the mouse incident

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the mouse incident2016-12-12T03:07:59+00:00

the mouse incident

mouse incident image from New Medical Terms

mouse post-Magic Marker


A rather colourful* case of scientific misconduct which occurred at Memorial-Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in NYC in 1974. The incident was linked to an experiment in which tissue immunogenicity was allegedly circumvented. In one of the lamest cases of science fraud, the investigator used a felt-tipped marker and painted on a “successful” engraftment of tissue from a black mouse onto a white one. Needless to say, he got caught. 

Wm T Summerlin, a dermatologist and research fellow, under pressure to produce publishable results, claimed that he could transplant tissue from unrelated animals by culturing the tissue for 4-6 weeks in vitro, a claim which, if it proved true, had major implications.

*It made his chief Robert Good pink with delight and Summerlin’s fellow fellows green with envy. But when it came time to show his results he couldn’t prove his original thesis.  One could understand he had the blues; his yellow streak prevented him from fessing up to failure, and as winter turned to spring, Summerlin used a black permanent (not permanent enough, apparently) marker to paint successful “transplants” on the white mice’s fur. Robert Good his chief, saw red, turned purple and reported it as a black on white case of research fraud. Orange you glad you know?

Synonyms Painted mouse, patchwork mouse, Sloan-Kettering Institute affair, Summerlin affair, the mouse incident, the patchwork mouse

JAMA 1974; 229:1391 

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