Cancer researcher under cloud of suspicion wins $300,000 science prize

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Carlo Croce

Carlo Croce, who has had numerous papers retracted and corrected for issues including image manipulation, has received an award for more than $300,000 for his achievements in personalized medicine.

The Dan David Prize, awarded earlier this month by a charitable organization based at Tel Aviv University, bestowed $1 million to three researchers who have “made pioneering and ground-breaking discoveries in the field of personalized medicine.”

Croce, chair of the Department of Cancer Biology and Genetics at The Ohio State University, shares this year’s award with two prominent researchersMary-Claire King, a professor of genome sciences and medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, and Bert Vogelstein, a professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.

According to his award profile, Croce has made major contributions to the understanding of the specific genetic bases of specific cancers.”

However, Croce has also been dodging misconduct accusations for decades, and his work continues to face scrutiny. By our count, Croce now has seven retractions, including one from last August for “errors that occurred in the construction” of several images.

Ori Cheshnovsky, the scientific advisor for the Dan David Prize, told Retraction Watch that everyone involved “was aware of Dr. Croce’s retractions and the allegations:”

The international ad-hoc committee for Personalized Medicine composed of the most respected, top scientists, recommended to award the Prize to Prof. Carlo Croce in view of his proven singular contributions to Personalized Medicine. The Dan David Prize Board accepted the committee’s recommendation.

This is not the first time Croce has received a notable award since the allegations came to light. Last year, the American Association for Cancer Research bestowed Croce with the prestigious Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research, which “recognizes a true champion of cancer research.”

The committee that recommended Croce for the Dan David Prize was chaired by one of Croce’s long-time collaborators Peter Vogt, who runs a lab at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. (Vogt and Croce were coauthors on a 2017 paper in PNAS). Croce has also co-authored several papers with two other members of the committee—Webster K. Cavenee and Nancy Jenkins.

Here’s more about the decision, according to Dan David’s profile of Croce:

[Croce] is a pioneer in the unraveling of the molecular basis of a number of lymphoma and leukemia cancers. Mastering both cytogenetics and molecular biology, he identified the role of major oncogenes as drivers of cancer development, progression and resistance to therapy.

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