News

Pediatrician is censured for faking data in 10 published papers

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e8015 (Published 23 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8015
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

A former professor of pediatrics who held an endowed chair in diabetes research at the University of Kentucky has been censured by the US Office of Research Integrity (ORI) for research misconduct spanning 10 years.1

Eric J Smart, who held joint appointments as professor of pediatrics and of physiology, resigned from the university last May after an investigation. He faked data in 10 published papers, seven grant applications, one submitted manuscript, and three progress reports, ORI said.

Smart, who held a number of research grants from the National Institutes of Health, was found to have reported data for non-existent mutant mice in five grant applications and three progress reports and to have falsified or fabricated images in 45 figures.

In a voluntary settlement he agreed with the ORI not to apply for US government grants or to act in any advisory capacity to the public health service for seven years. The longer than usual exclusion period reflected the seriousness of the findings and the lengthy period over which the misconduct took place.

Smart also promised to request retraction or correction of 10 papers published between 1998 and 2008 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Journal of Physiology, Cell Physiology, the Journal of Lipid Research, and the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Some of his papers have been cited hundreds of times.

Smart held the Barnstable-Brown endowed chair of diabetes and was vice chairman of pediatric research and director of the Kentucky Pediatric Research Institute. His research covered diabetes, cholesterol, heart disease, and hypertension.

According to a 2006 newsletter from the Kentucky Children’s Hospital, Smart had earlier in his career received the American Heart Association’s excellence in research award for his work on the mechanisms behind cardiovascular disease and the association’s Irvine H Page young investigator award, which recognizes people in the formative years of their careers who have the potential to become future leaders in cardiovascular research.

A pseudonymous commentator on the Retraction Watch website, which reported the ORI’s findings against Smart, wrote that he or she was a coauthor on one of the falsified papers, adding, “We thought we were collaborating with the world’s expert.”

Jay Blanton, a spokesman for the University of Kentucky, said in a statement, “Dr Eric Smart is no longer employed by the University of Kentucky. The university conducted a rigorous and comprehensive examination of the research misconduct case under faculty oversight as required by university administrative regulations, which are consistent with federal regulations.

“Recommendations made to the administration were followed to the letter. The process was also reviewed by the offices of the provost, vice-president for research, and general counsel.”

Notes

Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8015

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