Five papers by prominent cardiologist Hiroaki Matsubara subject to Expression of Concern

Hiroaki Matsubara

The American Heart Association, which publishes a number of journals, has issued an Expression of Concern about five papers in three of their publications, following allegations of image manipulation. All of the papers include Hiroaki Matsubara, of Kyoto Prefectural University, as a co-author.

The notice begins:

It has come to the attention of the American Heart Association (AHA), in a public manner, that there are questions concerning a number of figures in several AHA journals’ articles…

The “public manner” was three posts last year on the Abnormal Science blog, available here, here and here, alleging that images were manipulated in the manuscripts, and that histology slides were reused.

The notice continues:

After reviewing these concerns, we have asked the institution, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, to investigate the allegations. Until we learn the outcome, we feel it is best to post this Expression of Concern to alert our readers that concerns about these articles have been raised.

The five papers under scrutiny:

Matsubara is a big name in cardiology, having been part of the KYOTO HEART study and other clinical trials. Twenty one of his papers have been cited at least 100 times, with one cited more than 800.

Much of the work in question appears to have been performed when Matsubara was at Kansai Medical University in Osaka, Japan. He left there in 2003 for his post in Kyoto.

We’ve contacted Matsurbara for comment, as well as Martha Cathcart, chair of the AHA’s publishing committee, who signed the Expression of Concern, and will update with anything we learn.

Update, 11:15 a.m. Eastern, 3/13/12: As Larry Husten reports at Cardiobrief, Matsubara’s team has already retracted at least one paper, in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry:

Due to a mistake of duplicating the publication of original data which already appeared in Circulation Research (84: 1073–1084, 1999), the following paper published in Molecular Cellular Biochemistry has been retracted with an apology…

The original Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry paper was published in 2001, and retracted in 2003.

Update, 11:45 a.m. Eastern, 3/31/12: Kyoto Prefectural University tells us:

We have already set up an investigation committee, and currently investigation is underway.

Hat tip: Marilyn Mann

5 thoughts on “Five papers by prominent cardiologist Hiroaki Matsubara subject to Expression of Concern”

  1. Damn you, Photoshop! Do not lead us into temptation… I must say I didn’t see all the post in abnormal science together before, but looks like Matsubara-san can easily rival Andy Warhol in productivity and style…

  2. Isn’t he the same person who was running those blogs on image manipulations and scientific misconduct? User profile of 11jigen takes you to the page with a link to My web page and the papers mentioned above are listed there (Hypertension in 2001; Circulation Research in 2001) with his name as the corresponding author!

      1. I too used this site and on the left under the link to his email is the link to ‘my web page’. Since I cannot follow Japanese but could only read the titles of the papers listed so I had this question. May be you are right and this was his way of drawing attention to this lab.
        It just seemed so odd that someone who is aware of methods of manipulation would himself use the same. That’s all. I can see that this has been going on for long and the original blogs have been shut down.

  3. Exactly, the posts started popping up in a Japanese blog that was misteriously closed after a while, however the excellent blog Abnormal Science took on the theme.

    And they have scored grand on Matsubara. Man, what a mess this man did, and also obviously played with the wrong person…

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