and are being investigated, the report continues.

UConn has "declined to accept $890,000 in federal grants awarded to" Das, according to the statement, and has begun dismissal proceedings. The university has alerted 11 journals that published Das' work, and has also worked on the case with the U.S. Office of Research Integrity, which investigates alleged misconduct by federal grant recipients.

The journals include Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, where Das was one of the editors in chief, and the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

Although many scientists have been skeptical of various claims made about resveratrol, it has garnered significant commercial interest. GlaxoSmithKline bought Sirtris, a company that worked on the compound in 2008 for $720 million, but later discontinued work on one version of a drug that mimics its activity because of disappointing results.

A Las Vegas resveratrol maker called Longevinex has promoted Das' research, and he appears in a lengthy video touting the nutrient as the next aspirin.

Das also shared a 2002 patent on the use of another compound in grape skins called proanthocyanidin to prevent and treat heart conditions.

Other scientists have taken notice of Das' work, citing 30 of his papers more than 100 times each, according to Thomson Scientific's Web of Knowledge. Last year, he won an award from the International Association of Cardiologists.

Still, one aging researcher said the impact of the fraud on the field will be minimal.

"There are many investigators who are working on resveratrol," said Dr. Nir Barzilai, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "That doesn't mean we know the whole truth. But Rome wasn't built on Dr. Das."

Das, who could not be reached for comment, said in a 2010 letter to university officials that the investigation was a "conspiracy" against him. The work was "repeated by many scientists all over the world," he wrote.

"As you know, because of the development of tremendous amount of stress in my work environment in recent months, I became a victim of stroke for which I am undergoing treatment," he wrote in a separate letter.

(With reporting by Adam Marcus)
 

barbara

Pioneer Founding member
Blood retracts stem cell paper from Amy Wagers’ Harvard lab

Already another one in the news. Here's a great site:
http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com/category/by-country/united-states-retractions/


Retraction Watch

Blood retracts stem cell paper from Amy Wagers’ Harvard lab after 14 months of concern

http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com/2011/12/27/blood-retracts-stem-cell-paper-from-amy-wagers-harvard-lab-after-14-months-of-concern/

More than 14 months after Blood issued a notice of concern about a paper by a Harvard stem cell scientist and her former post-doc, the journal has retracted the article.

Here’s the notice for the paper, “Osteolineage niche cells initiate hematopoietic stem cell mobilization,” by Shane Mayack and Amy Wagers:

The corresponding author (Amy J. Wagers) and the journal wish to retract the 1 August 2008 paper cited above. Based on information discovered by the corresponding author after publication and reported by her to the journal in August 2010, which is now confirmed by a subsequent institutional investigation, this paper was found to contain duplicated data and other inappropriate manipulations. The corresponding author requests retraction of the paper in its entirety and apologizes to the reviewers, editors, and readers of Blood for any adverse consequences that may have resulted from the paper’s publication. This retraction has not been signed by the first author (Shane R. Mayack), who maintains that the results are valid.

The article has been cited 38 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. Interesting to note that when we first reported on the expression of concern back in October 2010, the number of citations was 24. In other words, the number of citations has risen by nearly 50 percent since then.

That Mayack refused to sign on to the retraction notice follows form; she did not agree to the Nature retraction. According to Mayack, the issues involving her work in the lab involved what boil down to organizational problems or, perhaps more accurately, disorganizational problems. She called them “mistakes made in data retrieval that were a cause of a poor, but not a unique, data management and archiving system” — but not fraud.

As the latest retraction notes, Harvard has been conducting an internal investigation of the matter — for years, it seems. We attempted to pry a few facts from the university back in October, on the anniversary of the Nature retraction, but our entreaty went unanswered.

We have attempted to reach Mayack and Blood and will update this post if we learn anything more.
 

barbara

Pioneer Founding member
Resveratrol Scientists React to Fraud Scandal

From Heartwire
Shelley Wood


January 13, 2012 (New York, New York) — As the controversy over the research fraud allegations against Dr Dipak Das enter its third day, researchers, clinicians, and red-wine enthusiasts more generally are wondering just what the news means for the field of resveratrol research. At the very least, scientists told heartwire , plans for an international meeting scheduled for later this year have been turned upside down: Das was one of just eight international experts on the scientific committee for Resveratrol 2012.

As previously reported by heartwire , the University of Connecticut found evidence that Das had fabricated and falsified data in dozens of published papers, many asserting that resveratrol, found in red wine, improved cardiovascular health. The university is in the process of dismissing Das and has already returned $890 000 of the federal research funding awarded to Das.

The case is attracting more than the usual flurry of interest for a research fraud case, in part because red wine has long enjoyed a reputation as a heart-smart accompaniment to a healthy diet: resveratrol has emerged as a key candidate in molecular studies looking at just how wine benefits the cardiovascular system. Interest in the compound culminated in the first international resveratrol meeting, held in Denmark in 2010, and led to a position paper published in PLoS One on which Das was an author [1].

