Dr. Anil Potti, a cancer researcher, resigned yesterday as concerns were voiced regarding his research after Duke University, where he works, starting checking whether his grant application had been done honestly. Potti resigned his associate professor of medicine post at Duke University School of Medicine, as well as the Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, also at Duke. A university communiqué wrote that his resignation was voluntary, has been accepted, and is effective immediately.

Joseph Nevins, Ph.D., who worked with Potti, is in the process of requesting a retraction of a paper that had been published in Nature Medicine. The university wrote that this is “..due to concerns about the reproducibility of reported predictors, and their possible effect on the overall conclusions in this paper.” Apparently, Nevins said that a number of the tests in the research for that article cannot be duplicated.

Duke University says that other papers linked to this science are also being looked into. The three clinical trials based on this research have been suspended.

Potti has been under investigation by the University since the summer; since his claim of being a Rhodes Scholar* was checked over and found to be false. He made this claim on a federal grant application. He was put on administrative leave.

* The Rhodes Scholarship is the world’s most prestigious scholarship, according to various top academic centers and journals. It is named after Cecil Rhodes and is an international award for postgraduate study at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom.

A study on gene patterns that had the potential for predicting a breast cancer patient’s response to specific chemotherapies had details which concerned statisticians from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Two biostatisticians failed to replicate his work after year of attempts. There were several questions regarding the methods he used in the study. Then 15 more scientists from Europe communicated their concerns regarding the validity and reliability of the report to The National Cancer Institute.

A 5-year grant worth $729,000 from the American Cancer Society was suspended during the probe.

The Journal of Clinical Oncology retracted one of Potti’s papers yesterday because it has been impossible to reproduce the experiments.

Sources: Duke University, Journal of Clinical Oncology

Written by Christian Nordqvist