Natalie DeWitt Must-Read Comment on Cell Cloning Paper Mishap

Occasionally I call out a particularly important comment by a reader on a major issue.

Today it is commenter Natalie DeWitt (see my earlier interview with her about her experiences at Nature’s The Niche) who has contributed a particularly insightful, knowledgable comment on my recent perspective piece the Cell cloning paper mishap.

Many in the stem cell field and beyond have been unsure how to take the news of the problems with the Mitalipov cloning paper in Cell.

Are these issues a big deal or not so much?

DeWitt provides some much needed historical context and wisdom for thinking about the Cell cloning paper mess:

“I am writing now as an individual– not affiliated through an affilitation with any organization.
When I worked at Nature, we had to verify that Snuppy was indeed a cloned animal, after the fact, and after publication. This was done by very straightforward (if you save oocyte donor and nuclear donor tissue samples) genetic analysis. In an editorial I later wrote on this topic, I and my Nature editorial colleagues recommended that for critical cloning papers, since it’s so easy to verify, they should submit verification from a separate lab when they submit the paper. You can read the editorial here. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v439/n7074/full/439243a.htmlThis was recommended by thought leaders in the field, and through our own experience in verifying Nature cloning papers, namely dog and monkey cloning. Now it will be done on these Mitaliipov cell lines, for sure, but in the meantime, once again, there is unnecessary turmoil. Questions about bad science, bad editorial practices. A world class lab that has now contributed to another page in what is becoming a “what not to do” primer.Would have been better to submit the cells for independent analysis and submit along with the paper.With regard to short period of time of review– there is competition amongst journals for high profile papers and sometimes promises of very rapid turn around are made. I don’t know if that happened in this case, but as much as scientists complain about excessively lengthy peer review, I suspect in the end they would prefer that to the current situation. Which frankly, does not reflect well on any of us in the scientific community.”

3 thoughts on “Natalie DeWitt Must-Read Comment on Cell Cloning Paper Mishap


  1. Very cogent comments. Thank you. Though, I believe, this controversy will be a topic for some time. Eyebrows raised on a pub is one thing…add the keywords “stem cells” and “cloning” and it becomes a lightening rod.

  2. Pingback: On reproducibility of scientific findings | Stem Cell Assays


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    Since 2012 Dec. it is “multiple system atrophy” (MSA) , which is without any treatment, and much worse and fatal !!!

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    Not in Innsbruck (yet).

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