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Dr. Carlo Croce is among the most prolific scientists in an emerging area of cancer research involving what is sometimes called the “dark matter” of the human genome. A department chairman at Ohio State University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Croce has parlayed his decades-long pursuit of cancer remedies into a research empire: He has received more than $86 million in federal grants as a principal investigator and, by his own count, more than 60 awards.

With that flamboyant success has come a quotient of controversy. Some scientists argue that Dr. Croce has overstated his expansive claims for the therapeutic promise of his work, and that his laboratory is focused more on churning out papers than on carefully assessing its experimental data.

But a far less public scientific drama has been playing out in the Biomedical Research Tower that houses Dr. Croce’s sprawling laboratory on Ohio State’s campus in Columbus.

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