Prominent Japanese Cardiologist Accused of Scientific Misconduct

Following accusations by independent bloggers in Japan and Germany, the American Heart Association (AHA) has issued an Expression of Concern about five papers published in AHA journals co-authored by Hiroaki Matsubara, a prominent cardiologist and researcher at Kyoto Prefectural University in Japan. In addition to his many papers exploring the basic science of the renin-angiotensin system, Matsubara was the chief investigator of the KYOTO HEART Study, a randomized, open-labeled study studying the add-on effect of valsartan to conventional therapy in high-risk hypertension.

Questions about Matsubara’s work were initially raised last year on a Japanese blog and then pursued in three English language posts (herehere and here) on a German site, the Abnormal Science Blog. Abnormal Science reported evidence of serious scientific misconduct in 12 papers in which Matsubara was the only common co-author. The AHA posted its Expression of Concern on Monday, which was subsequently reported by Retraction Watch.

The three posts on Abnormal Science demonstrate repeated examples of  image manipulation and copying, as well as self-plagiarism. The non-AHA journals cited by Abnormal Science include Kidney InternationalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, and Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology. At least one paper, in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, has been  retracted “due to a mistake of duplicating the publication of original data” that already had appeared in Circulation Research. Here is how Abnormal Science summarized its initial findings in several of the papers:

It is apparent that band images from ‘real’ blots may have been digitally reassembled into new blot images pretending to be derived from distinct experimental settings. Since ‘reconfigured blots’ have been densimetrically scanned and the results illustrated in tables and figures, we are presumably confronted with a case of severe data fabrication.

These are the five papers cited by the AHA, including the number of citations as reported by Retraction Watch:


  1. […] 11:15 a.m. Eastern, 3/13/12: As Larry Husten reports at Cardiobrief, Matsubara’s team has already retracted at least one paper, in Molecular and Cellular […]

  2. […] American Heart Association (AHA) issued an Expression of Concern about five papers published in AHA journals co-authored by  a prominent Japanese cardiologist […]

  3. […] Prominent Japanese Cardiologist Accused of Scientific Misconduct […]

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