Angier, Natalie. "Scientists Retract Embryo Study, Saying Research Was Fraudulent," New
York Times, 9 June 1992, p. C3.
A "clear case" of fraud in science is a rarity. Here is one. A paper published in March, 1991, in
the journal Cell has been withdrawn by several of its co-authors who state simply that the main
author of the paper fabricated the results reported in it. The author accused of fraud is a graduate
student. The clamors come from co-authors at NIH; and the confessed fraud in science was a
doctoral student at Georgetown as well as a medical student as Harvard.
Doctor Louis M. Staudt heads the NIH laboratory where the fraud occurred informed the editor
of Cell, Benjamin Lewin, of the fraud. The editor inserted the blunt-language retraction. The
clear accusation was made possible by the confession of the accused: Mitch Rosner. The
confessed fraud has withdrawn from Georgetown University and expects a decision soon from
the medical school at Harvard concerning his enrollment there.
Mr. Rosner is described by Angier as fitting the prototype of the cheating scientist: "an
exceptionally intelligent and promising young researcher who has no obvious need to commit
fraud. Dr. Staudt described him as Ďa very bright student who had done some quite good work
initially.' So successful was he in his research that in 1990, Mr. Rosner was the principal author
on a major report published in the journal Nature, a coveted honor for a graduate student."
"The retraction throws into question a flourishing subspeciality of biology, the study of critical
molecular signals that control mammalian development at the moment a fertilized egg begins
rapid growth into an animal." The work was clearly important and other scientists had trouble
trying to reproduce the experiment. "Dr. Staudt said that when Mr. Rosner learned that the other
scientists were having trouble reporducing his experiments, he raced back to Bethesda from
Harvard and tried to manipulate the new efforts apparently by coming into the lab after hours and
working illicitly with the data on the cells. In the end, there was no way to hide."
Failed efforts at replication coupled with a confession are very rare in science.