Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Two more retractions in respiratory journal as University of Louisville completes investigation

with 2 comments

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.

Comments
  • genetics March 5, 2012 at 8:26 am

    OK, so here Han was first and corresponding author (also in the case of the three JBC paper), making it easier to put all the blame on him.

    Nevertheless, was he the head of lab? I keep wondering what the lab heads/PIs are doing. If anyone should ever look at primary data and not just neat little manuscript figures, it’s the PI.

    And more primary data should be required on submission. It would help prevent the western blot fraud….

  • piefish March 13, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Well, at least one more from paper this journal should also be examined (Roman, J et al, Am J Resp. Cell Mol Biol, 43:684-691, 2010). Check Fig. 1B (alpha2 blot) in this paper (Roman, J et al, Am J Resp. Cell Mol Biol, 43:684-691, 2010) where it appears to use the same data from a western blot from Fig. 1E (AMPK) from the now retracted article (Han, S et al, Am J Resp. Cell Mol Bio, 40: 325-331, 2009). And Check Fig. 1B (beta1 blot) from Roman, J et al, Am J Resp. Cell Mol Biol, 43:684-691, 2010, where it also appears to use the same data from a western blot from Fig. 3B (p70S6K) from Han, S et al, PPAR Research, 29632, 2007. Where I come from, this just ain’t right. Watch for many more from this group, there are many others just like this.

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