Utrecht Univ. under fire for falsified data

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A former employee of the Utrecht University, Pankaj Dhonukshe, manipulated research results in such a way that it wasn't picked up by the standard quality checks until after the established magazine "Cell" retracted one of his articles. A closer study of his articles brought fabricated facts to light. Four articles, of which Dhonukshe was the main auteur, were published in scientific magazines "Nature" and "Cell."

The university stresses that the co-auteurs who also signed the articles are not guilty of violating the code of scientific integrity. The manipulation was so subtle the co-auteurs could not have detected the fabrication, according to Bert van der Zwaan, rector at the university. Dhonukshe's research in Utrecht concerned cell division, namely concerning the direction into which tissue grows. He received a Vidi-grant of €278,000 from research financer NWO, and an additional ERC grant of €1.6 million from the European Commision for his work. Early last year he moved to the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) in Gent, where he was fired in August, because his work did not meet the standards for scientific quality, integrity, and leadership, according to the VIB.