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Repairing BRCA1 science

DNA-repair researchers trying to separate sound science from allegedly false data in retracted papers

Peg Brickley(pegbrickley@hotmail.com)

As a leading authority on DNA repair contests findings that he falsified data about a key breast cancer gene, other researchers in the field are preparing a salvage operation to make sure good science is not lost in the melee.

Steven A. (Tony) Leadon resigned as director of radiobiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) in March, after a five-member panel at the school alleged that he had tampered with data related to the antibody assay he developed to test how BRCA1 encodes a protein to repair DNA damage. His case is now under review by the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity (ORI).

"We have an interest in cleaning up the literature," said Christopher Pascal, director of ORI, of the review process. "There's a presumption of innocence until proven guilty here. ORI can't jump the gun."

"For the scientific community,...

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