US stem cell scientist punished for fraud

Michael Cook
7 Sep 2012
Reproduced with Permission

Stem cell research fraud continues, though not as spectacularly as in the lab of disgraced South Korean Hwang Woo-suk. A Harvard University researcher, Shane Mayack, was recently disciplined by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) of the Department of Health and Human Services for using images from other publications as her own. Dr Mayack has acknowledged her responsibility for misconduct, which led to retractions of two papers in the prestigious journals Nature and Blood.

Last year Dr Mayack discussed the scandal in an essay posted on the blog Retraction Watch. She admitted that she had made "egregious" mistakes, but she blamed a "dysfunctional" system as well:

"... the mistakes made were serious, even egregious. I take responsibility for these mistakes, and I understand that there are and should be some degree of consequence. I am a professional, well-trained individual and more should be expected of me.

"That being said, more should be expected of all of us - the system as a whole - shouldn't it? Errors in scientific data that make their way into publications do so as a dysfunction of not only one person but as a result of a dysfunctional system."

She even warned her readers that worse things might be happening:

"How and/or why do errors remain unchecked and end up bearing their ugly heads in scientific publications, slipping past the fastidiousness of superiors and other multiple check points? This happens more often than it should, probably more often then we know or care to admit, and depending on how you dice the numbers, may potentially be on the rise?"

Science Insider, Aug 30