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June 16, 2006

SCIENTIFIC FRAUD

Sames Retracts More Papers

Columbia U. professor publishes notices that former grad student's work cannot be reproduced

William G. Schulz

Four more papers are being retracted by Columbia University Professor of Chemistry, Dalibor Sames, again because work by his coauthor and former Ph.D. student, Bengü Sezen, allegedly could not be reproduced (C&EN Online, March 15).

Three of the newly retracted papers appeared in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) and a fourth appeared in Organic Letters, another ACS publication (Org. Let. 2006, 8, 2899). All of the papers dealt with research on the selective activation of C???H bonds on a molecule, a technique commonly used to functionalize hydrocarbons.

Formal notices of the retractions of the JACS papers will be posted online (pubs.acs.org/journals/jacsat) on June 21, notes JACS editor Peter J. Stang, a professor of chemistry at the University of Utah. He had no other comment.

Sames could not be reached by C&EN for comment and, in the past, has refused to comment because of an ongoing investigation of Sezen and her work by Columbia.

Sezen has cried foul over the retractions, maintaining that she has never been properly notified or consulted. What's more, she claims not only that her work can be reproduced but that it has been reproduced by other members of the Sames group (C&EN Online, March 23). Her assertions cannot be verified because no one in the Sames group has been willing to speak with C&EN.

Sezen now also claims that Sames did not use the proper catalysts when trying to reproduce her work. In an e-mail to C&EN, she writes: "It is as simple as this: You can not make espresso without coffee beans. Prof. Sames and coworkers claimed in their retractions that they could not reproduce my recipe for espresso. And later (when I asked which brand of coffee beans they used), they stated that they did not have (and never had) coffee beans. Without having coffee beans, how can one try to reproduce the recipe?"

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