Scientist Fabricates Cancer Data

A postdoc at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital is found guilty of falsifying his findings in a lung cancer study.

Jun 1, 2012
Megan Scudellari

FLICKR, MICHAEL PERECKAS

A former research fellow at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School committed research misconduct, according to the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), which announced its findings in yesterday’s Federal Register.

Based on evidence collected from a joint investigation by Brigham and Harvard, the ORI concluded that Jian Ma “knowingly and intentionally fabricated and falsified data.” Ma falsified immunoblots in an unpublished manuscript investigating a gene’s involvement in lung cancer sensitivity to a drug called rapamycin. The paper containing the falsified data was submitted to the Journal of Clinical Investigation in August 2008, but it was subsequently withdrawn by one of the authors in January 2009 prior to publication. The research was funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health.

The experiments were subsequently redone, reanalyzed, and published in March 2010 in Oncogene, with Ma still listed as an author.

Ma, who is no longer affiliated with either institution, according to the Boston Globe, is now subject to a 3-year probationary period, in which he can participate in government-funded research only under strict supervision, according to the Register, and he may not serve on any government peer review or advisory committees.