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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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« Budgets and Revenues | Main | A Good Example of Phenotypic Screening »

November 14, 2012

Hexacyclinol Retracted. It Only Took Six Years.

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Posted by Derek

Via Chemjobber's Twitter feed comes news of this: the formal retraction of the LaClair hexacyclinol synthesis.

The retraction has been agreed due to lack of sufficient Supporting Information. In particular, the lack of experimental procedures and characterization data for the synthetic intermediates as well as copies of salient NMR spectra prevents validation of the synthetic claims. The author acknowledges this shortcoming and its potential impact on the community

Potential? After six years? There were people taking their first undergraduate organic course when this controversy hit who are now thinking about how to start tying together their PhD dissertations. It seems that Angewandte Chemie is very loath to go the full-retraction route (there haven't been many), but that retraction notice doesn't bring up anything that wasn't apparent after the first ten minutes of reading the paper.

Update: Wavefunction isn't too impressed, either.

Comments (18) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Chemical News | The Scientific Literature


1. eugene on November 14, 2012 11:18 AM writes...

Yes! Congratulations Andjewandte! You have taken a step towards becoming a better chemistry journal. The retraction policy should be changed so that it doesn't need approval of all the authors.

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2. anon the II on November 14, 2012 11:19 AM writes...

What's interesting is what you see when you hit the little button that says:

Find more content written by: James J. La Clair

He's quite prolific before and since. How much of it is pure bunk? And how many James J. La Clair's are out there?

And has it really been 6 years? Seems like yesterday.

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3. Curious Wavefunction on November 14, 2012 11:49 AM writes...

The retraction is of course warranted (and sets a new standard for the word "overdue") but I don't think it accurately reflects how bad the situation was. As I say on my blog, it's not just that the Supp Info was incomplete or the procedure was irreproducible, it's that the whole thing was essentially made up. The retraction does not reflect this in my opinion.

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4. Lyle Langley on November 14, 2012 12:38 PM writes...

Meh. Justice delayed is justice denied.

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5. Christophe Verlinde on November 14, 2012 2:20 PM writes...

Despite the retraction Dr La Clair's website at the Xenobe Research Institute still sounds a bit defiant.


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6. Newbie on November 14, 2012 5:43 PM writes...

Wow, I just realized that XRI is a non-profit. The website states that the sole employee (him) does not take a salary and instead funnels most money (federally funded grants) towards collaborators. This just seems wrong to me on sooo many levels...

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7. Ye Ould Sod on November 14, 2012 5:58 PM writes...

Xenobe Research Institute is not listed on Google maps anymore? Hmm

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8. Chemjobber on November 14, 2012 6:49 PM writes...

XRI website says it moved out of Normal Heights. Shame, it's a neat neighborhood to have a lab in.

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9. Anonny on November 14, 2012 9:47 PM writes...

What ever happened to the Bionic Brothers?

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10. Quintus on November 15, 2012 12:12 AM writes...

Long Live the Bionic Brothers:-/

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11. Jose on November 15, 2012 12:36 AM writes...

Last I heard they had rejoined the Borg Collective.

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12. Judas on November 15, 2012 2:37 AM writes...

Just as Jesus died on the cross for our sins, so did La Clair die in Angewandte for our hype, malpractice and misconduct

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13. Neuroskeptic on November 15, 2012 4:10 AM writes...

Looks like he successfully 'synthesized'... some data.

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14. Matt on November 15, 2012 10:20 AM writes...

@Judas: Now that was funny. But your theo-analogy is all wrong, unless you are saying he's innocent? And does he then become the patron saint of frauds?

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15. Judas on November 15, 2012 11:48 AM writes...

Matt, it all depends on your take on religion

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16. ScientistSailor on November 15, 2012 12:28 PM writes...

@15. Science is my religion, do not question Science...

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17. Hap on November 15, 2012 1:12 PM writes...

I'm not seeing any justice (or sacrifice) here at all - ACIEE published a paper from LaClair with almost no experimental details, except a sketchy NMR with the solvent peak moved (and, based on this, not just sketchy because of the solvent peak), and six years later, it gets pulled because, roughly, "no one likes papers with no experimentally verifiable data". I thought that that was the point of a paper in the first place, so giving "insufficient data" as if it were some sort of news flash and as a reason for retraction seems content-free.

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18. Anon on November 15, 2012 1:48 PM writes...

15: If it's not science it's CRAP. And this is crap.

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