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UK alleges misconduct by professors, staff member

Posted at 9:26 AM, Aug 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-23 18:22:20-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Two University of Kentucky professors and a staff research scientist are accused of falsifying research results.

According to officials, the school will seek a retraction of the publications in question and, absent their agreement to resign, begin a University process to terminate the employment of professors Xianglin Shi and Zhuo Zhang in the Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology in the College of Medicine, said UK Provost David Blackwell.

The University has already terminated the employment of Donghern Kim, a staff research scientist who worked in Zhang's lab.

The faculty labs were shut down and their access to UK equipment has been discontinued. The three individuals are also not allowed to have contact with staff or come to campus.

The measures being taken are the result of a more than yearlong internal investigation by a team of scientists at UK with expertise in the methods of the research being reviewed. The investigation committee produced a more than 1,000-page report that demonstrated several examples of falsified or fabricated data that were among numerous irregularities in seven grant proposals and at least 13 scholarly papers sampled from their work.

UK was alerted to the potential of misconduct from a source outside the University. Cassis immediately initiated an inquiry committee that determined there were sufficient concerns for the process to continue to a full investigation.

The investigation and findings were turned over Thursday to the federal Office of Research Integrity, which will determine next steps, such as whether further review is warranted or regarding the status of grants on which Shi and Zhang were principal investigators. Additional notifications to federal funding agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, will also occur.