Stem cell researchers at the University of Minnesota are once again under investigation for falsifying data. Earlier this year, New Scientist identified at least two potentially manipulated or duplicated images in a American Journal of Physiology paper coauthored by Jizhen Lin a researcher in the Department of Otolaryngology in the university's medical school. The paper reported that stem cells from the inner ears of mice could be differentiated to create neurons and sensory hair cells.
Based on their own investigation, New Scientist identified one photograph of a gel that appeared to have duplicated bands spliced into the image, and two other images that seemed identical, though they were meant to represent results for two different genes. Further exploration uncovered possibly duplicated images in six additional papers published by Lin between 2001 and 2007.
In April, New Scientist alerted the university to their findings, and an investigation was launched last month. Last October, a panel at the University of Minnesota ruled that Morayma Reyes a former PhD student in the lab of stem cell researcher Catherine Verfaillie had falsified data in a 2001 Blood paper Blood retracted the paper in March of this year, citing "duplications and other irregularities in multiple figures."
In early 2007, New Scientist questioned the validity and originality of the data in a 2002 Nature paper from Verfaillie's lab reporting the first adult pluripotent stem cells, and that June, Nature retracted the figures in question. Verfaillie was the corresponding author on both those papers. She was also an author on the 2008 American Journal of Physiology paper with Lin.
Correction (August 7): The original version of this article indicated that Reyes was the subject of the investigation regarding the 2002 Nature paper. While she was a co-author on the paper, she was not the specific focus of the inquiry. The Scientist regrets the error.
[26th February 2007]