On Second Thought: Blood sample fraud

A scientist handling a blood sample in a test tube.

Talk about a bloody mess. A researcher in Texas has admitted that she used her own blood instead of that from real patients in nearly 100 samples for studies she was helping conduct. According to the Office of Research Integrity, Maria Cristina Miron Elqutub committed the deception while at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, one of the country’s leading oncology hospitals. Elqutub drew her own blood and forged the labels on 98 vials to make them look like they’d been drawn from participants in the research, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health. The bogus-blood scandal so far has led to the retraction of one paper, in the journal Cancer, and the likely retraction of a second article, from PLOS ONE. Her colleagues became aware of the fraud when later analyses of the lab values turned up identical — something you think would have occurred to her when she was faking the samples.