MD Anderson Cancer Center Postdoc Faked Results Of Novartis AG Brain Tumor Study

Published: Aug 07, 2014

M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Postdoc Faked Results Of Novartis AG Brain Tumor Study M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Postdoc Faked Results Of Novartis AG Brain Tumor Study
August 1, 2014
By Jessica Wilson, Breaking News Staff

Dr. Jun Fu, an award-winning former Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Neuro-Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, has admitted to faking the results of the effects of the compound HSP990 on glioblastomas in mice. NVP-HSP990 is being developed by Novartis in collaboration with Vernalis to fight brain tumors.

Three months ago, MD Anderson announced that Fu was one of the winners of the 2014 Caroline Ross Endowment Fellowship. Today, the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), part of the Department of Health and Human Services, has cited Fu for falsifying data in a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Cancer Research, the most frequently cited cancer journal in the world.

As a result of an inquiry conducted by MDACC and analyzed by ORI, Fu has admitted to “knowingly and intentionally falsifying” information in the article. According to the ORI Findings of Research Misconduct, Fu falsified “survival times of mice to show that NVP-HSP990 prolonged survival rates in glioblastoma tumor bearing mice when experimental data were incomplete and unusable.”

The experiment was written up for a paper entitled, “Novel HSP90 Inhibitor NVP-HSP990 Targets Cell-Cycle Regulators to Ablate Olig2-Positive Glioma Tumor–Initiating Cells,” published in Cancer Research on May 15, 2013. Since its publication, the paper has been cited twice, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. MDACC has urged the senior author on the paper to correct the scientific literature.

Fu’s research on NVP-HSP990 was supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute (Grant CA56041) and the National Institutes of Health (Grant CA127001).

As a result of the findings of this inquiry and beginning on July 15, 2004, Fu has agreed to have his research supervised for two years and to refrain from serving on any US Public Health advisory committee, board and peer-review committee.. No mention of his Caroline Ross Endowment Fellowship has been made. Reaction to the news in the comments section of the respected blog Retraction Watch has coalesced around the view that Fu wasn’t sufficiently punished for results-falsification. Retraction Watch is a blog run by Adam Marcus, the managing editor of Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News and Anesthesiology News and by Ivan Oransky, the vice president and global editorial director of MedPage Today. The blog has strict rules for commenters that include barring “ad hominem attacks, unfounded allegations and unverified facts.”

The Novartis compound has been the subject of several other studies. A Phase I study on HSP990 was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting last year. Fu isn’t listed as a co-author of this multi-site study.

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