Release Date:  May 30, 2002

NOTICE:  NOT-OD-02-051

Department of Health and Human Services

Notice is hereby given that the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) and 
the Assistant Secretary for Health have taken final action in the 
following case:

Robert B. Tracy, Ph.D., University of Southern California and 
University of California, Davis:  Based on Dr. Tracy's admission, the 
reports submitted by the University of Southern California (USC) and 
the University of California, Davis (UCD), and additional analysis 
conducted by ORI in its oversight review, the U.S. Public Health 
Service (PHS) found that Robert B. Tracy, Ph.D., former doctoral 
student at UCD, and former postdoctoral student at USC, engaged in 
scientific misconduct by falsifying and fabricating data in research 
supported by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases 
(NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH), grant R01 AI18987, 
"Mechanistic studies of genetic recombination," and National Institute 
of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), NIH, grant 1 R01 GM56984, 
"Mechanism of DNA recombination at class switch sequences."

Dr. Tracy's doctoral research at UCD involved the analysis of the 
mechanisms used by various enzymes to repair damaged DNA, while his 
postdoctoral research at USC dealt with the molecular mechanism used by 
B-lymphocytes when switching from producing one class of immunoglobulin 
to another.

Specifically, PHS found that:

(1)  In 1996 and 1997, Dr. Tracy falsified research supported by NIH 
grant R01 AI18987, "Mechanistic studies of genetic recombination," 
while working on his doctoral dissertation at UCD.  Dr. Tracy falsified 
Figure 6.2 of his Ph.D. thesis by adding discrete bands where there 
actually had only been a uniform smear of radioactivity, the effect 
being to suggest a result that had not been observed and was, 
therefore, falsified.  The falsified image was not published.

(2)  From 1998 to 2000, Dr. Tracy committed additional scientific 
misconduct while a postdoctoral fellow at USC in research funded by NIH 
grant R01 GM56984 "Mechanism of DNA recombination at class switch 
sequences."  Dr. Tracy falsified values in Table 1 of supplemental web 
material (;
article may also be accessed by Science subscribers at that 
accompanied a report published in Science (Tracy, R.B., Hsieh, C.-L., & 
Lieber, M.B., "Stable RNA/DNA hybrids in the mammalian genome: 
Inducible intermediates in immunoglobulin class switch recombination." 
Science 288:1058-1061, 2000; the "Science paper").  In Table 1, Dr. 
Tracy misrepresented that lymphocytes from mice transgenic for 
ribonuclease H underwent significantly lower rates of isotope 
switching, as determined by the level of surface staining for 
immunoglobulin classes compared to control mice, when the actual data 
showed no such difference for IgG1, IgG2b, and IgE isotope classes.  Dr. 
Tracy also falsified Figures 2 and 4 of the supplemental web material 
published with the Science paper in that the results were not 
representative of multiple independent experiments as he claimed.  In 
addition, Dr. Tracy falsified Figure 2C of the Science paper, which 
represented a crucial control to establish his claim that RNA/DNA 
hybrids were limited to immunoglobulin switch regions, by publishing a 
blot that was not representative of his overall results.

Dr. Tracy also falsified Figures 4 and 7 of a second paper (Tracy, 
R.B., & Lieber, M.R.  "Transcription-dependent R-loop formation at 
mammalian class switch sequences."  EMBO J. 19:1055-1067, 2000, "EMBO 
J. paper").  In both figures, Dr. Tracy used the PhotoShop computer 
program to move bands or regions of a lane vertically relative to the 
rest of the gel, thus falsifying the size of molecules described in the 
paper.  Lastly, Dr. Tracy reported these falsified data (as published 
in the Science and EMBO J. papers) in the progress report for NIH grant 
5 R01 56984-03 in May 2000.  Dr. Tracy and his coauthors retracted both 
the Science paper and the EMBO J. paper, in Science 289:1141, 2000, and 
in EMBO J. 19:4855, 2000, respectively.

Dr. Tracy has entered into a Voluntary Exclusion Agreement in which he 
has voluntarily agreed for a period of four (4) years beginning on May 
1, 2002:

(1)  to exclude himself from any contracting or subcontracting with any 
agency of the United States Government and from eligibility for, or 
involvement in, nonprocurement transactions (e.g., grants and 
cooperative agreements) of the United States Government as defined in 
45 C.F.R. Part 76 (Debarment Regulations); and

(2)  to exclude himself from serving in any advisory capacity to PHS, 
including but not limited to service on any PHS advisory committee, 
board, and/or peer review committee, or as a consultant.


For further information contact:

Division of Investigative Oversight
Office of Research Integrity
5515 Security Lane, Suite 700
Rockville, MD  20852
Telephone:  301-443-5330

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