Indiana University paper about lung transplantation retracted after misconduct finding

After a finding of data manipulation, the corresponding author of a 2014 paper by a team of researchers at Indiana University has retracted the work.

Here’s the notice in Science Translational Medicine:

Science Translational Medicine is retracting the Research Article “The HMGB1-RAGE axis mediates traumatic brain injury-induced pulmonary dysfunction in lung transplantation” by Weber et al., following concerns raised by the corresponding author of the study about potential data manipulation. The Indiana University School of Medicine conducted an internal investigation, the result of which established that data had been manipulated in Figures 1, 2, and 3. Given the integrity of the manuscript is compromised, the corresponding author requested the Research Article be retracted.

The paper has been cited 26 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

In a statement to Retraction Watch, Indiana University said that it “conducted a comprehensive and thorough investigation” after “learning of questions regarding the integrity of data” cited in the paper:

As a result of the investigation committee’s findings, the university requested that the publication be retracted.

The misconduct involved laboratory research, and at no time were patients or research participants in danger. The laboratory involved has since closed.

The scientist in question completed training in 2017, prior to the investigation being completed, and is no longer affiliated with Indiana University or its partner hospital systems. Indiana University has notified the scientist’s current academic institution of the investigation’s findings.

Neither the retraction notice nor Indiana’s statement specifies who was responsible for the misconduct. The lead author of the paper, Daniel J. Weber, finished his training at Indiana in 2017 and is now a cardiothoracic surgery fellow at the University of California, San Francisco. He did not respond to requests for comment.

The corresponding author, one of the paper’s two senior authors, David Wilkes, became dean of the University of Virginia School of Medicine in 2015

A spokesperson for the University of Virginia tells Retraction Watch:

UVA is aware of the retraction. Dean Wilkes raised the initial concerns about data manipulation and requested the investigation by Indiana University. He then requested the paper be retracted after receiving the results of the investigation. Based on that information, UVA does not plan to take any action.

In the statement, Fred Cate, Indiana University’s vice president for research, said:

Indiana University takes any allegation regarding research misconduct extraordinarily seriously. While even a single instance of misconduct is unacceptable, the system worked as intended, and the scientific record is being corrected. We know the public places a great deal of trust in IU, and we will continue to be vigilant to ensure research conducted at Indiana University is done so in accordance with all relevant state and federal laws, university policy, and the highest professional standards.

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