Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Impact of Faked Scientific Data

An article from about a year ago in the news section of Science asks if it is worth the effort to go through old journal articles looking for cases of fraud, and replies with a telling anecdote
For people like Steven Shirey, that value is incalculable. Last July, the Washington, D.C., geologist had a 2-cm by 2-cm square of skin excised from his tongue. The experience was traumatic enough, but Shirey felt he had no choice: Genetic testing had revealed that a lesion found there was aneuploid, meaning it had an abnormal number of chromosomes. A Norwegian oncologist, Jon Sudbø of the University of Oslo, had found that 84% of people with aneuploid lesions go on to develop a deadly form of oral cancer. The work appeared in 2001 and 2004 in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

"Based on Sudbø's article, I thought I had a death sentence," Shirey says, adding that he would have signed up for a preventive chemotherapy trial had one been available.

In January, after a whistleblower raised questions about data in a recently published Lancet paper, Sudbø admitted through his attorney to faking signature findings on aneuploid lesions in the 2004 NEJM paper. The 2001 paper is under suspicion after journal editors found that it contains a pair of duplicate images. Anders Ekbom, a surgeon at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, is leading an investigation into all of Sudbø's 38 research papers. He hopes to complete it later this spring.


Anonymous said...
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Rigged data and patch of missing tongue! Good grief. How tasteless!