Researchers Faked Data on Epigenetics of Bipolar Disorder

Rob Wipond

The British Journal of Psychiatry has issued a retraction of an article purporting to have identified evidence of the epigenetic aspects of bipolar disorder, reports Retraction Watch. The article was written by a team of researchers primarily in the medical and psychiatry departments at the University of Geneva, and included data that was falsified by Alain Malafosse, head of the university’s Psychiatry Genetics Unit.

The paper “Childhood maltreatment and methylation of the glucocorticoid receptor gene NR3C1 in bipolar disorder” was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry in June 2013, reports Retraction Watch, and “purported to find that people with bipolar disorder who had experienced more, and more severe, abuse early in life were more likely to show epigenetic changes.”

Retraction Watch quotes the BJP: “An investigation carried out at the request of the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Geneva has concluded that one of the authors (Alain Malafosse) fabricated methylation data. A reanalysis of the DNA reveals no significant correlation between childhood trauma and methylation of the NR3C1 gene. The original conclusions therefore no longer hold true and we wish to retract the paper.”

Retraction Watch also reports that Malafosse is under investigation for financial fraud.

Retraction appears for psychiatrist sought for arrest in alleged fraud scheme (Retraction Watch, September 4, 2014)

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Rob Wipond
Rob Wipond is a Victoria, British Columbia-based freelance journalist who has been writing on mental health issues for fifteen years. His research has particularly focused on the interfaces between psychiatry, the justice system, and civil rights. His articles have been nominated for three Canadian National Magazine Awards, six Western Magazine Awards, and four Jack Webster Awards for journalism. He can be contacted through his website.


  1. Maybe he was just being economical with the truth. I firmly believe that these diagnoses are fraudulent most of the time anyway; and that problems are normal problems of life.
    I told this to the doctor when I was in the Maudsley hospital in 1980 – but he disagreed.
    Ultimately I did make complete recovery with suitable non medical help, and when I looked up the doctor some years later – I found that he had committed suicide.