Sunday, June 30, 2013

Former Duke researcher charged with embezzlement has a paper retracted

A new retraction notice in the Journal of Applied Physiology gives only a hint at the problems in the paper, but what it does say has led us to a story about one of its co-authors.

Here’s the notice, from a team at Duke:

Auten RL, Mason SN, Potts-Kant EN, Chitano P, Foster WM. Early life ozone exposure induces adult murine airway hyperresponsiveness through Effects on airway permeability. J Appl Physiol; doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01368.2012.—After publication of the Articles in PresS version of this article, the authors became aware that the primary data used to calculate the in vivo pulmonary mechanics results were inconsistent with the machine-generated raw data, making the data presented in Figure 2 unreliable. We offer our formal apologies for this error and for any inconvenience associated with the publication of the article. The paper is therefore being retracted by the American Physiological Society at the request of Dr. Auten and with the approval of the co-uthors.

Please note that an effort was made to contact all authors. However, a response was not received from E.N. Potts-Kant.

Potts-Kant is Erin Nicole Potts-Kant, who is apparently no longer working at Duke. She may have bigger concerns than a retraction, however. In late March, about a week before the retraction notice appeared online, she was arrested on embezzlement charges. As The Herald Sun reported:

The charges stem from the alleged misuse of Duke University procurement cards that were in her name while she was an employee of the Duke University Health System.

She allegedly used the cards for $14,616.34 in merchandise from, Target, Walmart, and TigerDirect between Dec. 12, 2008, and Nov. 6, 2012.

Potts-Kant was released on $10,000 bail. She also holds a U.S. patent along with some of her former Duke colleagues, for a way to treat lung disease.

We’ve contacted the corresponding author of the paper for more details about how these errors came to the team’s attention, and asked Duke about the status of the case

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