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Canned for whistleblowing?

Postdoc forced to leave position after questioning the reproducibility of advisor's data.

Megan Scudellari

ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

A University of Wisconsin–Madison postdoc was forced to resign after alleging that his advisor engaged in scientific misconduct, according to Nature. In 2009, zoology postdoc Aaron Taylor voiced doubts about zebrafish images published in Development by his faculty advisor, developmental biologist Yevgenya Grinblat. Taylor was a co-author on the 2009 paper. Later, he accused Grinblat of pressuring him to publish data that he considered unreliable and subsequently aired his concerns with the National Institutes of Health's Office of Research Integrity.

In November 2009, the school's zoology department chairman, Jeffrey Hardin, told Taylor he could resign, be fired, or drop the misconduct "issues," according to a conversation Taylor recorded and shared with Nature. Taylor resigned and has begun work at a new institution. Reprisal against whistle-blowers is banned by the US federal policy on research misconduct. Hardin maintains that Taylor was not retaliated against for blowing the...

Correction (June 15): The NatureNews article that broke this story incorrectly stated that the misconduct allegations against Grinblat were never investigated by the university. In fact, according to UW-Madison spokesperson Jill Sakai, department and college level investigations were conducted into the allegations, but “yielded no evidence of misconduct or other problems to support Taylor’s allegations.” The original version of this story perpetuated the inconsistency. The mistake has been corrected, and The Scientist regrets the error.

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