The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission has found that cell biologist Anne Peyroche, deputy director of the organization’s Molecular Genetics Laboratory who also served interim president of National Center for Scientific Research, was complicit in the publication of falsified data, according to a report revealed by French news magazine L’Express last week (October 8). The report, completed in May by the French Academy of Sciences, was subsequently buried by both the CEA and CNRS, according to the news story.
Suspicions about Peyroche’s work were first raised last year on the postpublication peer review website PubPeer, where anonymous users pointed to signs of retouched images in five articles she published between 2001 and 2012. Following the allegations, CNRS selected computer scientist Antoine Petit to take Peyroche’s place as its president, though it was unclear at the time whether the move was directly related to the concerns about Peyroche’s work.
According to L’Express, the CEA asked the French Academy of Sciences to investigate. In May, a committee completed a 31-page report that found Peyroche’s articles to contain 22 incidences of misconduct, including six cases of “falsifications”—the most egregious form of data manipulation. “[T]here seems little doubt that misconduct that was difficult to accept had been committed in the drafting of the five articles in question,” and Peyroche was at least partially responsible, the committee concluded in its report (translated from French by Google).
Administrators at the CEA and CNRS suppressed the committee’s findings, according to L’Express. Furthermore, the magazine reports, former CEA deputy head Daniel Verwaerde was ready to fire Peyroche before he handed over the CEA reins to François Jacq, who did nothing. Minister of Research Frédérique Vidal defended Peyroche and even asked Verwaerde to suspend any planned sanctions against her.
Hat tip: Claire Francis