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First Reports of U of M Stem Cell Resolution

From the Scientist:

Guilty: stem cell researcher

Posted by Andrea Gawrylewski
[Entry posted at 7th October 2008 05:17 PM GMT]

A former member of a high profile stem cell biology research team at the University of Minnesota has been found guilty of falsifying data, a university investigatory panel has ruled.

Morayma Reyes, a former PhD student in the lab of prominent stem cell biologist Catherine Verfaillie, was under investigation by the university for fabricating data in a 2002 Nature paper which identified a certain type of bone marrow stem cell capable of giving rise to every type of cell in the body. It was the first time that adult stem cells had been shown to be pluripotent -- only embryonic stem cells had displayed that capability before.

After the results were published, other researchers had trouble replicating the findings. Early in 2007, a New Scientist reporter noticed that some data resembled data in a patent claim, data in another paper in the journal Experimental Hematology from 2001, and data in an article in the journal Blood. The magazine raised the issue with Nature and the university. An investigation last year conducted by the university found that the duplication in Experimental Hematology was not a result of misconduct.

In June of last year, Nature retracted the figures in question from the paper, stating that they did not affect the overall findings of the paper.

The current report issued by the University of Minnesota panel states that Reyes is guilty of falsifying the data in Blood, and calls for the article's retraction. It also found the same data in a fourth article in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, although did not rule that a case of misconduct.

The panel cleared Verfaillie and the other authors on the papers of fraud. "I have initiated a number of additional oversight measures designed to further enhance the integrity of research and scientific publications coming from my lab," Verfaillie, now at Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium told New Scientist. "I am confident that these measures will avoid the recurrence of a similar problem in the future."

No action has been set against Reyes, who is now an assistant professor at the University of Washington, Seattle.

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