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Former Case Western Postdoc Admits Misconduct

Sarah C.P. Williams

The researcher admitted to falsifying data in a paper nominated by Molecular Biology of the Cell for its 2009 "Paper of the Year" award. Which paper? Find out...

A former Case Western Reserve University researcher has admitted to multiple instances of data falsification, including a paper published in Molecular Biology of the Cell that was nominated for the journal’s 2009 “Paper of the Year” award, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Research Integrity (ORI). As a result, the researcher has agreed to retract the paper and be supervised on federally funded projects for the next three years.

Bryan Dorein, who won a Doctoral Excellence Award from Case Western Reserve University in 2010 has admitted to research misconduct. Source:

Bryan Doreian, the paper’s first author and a former graduate student and postdoctoral researcher in the Case Western’s Department of Dermatology, engaged in research misconduct while supported by multiple federal grants, according to the ORI’s findings. The specific cases of falsified data identified by the ORI include Doreian’s Ph.D. dissertation from 2009, the Molecular Biology of the Cell paper (1), and an unpublished manuscript submitted to Nature Medicine. According to the ORI report, Doreian admitted to the charges and will request the retraction of the Molecular Biology of the Cell paper, which has been cited 19 times according to Google Scholar.

The Molecular Biology of the Cell paper reported on the exocytosis of neuropeptides by the adrenal gland’s chromaffin cells. At the time it was published, the paper was considered an advance in the field, said David Richards, an assistant professor at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital who cited the paper in his own work (2). Since then, additional work has been done in the area. “I suspect if there were unsound findings, they would have become isolated over time,” said Richards. “Consequently, I do not think this is an example of something that, even if undetected, would have greatly distorted the field.”

In 2009, Doreian received his Ph.D. from Case Western under the advisorship of biologist Corey Smith, who is also an author on the Molecular Biology of the Cell paper as well as the advisor named on Doreian’s dissertation. For his work in the Smith lab, Doreian won a grand prize at a Case Western Research Showcase and a Doctoral Excellence Award from the university. From 2009 until December 2011, Doreian was a post-doctoral fellow in the Kurt Lu’s dermatology lab at Case Western. Lu was also an author of the unpublished Nature Medicine manuscript that contained manipulated data.

The ORI report on Doreian’s misconduct details multiple examples of data falsification, including the falsification of the number of sample trials for experiments to improve the statistical results as well as altering experimental values themselves. Types of experiments that contained falsified data included immunofluorescence, RT-PCR, patch clamp analysis, and ELISA.

The case, Richards said, “is obviously a lesson to everyone to keep digging when little things don't add up.”

The voluntary settlement that Dorian agreed to, according to the ORI report, states that Dorian must request the retraction of the Molecular Biology of the Cell paper and must be supervised on any federally funded research for the three years beginning January 15, 2013. According to his website and LinkedIn profile, Doreian is now the president of Wysebridge Patent Bar Review, a company that he founded while studying for the Patent Bar Exam in 2012.

Doreian, Corey Smith, and Case Western Reserve University did not respond to requests for comment.


  1. Doreian, B. W., T. G. Fulop, R. L. Meklemburg, and C. B. Smith. 2009. Cortical F-Actin, the exocytic mode, and neuropeptide release in mouse chromaffin cells is regulated by myristoylated alanine-rich C-Kinase substrate and myosin II. Molecular Biology of the Cell 20(13):3142-3154.
  2. Wang, J., and D. A. Richards. 2011. Spatial regulation of exocytic site and vesicle mobilization by the actin cytoskeleton. PLoS ONE 6(12):e29162+.

Keywords:  research misconduct