Journal papers retracted due to research misconduct by former UK scientist

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Public Affairs) The University of Kentucky is notifying five journals of publications that need to be corrected or retracted because they contain data that could not be validated with original data, constituting falsification and fabrication.

“The University of Kentucky is committed to research that addresses Kentucky’s most significant challenges, and we expect that research to be conducted in the most ethical and responsible manner possible,” said Lisa Cassis, UK’s vice president for research.

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“In those instances where people do not adhere to our standards and what we expect, the university will continue to act – without hesitation – to find out what happened, correct it, and take preventive measures to help ensure that it doesn’t re-occur,” Cassis added.

As a result, the University provided the following summary of what happened and the resulting actions:

  • In April 2019, UK was alerted to the potential of research misconduct from a source outside the University. After assessing the allegations, an internal investigation committee was empaneled by the University. That investigation concluded in April 2020.
  • The scientist responsible for the research misconduct in this investigation, Stuart Jarrett, Ph.D., was an assistant professor and a senior research associate in the Markey Cancer Center in the laboratory of Dr. John D’Orazio. Jarrett left the University Sept. 13, 2019, during the investigation.
  • Although he did not collect the data that was investigated, Dr. D’Orazio, a physician-scientist and chief of pediatric hematology and oncology, had oversight of the laboratory and the questioned data were included in papers co-authored by Jarrett, D’Orazio and others. The investigation team cited a lack of oversight by D’Orazio but concluded that the issue did not rise to the level of research misconduct on his part.
  • All co-authors of the publications will be notified of the corrections and retractions and the issues identified in the committee’s report. D’Orazio will step down from his research leadership role in the Markey Cancer Center and his endowed chair in pediatric research. He will continue to serve as chief of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology.
  • D’Orazio and all lab team members (including faculty, staff, students, postdoctoral fellows) will undergo training specific to issues of responsible research conduct.  They will also take additional training this year from the Good Research Practices Resource Center. More information regarding the training can be found on the UK Responsible Conduct of Research website: https://www.research.uky.edu/responsible-conduct-research. Members of the lab will also be required to utilize cloud-based electronic lab notebooks (LabArchives) to record all research activity and store all research data going forward. Over the next year, UK will explore the utility of all labs conducting sponsored research moving toward mandatory use of electronic lab notebooks.

“We are – and must be — committed to research that addresses Kentucky’s most significant challenges – from cancer to heart disease, from opioid use disorder to clean energy from coal,” said UK Provost David W. Blackwell. “That research must be conducted in the most ethical and responsible manner possible. That is our commitment to the University community and the people of this Commonwealth that we serve.”