The publisher of a scientific journal is investigating the accuracy of several papers written by a biology professor from Belgium who was fired by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for allegedly fabricating research data.
Luk Van Parijs wrote three papers for the journal Immunity in 1998 and 1999, before he finished his postdoctoral work at the California Institute of Technology and became an associate professor in MIT's Center for Cancer Research.
"The allegation of fraud is a very serious offense," said Lynne Herndon, president and CEO of Cell Press, which publishes the Cambridge-based journal. "This is something we take very seriously, as do all scientific journals."
MIT says Van Parijs, 35, who was fired Wednesday, has admitted fabricating and falsifying data in a paper, several manuscripts and grant applications. He had been on leave since August 2004, when a group of colleagues reported the allegations to MIT administrators.
A woman who answered the telephone Saturday for a phone number listed for Van Parijs said he was not available for comment.
New Scientist magazine reported Friday it had uncovered "uncanny similarities between supposedly different results" that Van Parijs presented in at least three papers. One of those papers was published by Immunity in 1998, the magazine reported.
MIT said its investigation found no evidence that his co-authors or other members of his research group were involved in the alleged misconduct.
Cal Tech is investigating research that Van Parijs conducted while he was a student there from 1998 to 2000. Van Parijs worked with Cal Tech President David Baltimore, who won a Nobel Prize in 1975 for research on the basic biology of viruses.
Baltimore would not specify his concerns about two papers Van Parijs wrote for Immunity while at Cal Tech, but told The Boston Globe the school has verified much of the research data, reported AP.