More Ivy League Fakery: Top Harvard Cancer Researchers Accused of Scientific Fraud Affecting 37 Studies

Camera shy doctor

Top cancer researchers at Harvard have been accused of scientific fraud affecting 37 studies. The researchers are also accused of manipulating data images with simple methods such as copy-and-paste and Adobe Photoshop.

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, is retracting six scientific studies and seeking to correct 31 others that were published by its top researchers, including the hospital’s CEO, according to a report by Ars Technica.

Claudine Gay holding a giant book

Disgraced former Harvard president Claudine Gay holding a giant book (Boston Globe/Getty)

Data sleuth Sholto David and his colleagues on PubPeer, an online forum for researchers to discuss publications, reportedly brought forward the allegations on January 2, when David posted a lengthy list of possible data manipulation from DFCI researchers to his research integrity blog, For Better Science.

In his blog post, David pointed out several data figures that appeared to feature pixel-for-pixel duplications. Researchers are accused of manipulating images of data that include what are known as “Western blots” — used to see proteins in a complex mixture.

The allegations are against DFCI President and CEO Laurie Glimcher, Executive Vice President and COO William Hahn, Senior Vice President for Experimental Medicine Irene Ghobrial, and Harvard Medical School professor Kenneth Anderson.

Moreover, all four of the implicated researchers have faculty appointments at Harvard Medical School.

DFCI Research Integrity Officer Barrett Rollins responded to the allegations, telling the Harvard Crimson that the school is “committed to a culture of accountability and integrity,” and that “every inquiry about research integrity is examined fully.”

Rollins also noted that David had contacted DFCI with allegations of data manipulation involving 57 studies, adding that the institute’s internal review found that there are 38 papers in which DFCI researchers “have primary responsibility for the potential data errors.”

Now, the institute is retracting six studies and contacting scientific publishers to correct 31 others, bringing the total to 37 affected studies so far. Meanwhile, the 38th remaining study in question is still under review.

Of the remaining 19 studies in question, three were cleared of allegations, and 16 were determined to have had the possibly manipulated data collected in labs that were outside the DFCI. Rollins told the Harvard Crimson that those studies are still under investigation.

Rollins also insisted that finding false data and manipulated images is not necessarily “evidence of an author’s intent to deceive,” and that the institute has yet to determine if any scientific misconduct occurred.

“That conclusion can only be drawn after a careful, fact-based examination which is an integral part of our response,” Rollins said. “Our experience is that errors are often unintentional and do not rise to the level of misconduct.”

Notably, the data discrepancies were detected amid a pushback against academic fraud that now appears to be ramping up while the klieg lights shine on Harvard in the wake of its recently ousted president president, Claudine Gay, being found to be a serial plagiarist.

Meanwhile, the new co-chair of the Ivy League school’s antisemitism task force is being called out for saying that Israel a “regime of apartheid” in letter less than a year ago.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and X/Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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