Monday, January 6, 2020

Frances Arnold retracts 2019 Science paper

American scientist Frances Arnold, who won the Nobel Prize for chemistry, has retracted her latest paper. 
Prof Arnold shared the award with George P Smith and Gregory Winter for their research on enzymes in 2018. 
A subsequent paper on enzymatic synthesis of beta-lactams was published in the journal Science in May 2019. It has been retracted because the results were not reproducible, and the authors found data missing from a lab notebook.
Sounds like there's a story here, but I don't think we're going to hear it any time soon.


  1. I was a postdoc at Caltech (not in the Arnold lab) and I saw firsthand how dishonest grad students and fellow postdocs can be. I do not blame Frances at all in this situation, as she clearly cares more about correcting the record than trying to salvage a recent high-impact paper.

    Of course this type of thing will happen when the faculty do not actually work in the lab themselves. There is intrinsic trust between faculty and their group members. She trusted her grad student, found out her grad student wasn't trustworthy, and is handling this appropriately.

  2. Everyone who went to grad school in a competitive department knows of at least one paper that should have been retracted, but wasn't.

    So it's great to see Arnold owning it and doing the ethical thing. More people should!

    1. There are many high-impact publications from a certain prof at one of the Scripps' locations whom I know firsthand has ignored reproducibility concerns and straight up lied in MANY of his articles.

      I'm glad to see the opposite of this type of person exists out there.

  3. I wonder if Arnold fired any grad students for being unable to reproduce the work, like Dalibor Sames did with Bengu Sezen's now-discredited results.