Data faked in immune-system study

Michael R. Lieber thought his team was onto something novel and important. Robert B. Tracy, one of the researchers in Lieber’s laboratory at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles, had found evidence that never-before-seen molecules composed of RNA and DNA played a role in creating antibodies (SN: 6/3/00, p. 363: Available to subscribers at RNA and DNA help cells switch class).

It was too good to be true. After Lieber couldn’t replicate the experiments himself, Tracy admitted that he’d fabricated the data suggesting the existence of the RNA-DNA hybrids. Tracy has resigned his position at the university. In the Aug. 18 Science, Lieber and his colleagues published a letter retracting the previous report.

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