The March 12 front-page article “Behind acclaimed research, doubts” contained serious flaws. First, it was based heavily on the perspective of one former Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine employee. Second, three key points we made to The Post’s reporter were not reflected in the report:
●We explained that we don’t discuss personnel issues with the media.
●We noted that the former employee, Daniel Yuan, first expressed his concerns about a paper in the journal Nature last May, five months after his employment ended.
●We emphasized that discussion and debate are encouraged in research, particularly in labs at Johns Hopkins, and that peer-reviewed journals have a mechanism for airing questions and making corrections.
In light of inferences that have been drawn from public interpretations of the article, it is important to make clear that Dr. Yuan’s Johns Hopkins employment did not terminate because he challenged data. In fact, senior investigator Jef Boeke extended Dr. Yuan’s employment for two years after the grant that supported Dr. Yuan’s salary ended, to give Dr. Yuan a chance to submit new grant applications. The e-mails quoted in the article to support Dr. Yuan’s claims relate to a different, as yet unpublished, study.
In contrast to the article’s characterization of our response, both Dr. Boeke and Johns Hopkins have taken Dr. Yuan’s comments extremely seriously and have spent considerable effort evaluating the work in question. Careful scientific investigation and peer review take time. This process of publication, debate and correction undergirds the entire research endeavor that advances new discovery. At the conclusion of our evaluation, if issues are identified, we will take appropriate measures.
At Johns Hopkins, we are extremely grateful to receive federal research funding. We take seriously our responsibility as stewards of that funding, holding ourselves to the highest standards of integrity.
Landon S. King, Baltimore
The writer is executive vice dean and vice dean for research at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.