U.S. Misconduct Regulators Sanction Stem Cell Researcher

A former postdoctoral researcher who worked in the lab of a promising stem cell biologist engaged in scientific misconduct, faking images and other data in two papers that were later retracted, according to U.S. government investigators. Shane Mayack was a postdoc in the lab of Amy Wagers at Harvard University’s Joslin Diabetes Center, studying blood stem cells. Two years ago, Mayack’s three co-authors on a Nature paper retracted it; a second paper, published in 2008 in the journal Blood, was pulled by Wagers late last year.

The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) of the Department of Health and Human Services found that Mayack used images from other publications to “falsely represent” her own and mislabeled data in both papers. Mayack “neither admits nor denies” the findings of misconduct, according to the settlement reached with ORI. She agrees to have any federally funded research she conducts over the 3 three years supervised to ensure its scientific integrity. ORI’s investigation did not identify wrongdoing by any other authors on the papers, including Wagers.

Last year, Mayack shared her thoughts on the case in an unedited essay published by Retraction Watch. She no longer works at Harvard.