Research Misconduct Investigation: College Statement and Retraction
In October 1994 Dr Lynn Bindman, Reader in Physiology and leader of a research group in the Department of Physiology, told Professor K M Spyer, Head of the Department, that she believed members of her group had uncovered evidence that research data had been falsified. She alleged that Dr Gerolemos Christofi, a former student at UCL who had been a member of her team between 1992 and 1994 had been responsible for this. Some of the allegedly falsified data had been published in the Proceedings of the Journal of Physiology and in the Society for Neuroscience Abstracts.
UCL's Provost, Sir Derek Roberts, decided to appoint a panel of independent experts from outside the College to investigate these allegations. Three senior neurophysiologists from the Universities of Bristol, Edinburgh and London were appointed. They conducted an investigation and reported to the Provost in December 1995.
The panel found that the falsification of research data was more extensive than originally alleged. The report concluded that Dr Christofi alone had been responsible. The other members of the research group, Dr Lynn Bindman, Dr Richard Vickery and Mr (now Dr) Michael Barry were completely exonerated of any falsification.
The College offered Dr Christofi the chance to have the material independently reviewed by an expert of his choice, and at the College's expense. He declined this offer. Dr Christofi submitted a written response to the panel's report and, through his barrister made an oral presentation to the Provost. Ultimately however the Provost accepted the panel's report and recommendations.
The College told Dr Christofi of its intention to publish a retraction of the published articles. In response Dr Christofi asked the Court for leave to apply for a judicial review of the College's conduct of the enquiry and for an injunction to prevent publication of the retraction. His application for leave was rejected by the High Court and also by the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal concluded, as had Mr Justice Owen in the High Court that UCL had conducted the investigation and proceedings fairly throughout and had not acted in breach of natural justice. UCL has submitted its retractions for publication by the Journal of Physiology and by the Society for Neuroscience.
For further information on this matter please contact Patrick Edwards, Head of Media Relations at University College London (tel: 0171 391 1621; fax: 0171 209 0117; e-mail: Media@ucl.ac.uk).
Note to Editors: The articles referred to in the statement above are Barry, M J, Christofi, G, and Bindman, L J, Journal of Physiology, 477,52p 1994, and Barry M J, Christofi G, Vickery, R M, and Bindman, L J, Society of Neuroscience Abstract 20, 370, 12, 1994).
Copies of the retraction letter from Sir Derek Roberts, Provost of UCL, and Professor K M Spyer, Head of the Department of Physiology at UCL, to the Journal of Physiology and the Society for Neuroscience, and of the Retraction Statement of Dr Lynn Bindman, Dr Richard Vickery and Dr Michael Barry are attached.