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Bit of a Specter

Ohio State University's Carlo Croce is facing a new set of research misconduct allegations, the New York Times reports.

Over the years, Croce has received millions in grants, numerous awards, and published dozens upon dozens of papers. He's published on the role of genes in cancer development and, more recently, on the role of microRNAs in cancer. Croce is known for making broad claims about his findings, the Times says.

At the same time, the Times notes that watchdogs and whistleblowers have been on alert. Since 2007, it says that there have been a series of allegations that have led to investigations, but that all the cases have been closed.

But in 2013, the pseudonymous tipster Clare Francis alerted officials at Ohio State and the US Office of Research Integrity about some 30 papers of Croce's that Francis alleged had improperly manipulated western blots and other data, the Times reports. Similarly, it notes that in 2014, David Sanders, a virologist at Purdue University, alerted journals Croce published in about suspected incidents of falsified data within his papers.

Since then, the Times writes that a number of journals have issued editor's notes, corrections, and retractions for some of Croce's papers. However, inquiries at Ohio State have not formally found that scientific misconduct or fraud took place. In one instance, two younger researchers admitted unintentionally altering western blot and other images. However, the Times notes that OSU never convened a formal investigation committee — it instead came to an "alternative resolution" — because there wasn't that much data for the committee to review, which it says means the researchers couldn't find their original data.

Croce has denied any wrongdoing, the Times adds.