Friday, September 11, 2020

Junk science

Arizona State investigating data anomalies in work by two former neuroscience faculty members

Arizona State University is investigating two former faculty members suspected of falsifying data in several of their papers.

The inquiry centers on Antonella Caccamo and Salvatore Oddo, who recently lost their 2016 article in Molecular Psychiatry, a Nature journal, titled “p62 improves AD-like pathology by increasing autophagy.”  

Caccamo once held a research appointment in the ASU-Banner Neurodegenerative Disease Research CenterOddo, also worked in the center, where he was an associate professor. 

While at ASU — including Banner Health — Odd received more than $11 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and was co-PI on grant from the National Science Foundation worth more than $220,000. Caccamo received one grant from NIH, in 2018, totaling roughly $543,000. 

According to the retraction notice

The Editor-in-Chief and publisher have retracted this article [1] after an investigation by Arizona State University concluded that Figs. 1c and 4a had been manipulated and falsified by one or more of the authors. The Editor-in-Chief therefore no longer has confidence in the validity of the results and conclusions presented in this article. 

A. Caccamo, C. Branca and S Oddo agree with this retraction. E. Ferreira has not responded to correspondence related to this retraction.

Caccamo and Oddo also lost a 2018  paper in Neurobiology of Aging, for similar reasons:

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief and the authors. An institutional inquiry concluded that two authors (A.C and S.O.) misrepresented data in Figures 3A, 4A and 6A, and that the report’s conclusions are not reliable. The other author (R.B.) was not found at fault.

The authors regret this and apologize to readers of Neurobiology of Aging.

One of Caccamo and Oddo’s papers was indirectly linked to a controversial and subsequently retracted article in the Journal of Neuroscience about Alzheimer’s disease that we covered in 2015. Accoring to the blog Alzforum, the retracted paper contradicted an earlier study from the ASU researchers.

Heather Clark, director of research operations at ASU, told us: 

An investigation into research misconduct by two former faculty members is ongoing. The university started the investigation in the fall of 2018 immediately after anomalies in some of the scientific work of Salvatore Oddo and Antonella Caccamo were reported. Notification to all affected parties is ongoing.    

At least two other papers by Oddo and Caccamo, both in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, have been flagged on PubPeer for image issues, and another paper — a 2004 article in the Journal of Clinical Investigation — by Oddo (without Caccamo) also has come under scrutiny on the site. 

We could not reach Caccamo or Oddo for comment.

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