On Campus

UManitoba researcher faked findings

Said he found elusive hormone receptor that could protect plants against cold, drought

According to the Winnipeg Free Press, the University of Manitoba has sanctioned a former researcher after an internal investigation concluded he faked data and made up experiments. That work led to an apparently groundbreaking study that was retracted eight months ago by Nature, one of the world’s most prestigious science journals.

Plant science researcher Fawzi Razem, who worked in the lab of university professor Robert Hill, claimed to have discovered a receptor for the major hormone linked to a plant’s response to environmental stress. The receptor, which could help plants adapt to cold or drought, was identified in an article and featured in the editor’s summary in the January 2006 edition of Nature.

Concerns about the research emerged last summer, when a team of researchers from New Zealand couldn’t replicate Razem’s work. A December 2008 online edition of Nature said the study made “erroneous conclusions” and there is no evidence to support Razem’s findings.

He resigned when the initial allegations surfaced.

On July 30, UManitoba issued a statement confirming that Razem had committed fraud, which also said he will “never be recommended for an academic appointment of any kind at the university.”

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