Three Retractions for Highly Cited Author

Robert Weinberg’s team at MIT is pulling three papers, noting some figure panels were composites of different experiments.

Mar 19, 2015
Kerry Grens

WIKIMEDIA, MADCOVERBOYMIT cancer biologist Robert Weinberg and his colleagues have retracted two Genes & Development papers on the role of a microRNA in breast cancer metastases. The notices reference the retraction of a third, highly cited paper published in Cell. The Scientist has not yet heard from Weinberg nor the journal regarding this apparent withdrawal.

According to two identical notices in the March issue of Genes & Development, the alleged retraction in Cell came about “because original data were compiled from different replicate experiments in order to assemble certain figure panels. As the same analytical methodology was used in this [Genes & Development] manuscript, we believe that the responsible course of action is to retract the article.”

The retracted 2011 Genes & Development paper has been cited 78 times, while the 2009 paper in the same journal has been cited 96 times.

The 2009 Cell study has been cited 676 times. Cell’s press officer is looking into whether a retraction is in progress, and The Scientist will update this post once more information is available. Weinberg did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

In 2013, Weinberg and his colleagues retracted a highly cited Cancer Cell paper because of poor figure assembly.

Update (March 19): Cell Press has confirmed the 2009 Cell paper “is being retracted and the official notice is forthcoming.” The headline and subheading on this article, which originally noted only the two published Genes & Development retractions, have been updated accordingly.

Update (March 23): Weinberg told The Scientist in an e-mail: the outcomes of ongoing investigations is sometihng that I am not qualified to discuss, given the fact that I am not participating in such investigation.

Update (April 3): Cell today posted a retraction notice for the June 2009 paper described above, A pleiotropically acting microRNA, miR-31, inhibits breast cancer metastasis.”