Adam Marcus, the managing editor of Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News, and Ivan Oransky, distinguished writer in residence at New York University’s Arthur Carter Journalism Institute and vice president for editorial at Medscape, are co-founders of Retraction Watch.
The fall from grace wasn’t exactly swift, but it was stunning. Among stem cell researchers, Piero Anversa’s work trying to regrow the human heart in the 1990s and 2000s was legendary. That was then. In October, his former institutions, Harvard Medical School and its affiliate Brigham and Women’s Hospital, asked journals to retract 31 of his lab’s papers. That followed an agreement last year by the Brigham and other hospitals to pay the government $10 million to settle claims that Anversa and a colleague used bogus data to obtain their grant funding.
As dramatic as the Anversa case is, he is far from alone. This month, Anversa’s lab saw 13 papers retracted, but even if all journals honor the retraction requests, he won’t crack the top 10 for scientists who’ve had their articles pulled from the literature. Neither does Cornell University’s Brian Wansink, the food marketing researcher — and former media fixture — who experienced a similar fall over the past few years. The dubious honor for most retractions goes to Yoshitaka Fujii, a Japanese anesthesiologist who fabricated his findings in at least 183 papers, according to a 2012 investigation launched by journal editors and Japanese universities.