May 12, 2016

ORI Finds Two Committed Research Misconduct

A researcher has agreed to a five-year debarment for misconduct while another’s work, if involving Public Health Service (PHS) support, will be supervised for three years, according to the HHS Office of Research Integrity (ORI). The debarment was agreed to by John Pastorino, an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Biology at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. In a May 10 statement, ORI said he had “engaged in research misconduct by intentionally falsifying and/or fabricating data reported in” eight publications, an unpublished paper and a grant application.

Specifically, ORI said Pastorino “falsified and/or fabricated Western blot data for mitochondrial function related to cell/tissue injury, in fifty-eight (58) blot panels” and “fabricated and/or falsified quantitative data in associated bar graphs, statistical analyses presented in figure legends, and related text.” Under the voluntary debarment, Pastorino cannot apply for federal funding nor “receive nor be supported by funds of the United States Government and its agencies made available through grants, subgrants, cooperative agreements, contracts, or subcontracts.” The period began April 27.

Kenneth Walker, a former postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh, “falsified and/or fabricated quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) data to demonstrate a statistically significant or ‘trend’ of statistical difference in the expression of renal or bladder urothelium and muscle developmental markers between control and experimental (mutant) mice, when there was none,” ORI announced on May 6. Papers published in 2013 and 2015, one unpublished paper and two grant applications contained the data. Walker’s period of supervision began April 14; he also agreed not to serve in any advisory capacity to PHS during the three years.

The settlements mark the first to be issued this year by ORI, whose new director, Kathy Partin, arrived in December; they also occur amid news that the agency has resumed publishing its quarterly newsletter.


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