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A liver researcher who worked at Yale University for 15 years faked data in multiple papers and grant applications, according to the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI).

Carlo Spirli, who rose to the rank of associate professor before leaving Yale in 2020, “engaged in research misconduct by knowingly, what is the drug lithium carbonate used for intentionally, or recklessly falsifying and/or fabricating data” in four published papers, two presentations, and three NIH grant applications, the ORI said in announcing its findings today.

Spirli, according to the ORI:

knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly falsified and/or fabricated Western blot image data for cholangiopathies in a murine model of Congenital Hepatic Fibrosis (CHF) by reusing blot images, with or without manipulating them to conceal their similarities, and falsely relabeling them as data representing different experiments or proteins and falsifying quantitative data in associated graphs purportedly derived from those images in twenty-one (21) figures included in four (4) papers, two (2) presentations, and three (3) grant applications. In the absence of reliable image and numerical data, the figures, statistical analyses, and related text also are false.

The papers were published in Hepatology. One, from 2015, was retracted at the end of 2022. It has received  16 citations, 15 of which came before the retraction and one since,  according to Clarivate’s Web of Science. 

Another of the papers, published in 2012, has been cited 48 times, and was corrected in 2022. A different 2012 paper has been cited 49 times, and a 2013 paper has been cited 39 times.

Spirli, whose now-deleted LinkedIn profile suggests he now works at Guilford, Conn.-based AI Therapeutics, agreed to a four-year ban on federal funding beginning late last month, and to correct or retract the other three papers named in the ORI finding. Neither he nor Brigette Roberts, the CEO of AI Therapeutics, immediately responded to a request for comment from Retraction Watch.

Spirli was awarded more than $1.2 million for an NIH grant, “Cross talk between epithelial, inflammatory and mesenchymal cells in the development of portal fibrosis,” that ran from 2015 through 2017.

DISCLOSURE: Adam Marcus, a cofounder of Retraction Watch, is an editor at Medscape.

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