A prominent cancer surgeon at Columbia University is coming under fire for publishing numerous studies with “suspicious data.”
Dr. Sam S. Yoon recycled images of tumor-affected mice in a 2021 study from his 2020 research, and the paper was “quietly” removed this month.
The article in question purported to describe a new drug that reduced the growth of stomach cancer, and the images of the mice were only rotated to make them look slightly different.
However, reports claim that the 2021 study was just the tip of the iceberg: Yoon has reprocessed the work in 26 studies since 2008.
Dr. Sam S. Yoon, who works at the medical center, recycled images of mice affected by tumors in a 2021 study from his 2020 research, and the paper was “quietly” removed this month.
DailyMail.com has contacted Yoon for comment.
Yoon graduated from Harvard University and went on to the University of California, San Diego to obtain his medical degree.
He currently serves as chief of the division of surgical oncology at Columbia University in New York City.
According to Columbia University’s website, Yoon’s lab “has been funded by the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute for 18 years.”
The latest cancer study was withdrawn a few months after its publication due to an investigation by the New York Times.
The study, ‘The PI3K/Akt and Nanog pathway maintain cancer stem cells in sarcomas,’ was co-authored with researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the University of Pennsylvania, and Fujian Medical University Union Hospital.
The article in question (left) claimed to describe a new drug that reduced the growth of stomach cancer and the images of the mice were only rotated to make them look slightly different.
Images of the cancer-ridden mice used in the 2021 article first appeared in the 2020 study (pictured)
Images of cancer-ridden mice used in the 2021 article first appeared in the study, ‘The ERK1/2-Nanog Signaling Pathway Enhances CD44(+) Cancer Stem Cell Phenotypes and Epithelial-to-Epithelial Transition mesenchymal in the squamous cells of the head and neck. carcinomas’ – published a year earlier.
Both articles discuss possible treatments for stomach cancer and the use of the same images suggests that the work is flawed.
The 2021 paper, co-authored by Changhwan Yoon, was published by Elsevier, which did not share an explanation for removing the paper.
However, the editor said, “The editors determined that the article violated the journal’s ethical publishing guidelines.” The decision could have been to not draw attention to the highly respected surgeon in his field.
Elsevier stated that the editors had notified researchers about the removal, but the authors did not share the news with Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Molecular biologist Sholto David first raised the alarm about Yoon’s work last year after discovering that the surgeon collaborated with a Rolodex of researchers on the 26 papers that featured repeated images of cancer cells and tumors.
David analyzed each of the articles with the help of AI-powered detection tools to uncover misleading data in the documents.
Harvard Medical Center, the University of California – Los Angeles, Howard University and Penn Medicine are among the top universities in the US and are where many of the researchers involved in Yoon’s study are affiliated.
Also on the list are experts from Mount Sinai Health System, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Georgetown and Duke University.
It is unclear whether the other researchers named in the articles were aware of the recycled information.
Other images used different color intensities to appear different from previous posts. The image on the right was used in 2021 and the left in 2018. According to David’s research, many of the repeat cell images matching the articles provide different treatment conditions.
David posted a blog in November 2023 about For better science about his findings and contacted Memorial Sloan Kettering, Columbia, and Memorial Sloan Kettering.
However, none of the publications were retracted until this month.
‘In total, I have found ten articles published between 2013 and 2021 where these invasion and migration images appear and are labeled as showing a variety of cell lines and conflicting experimental conditions, there are many more overlapping examples between these articles that I have not noted, ‘ David wrote on his blog.
The articles focused on why certain stomach and soft tissue cancers reject treatments and possible solutions to combat resistance.
According to David’s research, many of the images of repeat cells match those in other articles about treatments for different conditions.
A photograph of a tumor first appeared in a 2017 article (image below) with a measuring tool on the left side. It then reappeared three years later, but was rotated to show the ruler under the tumor (pictured above).
Other images used different color intensities to appear different from previous posts.
“There’s no reason to have done that unless you weren’t doing the job,” David told the New York Times.
A photograph of a tumor first appeared in a 2017 article with a measuring tool on the left side.
It then reappeared three years later, but was turned around to show the period beneath the tumor.
Elisabeth Bik, a microbiologist and imaging expert, said: “This is another example that this appears to be done intentionally.”
About nine papers that David found to have repeated data had appeared in Springer Nature, which said it was investigating concerns.
The American Association for Cancer Research affirmed the same response after being notified that it was featuring 10 disputed papers from Dr. Yoon’s lab in four journals.
The delay in responses has sparked fury among the scientific community, with researchers saying the scientific oversight system is “broken,” according to the New York Times.
“This is typical sweeping things under the rug nonsense,” said Dr. Ivan Oransky, co-founder of Retraction Watch, which maintains a database of more than 47,000 retracted articles. “This is not good for the scientific record, to put it mildly.