The articles appeared in the American Journal of Transplantation in January and February of 2006, and came from the lab of S. T. Fan, of the University of Hong Kong. When the authors were asked about the images, they “were unable to satisfactorily mitigate the concerns.”
According to this bio from the journal Hepatobiliary Surgery and Nutrition, Fan:
innovated the adult-to-adult living-related liver transplantation using a right lobe graft, which is now adopted throughout the world. He won China’s Top National Honors for Scientific Achievements in 2005.
The first paper was titled “‘Rapamycin Attenuates Liver Graft Injury in Cirrhotic Recipient—The Significance of Down-Regulation of Rho-ROCK-VEGF Pathway.” It’s been cited 12 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. Per the retraction notice:
The above article, published online on January 20, 2006, in Wiley Online Library (http://www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com), and in volume 6, pp. 697–704, has been retracted by agreement between the authors, the journal’s Editor-in-Chief, Allan D. Kirk, and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. The retraction has been agreed upon due to concerns relating to the origin of images depicted in Figure 3. The authors, upon presentation with the figure in question, were unable to satisfactorily mitigate the concerns.
Figure 3 looks like this:
The second notice, for “Fat-Derived Hormone Adiponectin Combined with FTY720 Significantly Improves Small-for-Size Fatty Liver Graft Survival,” (cited 24 times), is more of the same:
The above article, published online on February 10, 2006, in Wiley Online Library (http://www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com), and in volume 6, pp. 467–476, has been retracted by agreement between the authors, the journal’s Editor-in-Chief, Allan D. Kirk, and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. The retraction has been agreed upon due to concerns relating to the origin of images depicted in Figures 4 and 5. The authors, upon presentation with the figures in question, were unable to satisfactorily mitigate the concerns.
Here are those images:
We’ve reached out to
Fan the first author on both studies, K. Man, but gotten no response so far. Allan Kirk, editor of the journal, said his office was contacted by a “grass roots” organization about the discrepancies.
We followed the guidelines of the ICMJE (http://www.icmje.org) and contacted the corresponding author. They replied and through some collegial dialogue were not able to produce the data needed to rectify the concerns.
Kirk’s colleague, Jill White, told us that the tipster was affiliated with a group in Beijing calling itself Mr. Science.
He indicated that they received a letter from a professor who raised concerns of academic misconduct by several researchers at the University of Hong Kong. They were investigating other papers from K Man, the corresponding author of the AJT articles, but we have no direct knowledge of those papers or their issues.
So, what about Mr. Science? According to the group:
Mr Science is a digital science medium in China, founded in the July of 2014 by three reputable Chinese scientists: Professor Yi Rao from Peking University, Professor Bai Lu from Tsinghua University and Professor Yu Xie from University of Michigan. Mr. Science is devoted to promoting science knowledge and scientific research methods to China, and bringing the real core of science spirit to China. In the past 10 months, Mr. Science has attracted more than 200,000 WeChat subscribers, among whom many are top scientists and researchers.
Update 10/28/15 7:30 p.m. eastern: When we were looking into this retraction, we contacted the first author on both papers, K. Man — not, as we first reported, the last author, Fan. We apologize for the mix-up, and we’ve fixed the text in the story.
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