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Olfactive Nobel Research Under Fire

Posted: March 10, 2008

The authors of a 2001 paper in the journal Nature, including 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine Linda Buck, have announced that their findings could not be reproduced. The original work reported a technique for mapping which nasal smell receptors connected to which brain cortex neurons. While the study results are now in doubt, most experts agree the retraction does not meaningfully affect the legitimacy of Buck's Nobel. A misconduct review is underway at Harvard Medical School, where the research was conducted. Lead author and source of the paper's figures and data, Zhihua Zou, is reviewing the study's original files. Below is the official retraction published by Nature:

This Article described patterns of labeling observed in olfactory cortex when a transneuronal tracer was co-expressed with single odorant receptor genes in the mouse olfactory epithelium. During efforts to replicate and extend this work, we have been unable to reproduce the reported findings. Moreover, we have found inconsistencies between some of the figures and data published in the paper and the original data. We have therefore lost confidence in the reported conclusions. We regret any adverse consequences that may have resulted from the paper's publication.