On Tuesday, we reported that Emory University in Atlanta was looking into why a team of former researchers — now at the University of Louisville — had retracted three papers in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC).
Today, we learned that the researchers’ home institution since 2009 is now investigating the work. A spokesperson tells Retraction Watch:
The retracted articles you referenced are part of an ongoing investigation at the University of Louisville.
When we pressed for more details:
This is an ongoing investigation and it would be inappropriate for me to say anything further.
We’ll of course keep an eye on this developing story. The three authors common to the three retracted JBC papers — Shou Wei Han, Jeffrey Ritzenthaler and University of Louisville medicine department chair Jesse Roman — have published 14 papers together, according to Medline. It’s conceivable that more than just the three JBC papers are under review.
Update, 7:45 p.m. Eastern, 7/14/11: We’ve learned, from a commenter below, that there has been at least one more retraction by the group, for “The fibronectin EDA splicing variant induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition in lung cancer cells through integrin α9β1-mediated activation of PI3-K and Erk,” published online May 2010 in American Journal of Physiology: Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology. According to the notice, which is quite detailed:
The authors retract this article for the following reasons: The western blot presented in Figure 4A includes duplicate bands not generated in the same gel for α-SMA related to control and cFN stimulation; these bands were spliced and overlaid onto the gel. The microscopic image designated PD98059 in Figure 4B was digitally manipulated and included in supplementary Figure 3 as a control. The Akt blot shown in Figure 4D was also used in the E-cadherin blot shown in supplementary Figure 2. The western blot presented in Figure 6C contains bands for α9 integrin, α-SMA, and E-cadherin generated in another experiment, spliced and overlaid onto this figure.
While all authors assumed responsibility for the accuracy of all data upon manuscript submission, XJ Sun and SW Han have subsequently assumed responsibility for these errors. All authors agree to the retraction of this article and apologize to the Editorial Board and readership of AJP – Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology.
So it was data manipulation. Han, the commenter also said, resigned his University of Louisville post as an associate professor of medicine in September.