After Harvard’s Hausergate, now misconduct at Mount Sinai

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Earlier this week, the blog Retraction Watch called attention to four recent paper retractions by noted gene therapy researcher Savio Woo of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Today, the school said in a statement that two of Woo’s postdoctoral fellows have been fired for research misconduct and that an internal investigation has cleared Woo of any wrongdoing.

Two of Woo’s post-doctoral fellows at Mount Sinai School of Medicine were dismissed for “research misconduct,” said Ian Michaels, a spokesman for the institution. According to Michaels:

When Dr. Savio L C Woo came to suspect that two post-doctoral fellows in his laboratory may have engaged in research misconduct he notified the Mount Sinai Research Integrity Office. Mount Sinai immediately initiated institutional reviews that resulted in both post-doctoral fellows being dismissed for research misconduct. At no time were there allegations that Dr. Woo had engaged in research misconduct. As part of its review, the investigation committee looked into this possibility and confirmed that no research misconduct could be attributed to Dr. Woo, who voluntarily retracted the papers regarding the research in question. Mount Sinai reported the results of its investigations to the appropriate government agencies and continues to cooperate with them as part of its commitment to adhere to the highest standards for research integrity.


Wikipedia: A twelfth-century Byzantine manuscript of the Hippocratic Oath.

According to ScienceInsider, the names of postdocs Li Chen and Zhiyu Li were recently removed from Mount Sinai’s directory. Chen and Li were listed as first authors on the retracted papers. Three  major journals — Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesHuman Gene Therapy, and the Journal of the National Cancer Institute — recently retracted papers authored by Woo and others.

In a retraction notice issued this month, Woo wrote that:

It was discovered that some of the micrographs in two papers we published [figure 4 in J Natl Cancer Inst 2008;100:1389-1400 (1), and figure 3 in Hum Gene Ther 2009;20:751-758 (2)] are apparently duplicated. This has been reported to the institutional research integrity committee by the authors and while the outcome of an investigation is pending, the undersigned co-authors respectfully request a retraction of both papers and sincerely apologize to our colleagues.

The four papers in question focus on two different areas of gene therapy research. One pair, published in 2008 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and in 2009 in Human Gene Therapy, investigate genetically engineered bacteria as a weapon against cancer. The other two papers describe a method for using bacterial enzymes to introduce therapeutic genes. A 2005 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports experiments in which mice with the metabolic disorder phenylketonuria appeared to be cured using this method. As a demonstration of the promise of gene therapy, that work garnered some media coverage, includingthis article in Science. A 2008 paper in Human Gene Therapy described the use of the technique in human cells.


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2 Responses to “After Harvard’s Hausergate, now misconduct at Mount Sinai”

  1. Nobel prize winner retracts more papers « The k2p blog Says:

    […] winner retracts more papers By ktwop Following quickly on the heels of Hausergate and the Mount Sinai misconduct, we now have a Nobel laureate  – Linda Buck – retracting two papers because results from her […]

  2. Update: Two more papers retracted by Mount Sinai « The k2p blog Says:

    […] Watch reports that Gene therapy researcher Savio Woo has retracted two more papers in addition to the 4 retracted earlier. Mount Sinai School of Medicine researcher Savio Woo, whom Retraction Watch reported last week has […]

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