MU Research Gone Wrong

1 decade 9 months 4 weeks ago Friday, July 27 2007 Jul 27, 2007 Friday, July 27, 2007 6:04:52 PM CDT July 27, 2007 in News
In the issue of Science Magazine released today, a group of MU researchers retracted a study published in February of last year. The stem cell-related research involved studying mouse embryos and cells.

Three of the MU researchers who wrote the paper retracted it, due to falsified data. Images of cells included in the original article were allegedly digitally manipulated to show positive research results. Kaushik Deb, a post-doctoral researcher is being held responsible. The university says Deb fled the school as soon as the fraud surfaced.

"The implications of this retraction based on a finding of misconduct, by this one individual, I would think would be fatal to his scientific career," said Rob Hall, MU Research Ingegrity Officer.

Science Magazine publishes about 950 papers each year, and editors say between 3 and 4 retractions are printed each year. On average, only one of those retractions is due to fraud.

Dr. R. Michael Roberts supervised the research, and he is taking some of the responsibility. In a telephone interview, he said he couldn't possibly monitor every researcher, and he places great trust in his colleagues. He is still working at MU, and the university is not penalizing him for the federally funded study.

The government wants to protect its research dollars by making sure universities follow the rules.

"Because we hold strictly to that policy, we remain eligible for federal funding in the way that other institutions that have been confronted with this issue also remain eligible," said Hall.

University officials do not think the retraction has ruined MU's research reputation.

"I think that the University of Missouri has done its due diligence in dealing with this and I don't think there will be any long-term repercussions," said Hall.

The Director of Research Integrity at the University of Kansas says research fraud can be a black eye on any institution but it is only hurtful if there is a pattern.

At MU, Dr. Roberts still has federal funding to continue his project. MU officials do not know the whereabouts of Kaushik Deb's original photo files, and still have not spoken with him.

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