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SCIENCE IN MIND

Aging study retracted due to alleged fraud

A former Brigham and Women’s-affiliated researcher has been found by a federal agency to have fabricated data in a 2012 paper published in the journal Age, according to a retraction notice published Saturday.

The retraction notice, first reported by the blog Retraction Watch, stated that the National Institutes of Health has found that Fei Gao, the researcher who led the work which was done at the NIH and was also affiliated with the Brigham, had either fabricated or falsified data in several scientific figures and tables used to support the paper’s conclusions.

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“The NIH found that Dr. Fei Gao engaged in research misconduct by fabricating and/or falsifying data in Figures 1-7 and Table 2,” the senior author of the work, Stanley Rapoport, a researcher at NIH, wrote to the journal. “Please note, none of the other authors were implicated in any way.”

The study, which describes the metabolic effects of aging in the rat liver, was retracted because the results could not be reproduced and are now considered unreliable.

A Brigham spokeswoman said that the hospital has learned that it “did not have any role in the publication retracted by the NIH group.” He is not currently employed by the hospital, and his Brigham email is no longer active.

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Gao was the only author listed on the paper with a Brigham affiliation.

The retraction is of what appears to be a relatively minor paper that has been cited only twice by other scientists, and it is unrelated to recent questions raised about other high profile work at the Brigham.

Carolyn Y. Johnson can be reached at cjohnson@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @carolynyjohnson.
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