FINDINGS OF SCIENTIFIC MISCONDUCT

Notice Number: NOT-OD-09-032

Key Dates
Release Date: December 18, 2008

Issued by
Department of Health and Human Services

Notice is hereby given that the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) and the Assistant Secretary for Health have taken final action in the following case:

Homer D. Venters, Jr., M.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Based on the report of an investigation conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and extensive additional image analysis conducted by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) found that Dr. Homer D. Venters, former graduate student, Neuroscience Program, UIUC, engaged in scientific misconduct in research supported by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institutes of Health (NIH), awards R01 MH051569 and F30 MH12558 and National Institute on Aging (NIA), NIH, award R01 AG06246.

Specifically, PHS found that the Respondent committed misconduct in science:

By intentionally and knowingly preparing and including duplicate image data in Figures 5 and 10 of PHS fellowship application F31 MH12558, “Neurodegeneration via TNF-alpha inhibition of IGF-1,” submitted in 1999, which was funded as F30 MH12558 from June 1, 2000, to May 31, 2003. Because the duplicate data were labeled as having been obtained from different experiments, the results for at least one of the two figures were intentionally falsified and constitute an act of scientific misconduct.

By intentionally and knowingly preparing and including duplicate image data in Figure 3 and/or 4 of a manuscript submitted and published as: Venters, H.D., et al. ``A New Mechanism of Neurodegeneration: A Proinflammatory Cytokine Inhibits Receptor Signaling by a Survival Peptide.' Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. 96:9879-9884, 1999.

By preparing and providing to his dissertation committee in March 2000 a thesis proposal entitled ``An Alternate Mechanism of Neurodegeneration: Silencing of Insulin-like Growth Factor-I survival signals by Tumor Necrosis Factor-[alpha],' which contained five falsified figures: Figures 1.3, 1.4a, 2.1b, 2.3e, and 2.5b. In each figure, he reused data within the same figure or in another thesis proposal figure as representing differently treated samples or as data obtained with different immunoblotting antisera.

In March and April 2001, Respondent included several of the same falsified figures as in the thesis proposal and multiple additional falsified figures in his dissertation ``Silencing of Insulin-like Growth Factor I Neuronal Survival Signals by Tumor Necrosis Factor-[alpha].' In all, Figures 3.3, 3.4a, 3.4b, 4.1b, 4.3a, 4.5b, 5.1a, 5.2, 5.4a, 5.5a, 5.6a, 5.7a, and 5.8a were falsified. In each instance, he assembled figures by reusing significant data, on some occasions after manipulating the orientation of the data, either within the same figure or in other figures related to his thesis and represented the data falsely as coming from different samples or different experiments.

Dr. Venters has entered into a Voluntary Settlement Agreement (Agreement) in which he has voluntarily agreed, for a period of three (3) years, beginning on November 19, 2008:

(1) That any institution that submits an application for PHS support for a research project on which the Respondent's participation is proposed or that uses the Respondent in any capacity on PHS-supported research, or that submits a report of PHS-funded research in which the Respondent is involved, must concurrently submit a plan for monitoring of the Respondent's research to the funding agency and ORI for approval; the monitoring plan must be designed to ensure the scientific integrity of the Respondent's research contribution; Respondent agreed that he will not participate in any PHS-supported research until such a monitoring plan is submitted to ORI and the funding agency;

(2) That Respondent will ensure that any institution employing him will submit to ORI, in conjunction with each application for PHS funds or report, manuscript, or abstract of PHS-funded research in which the Respondent is involved, a certification that the data provided by the Respondent are based on actual experiments or are otherwise legitimately derived, and that the data analyses, procedures, and methodology are accurately reported in the application or report; Respondent must ensure that the institution sends a copy of each certification to ORI; and

(3) To exclude himself from serving in any advisory capacity to PHS, including but not limited to service on any PHS advisory committee, board, and/or peer review committee, or as a consultant or contractor to PHS. Respondent also voluntarily agreed that within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement:

(4) He will submit a letter to the journal editor, with copies to his coauthors, identifying his falsification of Figures 3 and/or 4 in the following article: Venters et al. ``A New Mechanism of Neurodegeneration: A Proinflammatory Cytokine Inhibits Receptor Signaling by a Survival Peptide.' Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 96:9879-9884, 1999.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Director
Division of Investigative Oversight
Office of Research Integrity,
1101 Wootton Parkway
Suite 750
Rockville, MD 20852
(240) 453-8800


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