Joint committee of the DFG reprimands Professor Rolf-Hermann Ringert

07/11/05

Evidence of scientific misconduct found

At its meeting on 5 July 2005, the Joint Committee of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) issued a reprimand against the head of the Institute of Urology at the University Hospital of Göttingen, Professor Rolf-Hermann Ringert, after he was found to have violated the rules of good scientific practice. In addition to the reprimand, Professor Ringert will not be eligible to apply for DFG funding in the next eight years and will also not be able to serve as a peer reviewer during this time. Furthermore, he is denied the right to vote in DFG elections for the same period.

A study into the treatment of renal cell carcinoma was conducted at the Institute of Urology at Göttingen's University Hospital from 1996 onwards. Professor Ringert was – and still is – the head of the institute; he also served as an elected peer reviewer for the DFG between 1995 and 2003.

The treatment given to 17 cancer patients was based on the research findings published in the journal Nature Medicine 6, 332–336 (2000). The publication was subsequently found to contain a number of serious flaws, and was therefore withdrawn by the authors in September 2003.

The DFG's Committee of Inquiry on Allegations of Scientific Misconduct investigated the allegations of scientific misconduct made against Professor Ringert, building on the results of the inquiry conducted by Göttingen University. It came to the conclusion that the publication in Nature Medicine showed evidence of severe scientific misconduct. The committee was of the opinion that the flaws listed were to be regarded as false statements. Professor Ringert, as both the senior author of the paper and head of the clinical study as well as the head of the Institute of Urology where the study was conducted, is responsible for these flaws.

As an elected peer reviewer Professor Ringert played a key role in fulfilling the DFG's statutory goals – selecting the best projects through fair and transparent competition.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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