Science  07 Jul 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5783, pp. 29

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  1. Panel: Extensive Sudbø Fraud

    Most of the published papers by oral cancer expert Jon Sudbø of the University of Oslo's Norwegian Radium Hospital are bogus, according to an investigative panel. “The bulk of Jon Sudbø's scientific publications are invalid due to fabrication and manipulation of raw data,” says the 30 June report by an independent group headed by epidemiologist Anders Ekbom of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

    This winter, Sudbø confessed that he had invented data in a 2005 Lancet paper on detecting oral cancer, leading to a retraction of that paper and casting suspicion on other high-profile papers (Science, 27 January, p. 448). The Ekbom panel found, for example, that nine of 150 patients in one study were fictitious and that another 69 “should have been excluded” because they had already been diagnosed with cancer. The report says Sudbø's doctoral dissertation and papers based on its data should be retracted.

    Stein Evensen, dean of the University of Oslo medical faculty, called the investigation “very accurate” and pointed to a silver lining: None of Sudbø's 60 co-authors is implicated in his misdeeds. But the Ekbom panel found an apparent “systemic failure” by the Oslo hospital to stem the fraud. Evensen will propose that the university withdraw Sudbø's doctorate and adopt better oversight procedures. Neither Sudbø nor his attorney could be reached for comment.

  2. To the Moon, Barney

    NASA should stick to its exploration plans, House lawmakers declared last week. When the agency's $16.7 billion budget for 2007 went to the House floor, Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) urged colleagues to block $700 million from use for human Mars exploration, calling the spending “an extravagance” and “a psychological stunt” with no scientific value. But Frank's proposal lost, 259–163. The Senate is preparing its own version of NASA's budget, which likely will increase funding for science, aeronautics programs, and pork-barrel projects. NASA backers are hoping that a safe space-shuttle mission this week will prove that the agency still has the right stuff for human exploration.

    Meanwhile, after a scare last week, the Hubble Space Telescope's main camera survived the failure of a power source aboard the orbiting spacecraft. Engineers used an alternative power supply to bring the Advanced Camera for Surveys back into research operation.

  3. Enviro Journal Staying Put

    National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Director David Schwartz has decided not to privatize the field's most important journal. Schwartz said last fall that it's unusual for a federal agency to publish a major journal and that privatizing Environmental Health Perspectives would give it greater independence (Science, 2 December 2005, p. 1407). But hundreds wrote in favor of keeping the journal at NIEHS. They warned that a private publisher might influence its content.

    “We were persuaded,” says Schwartz. But changes he's planned include appointing an outside scientist as editor-in-chief and halving the news section. The decision overall is “good news,” says environmental health researcher David Ozonoff of Boston University.

  4. Warning on Wave Warnings

    NEW DELHI—Last week, UNESCO declared a long-awaited Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System to be “up and running,” pointing at 25 new seismic stations, three deep-ocean buoys, and 24 national information centers for distributing advisories. But experts say that data-integration problems persist and large gaps in coverage are yet to be filled, especially the South China Sea and the Makran subduction zone south of Pakistan, with India's independent system incomplete for at least 15 months. Thailand plans to deploy its first deep-ocean buoy in December, and a German-Indonesian sensor system remains a work in progress. “We have a long way to go,” says Costas Synolakis, director of the Tsunami Research Center at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

  5. Cloning Proposed for Japan

    TOKYO—A panel has recommended that Japan lift its ban on therapeutic cloning by allowing researchers to use surplus eggs from fertility treatments to obtain embryonic stem cells. Scientists welcomed the proposed change, contained in an interim report last month to the Ministry of Education. “The importance of this technology for the study of human embryology, human oncology, and drug discovery will increase,” says Shin-Ichi Nishikawa, a stem cell researcher at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe.

    The new rules, now open for public comment, will be vetted by the prime minister's Council for Science and Technology Policy.