Philadelphia-area lung researcher up to six retractions

A lung researcher is up to six retractions for problematic images. 

Dilip Shah’s last academic post was at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, N.J., where he worked as a post-doc in the lab of Vineet Bhandari. While there, Shah landed first authorship on a 2020 article in the European Respiratory Journal titled “miR-184 mediates hyperoxia-induced injury by targeting cell death and angiogenesis signalling pathways in the developing lung.”

According to the notice:

The above mentioned article has been retracted by its authors and the editors. Anomalies were discovered in several images. The authors acknowledge that the anomalies compromise the scientific integrity of the paper. All the authors have agreed to the decision to retract this paper; they apologise to the journal and its readers.

As these issues were brought to the editors’ attention before the final version of record for the article was published, this notice of retraction replaces the early view version of the article. The editors thank the authors for their cooperation in the matter.

Bhandari said he was unaware of Shah’s troubled publishing history when he hired the researcher in early 2020. Indeed, Shah’s first retraction, from the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, didn’t arrive until October of that year. 

Since then, Shah, who has also been affiliated with Drexel and Thomas Jefferson, had three more papers retracted from AJRCMB. His most recent retraction was from Scientific Reports, for a 2015 paper subjected to an expression of concern last year. All of the retractions were for issues in images.

Bhandari said Shah was fully responsible for the concerning images in the now-retracted paper:

All the other co-authors felt that – as stated in the retraction notice – given the potential of the above compromising the scientific integrity of the paper, after discussion and in conjunction with the editors of ERJ,  it would be best to retract the entire paper.

He added that: 

As a lab head, I do my best to evaluate new researchers by getting multiple letters of recommendation/additional details about their professional and personal work by talking to that person’s previous colleagues/peers/supervisors/employers/teachers/mentors, prior to hiring them.

As we’ve shown, such reference checks aren’t always useful, when universities discourage their staff and faculty from sharing critical information.

Shah, whose LinkedIn page appears to have been deactivated sometime in the last several days,  could not be reached for comment.

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6 thoughts on “Philadelphia-area lung researcher up to six retractions”

  1. If someone applies to my lab, I never ask for letters of recommendation (which are almost always completely useless) but make an effort to have phone conversations with at least two of the references. During a phone call, it would be extremely straightforward for a reference to let me know (either directly or between the lines) if an applicant has engaged in bad research practices, without being defamatory. If people keep committing research misconduct over and over at multiple institutions, it’s because PIs haven’t done their proper vetting.

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