A Norwegian cancer researcher has admitted fabricating data published in a renowned international medical journal, officials in Norway said Saturday.
The researcher at Norway's Comprehensive Cancer Center, who was not identified, used faked patient data in an article on oral cancer published in the October 2005 issue of The Lancet, Britain's leading medical journal, said Stein Vaaler, strategy director for the cancer center.
The article claimed that a certain kind of drug decreased the risk of getting oral cancer and referred to results seen in patients in two national databases, Vaaler said in an interview.
A colleague raised questions about the article when it was published, and when the researcher was confronted this week about the data, he acknowledged the fabrication, Vaaler said.
"All of it was fabricated," Vaaler said. "It was not manipulation of real data — it was just complete fabrication."
The Washington-based journal Science announced Thursday that it was unconditionally retracting two papers by South Korean stem cell researcher Hwang Woo-suk, who publicly apologized for faking data that purported to show the creation of stem cells from the world's first cloned human embryos.
Vaaler said the center has informed The Lancet about the fabrication, and an external review committee will examine the researcher's methods and his previous publications.
A decision about whether the researcher should be fired will be made after the review committee issues its report, Vaaler said.
"This is a very serious situation for the hospital," the center's director, Aage Danielsson, said in a letter to colleagues that was posted on the Web site of The Norwegian broadcaster TV2.
There was no immediate reaction from The Lancet.