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FRESH SCIENCE for Clinicians
News about basic science of interest and relevance for cancer clinicians
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Clarification on purportedly “blinded” samples in Duke case

I wrote in my previous post about Joseph Nevins’ responsibility as primary investigator in the Duke-led work that has now been shown to include falsified data. In that post, I noted that Dr. Nevins said he continued to believe in the integrity of the work in large part because it had been confirmed using an independent and supposedly blinded set of samples. I also pointed out that one IOM committee member mentioned during the meeting this week that not only were they not blinded but that the all-important patient response data was included with the sample tubes.


I mentioned that last point to highlight the extent of Dr. Nevins’ lack of oversight; if he had looked even cursorily, he would have seen the samples were not blinded at all.


One of my readers subsequently pointed out to me, in a private email, that the phrasing made it sound like this was the first time it became clear that the samples were not blinded. That is not the case, and I apologize for any confusion. In fact, The Cancer Letter reported as early as October 2009 that the validation set was not blinded.


That doesn’t make Dr. Nevins argument any more defensible.

About the Author

Rabiya S. Tuma, PhD
RABIYA S. TUMA, PHD, a Contributing Writer for Oncology Times, is an award winning journalist and a regular contributor to The Economist, and the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including CR Magazine, Yoga + Joyful Living, O The Oprah Magazine, HHMI Bulletin, and the New York Times. Prior to launching her writing career, Rabiya earned her doctorate at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and worked at a biotechnology firm in Eugene, Oregon. And though she traded a lab bench for a computer, she remains fascinated with the work that takes basic science into the clinic.

Her OT blog was recognized this year by the American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors (ASHPE) with a bronze award in the category of Best Blog.