Mizzou biologist's research called into question

Saturday, November 4, 2006

The Associated Press

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- An investigation is looking into the reliability of life science research conducted by a team led by the University of Missouri-Columbia's recognized expert in reproductive biology, the Columbia Tribune reported.

The team was led by R. Michael Roberts. Rob Hall, research integrity officer for the university, confirmed the inquiry into findings reported in Science magazine in February. The magazine issued an alert last week advising scientists that the research "may not be reliable."

The only other alert issued in Science was related to the work of South Korean scientist Woo Suk Hwang, who later admitted he fabricated research into embryonic stem cell research and cloning.

Katrina Kelner, the magazine's deputy editor for life sciences, told the Tribune the warning was published after members of the scientific community questioned the findings and university officials confirmed that a preliminary inquiry indicated there might be a problem.

At issue was research indicating that immediately after the first division of a mouse embryo, the two cells take different paths. One cell was bound for creation of a placenta while the other began forming the fetus.

The issue that was raised, Kelner said, was that the results were implausible "based on what is known experimentally already."

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