The University of Manchester has cleared one of its former scientists of research misconduct, while a colleague still working at the institution has also been exonerated by his former employers.
In January, Manchester received allegations from a whistleblower of image manipulation in two papers co-authored by Akira Orimo, who until recently was a group leader at its Paterson Institute for Cancer Research. One paper was published in 2010, with Dr Orimo as senior author. The other was published in 1999, when he was a researcher at Kanazawa University in Japan.
The same whistleblower, known by the pseudonym “Clare Francis”, made similar allegations about 16 papers authored by Michael Lisanti, professor of cell biology and director of Manchester’s Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Unit. The papers were published between 1999 and 2012.
Manchester opened an investigation into the allegations about Dr Orimo, but a spokeswoman told Times Higher Education it had concluded that there was “no substance” to them. She added that Dr Orimo had now left Manchester, but declined to give further details. He is now based at Juntendo University in Japan.
He told THE: “I am grateful that the University of Manchester cleared me from suspicion.”
Based on advice from the US Office of Research Integrity, the allegations about Professor Lisanti were passed on to his former employers, Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City and Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, from which Professor Lisanti moved to Manchester in 2010.
The Manchester spokeswoman said the latter had not upheld the allegations, while the former had decided not to pursue the matter.
An Albert Einstein spokeswoman said this was because the work in question had been done more than seven years ago – beyond the period within which the ORI requires an in-depth investigation.
“Professor Lisanti left Einstein in 2006. [He has done] no research…at Einstein since that time so we did not pursue additional inquiries,” she added.
Professor Lisanti did not respond to an invitation to comment.
Manchester’s investigation into Dr Orimo came after its decision in 2011 not to open a formal inquiry into allegations about Silvia Bulfone-Paus and her husband Ralf Paus, scientists whom it employs on part-time contracts.
Professor Bulfone-Paus, professor of immunobiology, was sanctioned in 2010 by the Leibniz Society’s Research Center Borstel after it concluded that two postdoctoral researchers in her lab had manipulated data.