Ethics Blog Post

For my case, I have chosen a recent ethics violation found in November about Dr. David Panka. He was found guilty of altering western blot images. Panka, a former Harvard medical school instructor, was able to flip, cut, reorder, and reuse images of western blot images in three published papers and one conference presentation. He was doing this to represent different results than what he was actually receiving. He used these manipulated plots over 8 years.

What is striking to me is that Panka used these fabricated images in multiple papers over an 8-year time range. The fact that he was undetected for so long is shocking to me. You would think someone else working close with him would have noticed. How did the other authors of these papers or the reviewer not take notice of the falsified data? You would think that at some point down the line, someone would notice incorrect data. However, I do not necessarily think the other authors should be implicated in the crimes because they did not recognize the falsified data. They are not responsible for others’ actions as long as they are following all ethical guidelines themselves.

This case was intriguing to me because Panka was not suspended at all for his misconduct. Panka only has to endure three years of being monitored by the OIF but could still conduct research. I believe Panka deserves a harsher punishment. He should be banned from science for a few years, at least. Also, he should have to participate in some sort of ethics course, in my opinion. As researchers, we all know our responsibility to report accurate and valid data regardless of whether or not it is the response we were looking for or not. As a doctor, you should be able to recognize the implication falsifying data can have on science.

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