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Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston to retract and correct some studies amid data manipulation claims

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BOSTON - The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston is retracting six studies and correcting 31 others following allegations of data manipulation by a blogger.

Sholto David, a molecular biologist, published a blog post earlier this month alleging researchers falsified data by manipulating images.

What did Dana-Farber do?  

More than 50 papers are part of the ongoing review by Dana-Farber into four researchers, all of whom have faculty appointments at Harvard Medical School. Dana-Farber is a teaching affiliate of Harvard. Four of the papers under review were authored by Dana-Farber CEO Laurie Glimcher.

"We are committed to a culture of accountability and integrity. Therefore, every inquiry is examined fully to ensure the soundness of the scientific literature. Dana-Farber has been swift and decisive in this regard," Dr. Barrett Rollins, Dana-Farber's research integrity officer and chief science officer emeritus, said in a statement to CBS News. 

Dana-Farber said "six manuscripts have retractions underway," 31 have been "identified as warranting corrections" and one "with a reported error remains under examination."

Dana-Farber has not determined whether misconduct has occurred.

Earlier this month, David published a blog post titled "Dana-Farberications at Harvard University," alleging researchers at the cancer institute manipulated images and data. David suggested Adobe Photoshop was used to copy and paste images in some of the papers.

Dana-Farber reviewing "potential data errors" 

According to Rollins, Dana-Farber said it was already reviewing "potential data errors" in multiple cases that the blog listed and stressed that the issues uncovered do not necessarily amount to misconduct.

"The presence of image discrepancies in a paper is not evidence of an author's intent to deceive. That conclusion can only be drawn after a careful, fact-based examination which is an integral part of our response. Our experience is that errors are often unintentional and do not rise to the level of misconduct," Rollins said.

"While software advancements can reveal anomalies not previously detected, AI programs are not foolproof. In fact, some of the allegations recently raised by a blogger against Dana-Farber researchers are wrong," Rollins said. 

He added that 16 of the allegations "contained data generated in laboratories other than those of the four Dana-Farber authors named in the blog."

The retractions and corrections add to the pressure on Harvard following weeks of scrutiny over how the Ivy League school responded to allegations of plagiarism facing Claudine Gay, who stepped down as the university's president earlier this month.

CNN's Matt Egan contributed to this report

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