Media Coverage About SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now

Federal investigation follows retraction of five animal experimentation papers



Alexander Runko, Ph.D.
Division of Investigative Oversight
Office of Research Integrity
Via email: [email protected] [email protected]

Dr. Runko,

Fraudulent research must not be tolerated. You must convict William Armstead, formerly of the University of Pennsylvania, of Research Misconduct for the five fraudulent publications, which were retracted because "it was discovered that the data in the article could not be substantiated by the source data.”

This is not anything that even roughly resembles science; it is nothing but fraud. Armstead must be convicted of Research Misconduct, and he must receive the maximum penalty.


Federal investigation follows retraction of five animal experimentation papers

From, August 29, 2022

The federal Office of Research Integrity (ORI) has begun an investigation into alleged misconduct after the retraction of five papers involving animal experiments on newborn piglets led by a now retired professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

The ORI confirmed that it had initiated an oversight review into the retracted papers that were produced by teams of researchers led by pharmacology professor William Armstead at Penn, which is part of the US’s prestigious Ivy League Such reviews cover a range of alleged misconduct including fabrication, falsification or plagiarism in carrying out the research.

Armstead, who is described by Penn’s Perelman school of medicine as now being retired, was the lead author of the five papers, which were published in a range of peer-reviewed journals between 2016 and 2019. Three of the papers were published by the Journal of Neurotrauma, including one titled “Sex and age differences in epinephrine mechanisms and outcomes”, which used the piglet experiments to look at whether adrenaline could ameliorate impairments after traumatic brain injury.

The Journal of Neurotrauma in June issued a full retraction of the paper as well as two others. The journal’s editor-in-chief said it had done so at the request of Armstead himself, on the grounds that “substantive questions have arisen regarding the findings, presentation and conclusions reported in the paper that could not be answered with available source data”.

The journal added that leading up to the retraction, both the publisher and editor had requested additional information from Armstead relating to questions that had been raised “that invalidated the findings in the study”. But he did not respond to the concerns. They agreed to his request for a retraction after receiving agreements from the co-authors.

The Guardian has contacted Armstead, as well as the University of Pennsylvania, for comment. Neither replied immediately.

The editor and publisher of the Journal of Neurotrauma said they were “committed to preserving the accuracy of scientific literature”.

The doubts surrounding the Penn research were first brought to the attention of the ORI by the advocacy group Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! (SAEN). It has sent a series of complaints to the federal watchdog accusing Armstead of research misconduct and demanding an investigation

A press release on Monday from SAEN described the Armstead research papers that have been retracted as “gruesome, multimillion dollar tax-funded experiments”. It said that the research had “inflicted traumatic head injuries on dozens of newborn piglets”.

In the ORI complaint, SAEN’s executive director, Michael Budkie, argued that the deaths of so many piglets in the course of now doubted science was “utterly reprehensible”.

He wrote: “The only conclusion that can be drawn is that this is indefensible ‘science’. It is clear from the articles themselves that dozens of ‘newborn pigs’ were killed in what are clearly scientifically meaningless retracted studies.”

At least some of the five research papers that have now been retracted were funded with public money. The “Sex and Age Differences” research was carried out with a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health that amounted to almost $2m, according to SAEN.

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