Resveratrol 2012 is to be held in Lucknow, India, December 10-12, 2012.

Chair of the scientific committee, Dr Ole Vang, told heartwire by email that he was too ill to speak by phone Friday. Instead, he referred calls to Dr Joseph Wu (New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY), who told heartwire he's been invited to the meeting, but "now I don't really know if it's going to be held or not! I hope so, because I think the field of resveratrol could benefit from a group of scientists [getting together] who have a common interest on trying to understand how this molecule works. But given the current interest and climate surrounding Dr Das, I don't know."

Another member of the scientific committee, however, Dr John M Pezzuto (University of Hawaii, Hilo), told heartwire the meeting "absolutely" will go ahead as planned.

"First of all, if you look at the 4000 [published] papers, resveratrol has potential in many different therapeutic areas. . . . There's a big laundry list of therapeutic areas and many workers in addition to Das, in cardiac work as well. So I don't think [the controversy] is going to affect that adversely at all--it might actually gain it more attention."

Pezzuto also confirmed that Vang has written to the other members of the scientific committee "and said, basically, chill out," while the investigation into Das plays out.

The case "looks pretty bleak," Pezzuto said, "but we don't fully know. . . . If he is proven guilty I would assume he would resign and if he doesn't I expect Ole will consult with us and we'll take action."

This "Won't Impact Body of Science"

Another member of the scientific committee, Dr Nihal Ahmad (University of Wisconsin), told heartwire that he believed he and other committee members would be "review[ing] the situation."

"I am myself following the story very closely," Ahmad said. "However, I do not believe that this is going to have much effect on the body of science, especially because the effect of resveratrol has been verified by a number of researchers and there is a comprehensive amount of data in a variety of experimental models suggesting that resveratrol may be useful against certain diseases. Thus, even if some of Dr Das's work is false and retracted, it will not likely impact the body of science on this very promising agent."

Those views, not surprisingly, were echoed by Pezzuto and Wu, the latter noting that Das's work was concentrated in a specific ischemia-reperfusion model, but that he was not the only researcher using this model.

Pezzuto also pointed to the position paper derived from the 2010 meeting on which he, as well as Das, Vang, Wu, and Ahmad are all coauthors, noting that it clearly concludes that the existing evidence is not strong enough to recommend administration of resveratrol to humans. "I can say that during the course of that meeting there were no signs of any impropriety from Das or anyone else in terms of lack of integrity or pushing an agenda or trying to bias the report in any way," Pezzuto told heartwire . "There is a broad body of scientific investigation that supports certain perceived benefits for heart health, beyond Dr Das, and ultimately you can see in our report, and we state it pretty unequivocally, to say that the compound has clinical activity you need to perform clinical trials."

He continued: "My personal opinion is, if Dr Das or his people doctored some Western blots, it's not going to affect the pathway forward [for resveratrol] because ultimately the same body of evidence exists beyond what he's published indicating that there's some potential, and ultimately trials need to be conducted to prove that it's efficacious or not."

heartwire contacted the American Heart Association for its views on the Das debacle. Dr Gordon Tomaselli (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD), speaking in generalities rather than commenting on the specifics of the Das case, made the point that research misconduct happens. It remains key, he said, that scientific process and clinical recommendations never rely too heavily on work conducted by a single group or a single laboratory. Nor, he added, should a single instance of malfeasance unduly influence an entire field.

"On balance here, the evidence is in favor of improvement in cardiovascular risk with [moderate red-wine consumption], because of the components that are part of alcohol and red wine in particular," Tomaselli told heartwire . "The message here is that a single incident like this doesn't undermine the overall hypothesis about wine/alcohol and CV risk."
 

barbara

Pioneer Founding member
And another one bites the dust

Journal of Neurochemistry retracts paper after SUNY Upstate medical school finds evidence of fraud


Following an investigation by the State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate into the work of one of its neuroscientists, the Journal of Neurochemistry has retracted a 2007 paper.

The retraction notice is quite clear about why the paper is being withdrawn:

The following article from Journal of Neurochemistry, “Functional nerve growth factor and trkA autocrine/paracrine circuits in adult rat cortex are revealed by episodic ethanol exposure and withdrawal” by Bruns M. and Miller MW., published online on 22 December 2006, Volume 100, Issue 5, 2007, pages 1155–1168 (now available through http://www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com) has been retracted by the Chief Editors. This action follows the advice from the President of SUNY Upstate after an investigation into allegations of research misconduct by Dr. Michael Miller. The preponderance of evidence reviewed in that investigation suggested that Figures 2 to 6 in this publication have been falsified. Dr. Bruns was not the subject of any investigation.

