Cancer Research Scientist Faces Credibility Questions

What The New York Times calls "years of ethics charges" have plagued a cancer researcher, but new problems may be his final undoing. Dr. Carlo Croce, at Ohio State University, has brought in $86 million in federal grants, but the Times reports, "he overstated his expansive claims for the therapeutic promise of his work, and that his laboratory is focused more on churning out papers than on carefully assessing its experimental data."

David A. Sanders, a virologist at Purdue University, has called out more than 20 of Croce's papers claiming falsified data: "It's a reckless disregard for the truth."

In a nifty, interactive visual, The New York Times shows how Croce's work was manipulated in one journal article. If you look closely, you see that a bright line is disjointed, warning that some copying and pasting took place. Indeed, samples 6, 7, and 8 are identical to 3, 4, and 5.


Also questionable is Croce's work as an advisor to the Council for Tobacco Research. Although Croce says he believes smoking causes lung cancer, the Council has used his work to prove otherwise.

One of the biggest questions is the role of Ohio State University: did the administration dismiss charges that should have been more seriously considered? The University responded to the article in a short opinion letter, concluding, "While the review is still underway, the independent experts have found that our policies meet with national research compliance standards. They have also found no evidence that Ohio State deviated from those policies in reviewing allegations of research misconduct."


  • Read the NYT article. What do you believe are the most egregious claims against Croce?
  • Look online for other examples of image manipulation in scientific journals. Should  peer-review journals be more vigilant in catching these falsifications? Or are they too difficult to judge?
  • Analyze the University's opinion letter. Which parts do you find most and least convincing?