Synergy Paper Misconduct

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Science  26 Oct 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5543, pp. 763
DOI: 10.1126/science.294.5543.763b

The U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) last week announced scientific misconduct findings against a former Tulane University scientist who co-authored an influential—but later withdrawn—Science paper on gender-bending chemicals. According to experiments done by Steven Arnold in John McLachlan's lab, certain pollutants became up to 1000 times more reactive when mixed together in a cell assay for estrogenic activity (Science, 7 June 1996, p. 1489). The findings fanned public concern about endocrine disrupters as Congress was passing new legislation to require testing for them. McLachlan later withdrew the paper after other researchers failed to replicate the results.

A Tulane investigation cleared McLachlan of misdeeds but found that Arnold “provided insufficient data to support” the paper (Science, 18 June 1999, p. 1932). Now PHS, whose Office of Research Integrity reviewed the matter because Arnold had National Institutes of Health funding, has found “no original data or other corroborating evidence” for the paper and that Arnold “provided falsified and fabricated materials” to Tulane investigators. Arnold has admitted his wrongdoing and is barred from receiving PHS grants for 5 years.

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