The paper has been cited five times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Michael W. Miller, whose hiring was the subject of a 2000 Upstate press release, is no longer employed at Upstate, and we do not know his whereabouts. We understand that the case has been referred to the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), which investigates allegations of fraud by federally funded scientists. According to the 2000 release:

Miller brings to SUNY Upstate more than $3 million in research grants, much of it dedicated to the study of the effect of alcohol on brain cells, fetal alcohol syndrome and alcohol neurotoxicity. His grant support comes from the National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse and the Department of Veterans Affairs. His research interests include, the cerebral cortex, developmental neurobiology, growth factors, neuronal death, neuronal plasticity and neurotoxicology.

Miller’s co-author, Marla Bruns, whom the notice makes clear was not the subject of the investigation, is now a neurology resident at Ohio State. We’ve tried to reach her as well as Upstate, and will update with anything we hear back.

In an unrelated case, the ORI recently found that a former SUNY Upstate grad student had manipulated Western blots.
 

barbara

Pioneer Founding member
More on Dipak Das - a 99%-er according to this article

Resveratrol researcher Dipak Das: My lab’s work was “99% correct”


Dipak Das, the UConn red wine researcher charged by his institution with rampant misconduct that will likely lead to dozens of retractions, is evidently a 99%-er — when it comes to accuracy, that is.

According to a statement purportedly from his lawyer refuting those charges, Das claims, among other things, that the output from his lab was nearly perfect. He also has a lot to say about a 60,000-page report that the statement says he may not have actually downloaded.

We might note a lot more things about the letter, which we received from Bill Sardi, president of Longevinex, a resveratrol company which has worked with Das. Sardi has been sending Das defenses since the story broke; we posted some of them and Derek Lowe has posted parts of another. But here’s the letter, in its entirety:

Note: this 9-point document was obtained from legal counsel for Dipak Das, PhD, a researcher at the University of Connecticut recently accused of scientific fraud.

Discovery of an online document involving allegations against a University of Connecticut Health Center researcher accused of scientific fraud reveals a long-standing internal battle between the accused researcher and an administrative physician at the institution that may have resulted in false allegations being generated. That document reveals the following:

1. Dr. Dipak Das, PhD, the accused, alleges all of the original documents involving 42 years of research which includes images of tests known as western blots, were confiscated by a representative of the university and were destroyed. These original raw western blot images, which would serve to completely exonerate Dr. Das, are no longer available for comparison with altered images that were later published in scientific journals. This same antagonist within the university proceeded to write hundreds of letters to scientific journals and funding sources, says Dr. Das, making false allegations that “I made up all the western blot tests.”

2. Dr. Das further alleges, once the original images were destroyed and could not be used for comparison in his defense, the university chose to employ software that can detect alterations to graphic images, software that has a high rate of false-positives and is not considered reliable unless original images are available for comparison purposes. Dr. Das says: “no one will use this software on the published paper unless originals are NOT available.”

3. Dr. Das counter attacks the University of Connecticut’s 60,000 page damning report which accuses him of altering images in order to fraudulently gain research grant money. Dr. Das claims he is an eminent scientist who was pre-funded by the National Institutes of Health and did not have to publish to gain grant money.

4. Dr. Das indicates, in this available online document, that he never personally performed any of these western blot tests that are now in question and that the person who performed most of these tests is retired and surprisingly not on the list of researchers accused of submitting fraudulent data to scientific journals.

5. Dr. Das then says he proceeded to examine the work of others in his laboratory and found their work to be “99% correct.” Dr. Das said he is considered an expert in reviewing research papers and had been requested to review western blot tests for various scientific journals.

6. Contrary to what the University of Connecticut report contends, Dr. Das denies he was the only person who had keys to his office and that many other students and post-doctorates had access to his computer to enter results of experiments they conducted.

7. Dr. Das categorically denies, as the university pejoratively alleges, that he “de-funded” a student because she did not produce the test results he demanded. Dr. Das claims he only took her off of his budget because she was working exclusively for another researcher.

8. The 60,000-page report describing the alleged scientific misconduct by Dr. Das, while only recently released to the public to put him on trial in the court of public opinion, was produced sometime in 2010, but it is unclear whether Dr. Das ever had an opportunity to even view it in its totality because he could not download it onto his computer because of its large size.

9. Dr. Das claims the allegations against him and his East-Indian colleagues began with a change in the administration at the university and for unknown reasons only focuses on East-Indian researchers when researchers of other ethnic origins performed most of the tests now in question.

Because of the seriousness of the charges and the fact they involve federally funded research studies, and the possibility that tissue samples as well as test data may have been intentionally destroyed by the university, it appears federal investigators need to intervene as quickly as possible.

In fact, the Office of Research Integrity, which investigates alleged misconduct by federal grant recipients, was the one that tipped off UConn to the case.

The letter appears to be from Scott Tips, a “health freedom” lawyer in California and president of the National Health Federation. The NHF calls itself

an international nonprofit, consumer-education, health-freedom organization working to protect individuals’ rights to choose to consume healthy food, take supplements, and use alternative therapies without government restrictions.

Das, meanwhile, has apparently been lecturing in Kolkata, India.

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