The Alirio Melendez case is likely to become quite complicated, as the National University of Singapore (NUS) looks into about 70 papers by the researcher whose work has already been the subject of a retraction and Expression of Concern. One such wrinkle seemed to have already surfaced when a blog called the Gigamole Diaries pointed out last week that an NUS dean apparently connected to the investigation had co-authored two papers with Melendez:
…the authorship list for Melendez papers reads almost like a Who’s Who in the medical school, and includes heads of departments, Vice Deans and prominent individuals in the office of the NUS Vice President. Interestingly Prof Barry Halliwell, who is NUS Deputy President (Research and Technology), and who has been cited as fronting the investigation into the Melendez publications is himself associated with at least 2 Melendez publications.
We checked with Halliwell, who has indeed spoken to numerous media outlets about the investigation. He tells us:
NUS always takes conflict of interest issues very seriously. The panel conducting this enquiry is completely independent and I am not involved. They are aware of these papers, which were identified at the start of the enquiry.
So while we can see the source of confusion, none of the media reports has cited Halliwell “as fronting the investigation,” and the fact that he’s not involved seems appropriate, given his conflict of interest. We thank Halliwell for his quick and thorough response, and we’ll continue to follow this case.