Montreal Heart Institute researcher dismissed following two retractions for image manipulation

A Montreal Heart Institute researcher who retracted two papers less than a month ago has been fired from his post.

Zhiguo Wang, who had been funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research and the Canadian Diabetes Association, studied the genes linked to heart rhythm abnormalities, among other subjects. Wang also has an appointment at the University of Montreal.

As first reported in Retraction Watch, Wang withdrew two papers for the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) in the journal’s August 12 issue. The story was quickly picked up by Postmedia and the CBC. At the time, Wang told us:

We noticed some mistakes in the Western blot band images shown in these papers. These mistakes do not invalidate our results and conclusions, and we and others have been able to reproduce the data reported in these papers.

That was consistent with what the director of the Montreal Heart Institute said at a press conference yesterday announcing Wang’s dismissal, the Canadian Press agency reports:

Dr. Tardif said the primary results and conclusions in the studies are still valid, despite the alleged abnormalities in Mr. Wang’s research. He added that most of the findings in the research have been duplicated in the works of other scientists.

As we noted in our original post,

the 2007 article has been cited 126 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge, while the 2008 study has been cited 76.

The institute moved quickly: According to a press release, a committee began its investigation in late June after Wang let administrators know he would be retracting the two papers. From the release:

Following a rigorous process, the expert committee concluded that Mr. Wang was found to have deviated from MHI’s ethical standards of proper scientific conduct and his responsibilities as a researcher. The report and names of the committee members will be kept confidential in order to protect the identity of all those involved and to maintain the confidentiality of the scientific misconduct denunciation process, in accordance with MHI’s policies and general guidelines.

In compliance with the recommendations of the committee and senior management of the Research Centre, the MHI’s Executive Director took the immediate action to proceed with the necessary sanctions; Mr. Wang’s research privileges and status as researcher were removed and his laboratory was closed. The MHI has also requested the retraction of three additional scientific articles. The MHI ensured that all relevant stakeholders were informed in order to guarantee that all necessary measures surrounding this situation were being implemented.

Dr. Tardif also stated that: ” Mr. Zhiguo Wang is not a physician. His activities at the MHI consisted in conducting fundamental research studies at the cellular level. Mr. Wang’s research work did not involve patients and was not associated with any drug testing.”

Tardif also said that the institute had recommended the retraction of three other studies by the group. We’ve inquired about which papers those are. In the meantime, see what Retraction Watch readers had to say about the team’s various papers; some of those comments probably hold clues as to the other  papers to be retracted.

2 thoughts on “Montreal Heart Institute researcher dismissed following two retractions for image manipulation”

  1. Actually what would be of more interest, is whether or not there were any institutional standards or guidelines in place at Montreal Heart Institute at the time… or did MHI feel a need to respond once the retractions became public and chose its response to suit the incident.

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