Last July, we reported on four retractions by a group of researchers at the University of Louisville, and we noted that the scientists’ work was under investigation. That investigation has apparently concluded, according to a retraction notice in the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology for two of their papers:
Following an investigation by the staff of the American Thoracic Society as well as the University of Louisville, and at the request of the authors, the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology has agreed to retract the following articles due to concerns related to digital manipulations and image duplications that were performed by the first (also corresponding) author without the knowledge of the coauthors, bringing into question the validity of the findings: ShouWei Han, Hilda N. Rivera, and Jesse Roman (2005) “Peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor-γ ligands inhibit α5 integrin gene transcription in non–small cell lung carcinoma cells” (1); and ShouWei Han, Jeffrey D. Ritzenthaler, XiaoJuan Sun, Ying Zheng, and Jesse Roman (2009) “Activation of peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor β/δ induces lung cancer growth via peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor coactivator γ-1α” (2).
The first author has not responded to requests by coauthors. Therefore, the coauthors have requested retraction of these articles and apologize to the readers of the journal.
The 2005 paper has been cited 27 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge, while the 2009 paper has been cited seven times.
These are retractions number five and six for the group, which moved from Emory to Louisville in 2009. Han resigned his University of Louisville post in September of 2010. We’ve contacted the journal and the university for comment, and will update with anything we hear back.
Update, 2:15 p.m. Eastern, 3/2/12: The journal’s editor, Ken Adler, tells us:
There are no other papers in the Red Journal from Dr. Han that are in question or will be retracted based on our knowledge at this point.