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University of Wyoming professor demoted, work retracted for alleged ‘data irregularities’

Professor now appears affiliated with a research institute at a university in Shanghai

Thirty-three of Professor Jun Ren’s papers should be retracted due to “concerns regarding data irregularities inconsistent with published conclusions,” according to a spokesperson for the University of Wyoming as told to Retraction Watch, which chronicles retracted scientific papers.

Two papers for which Ren is a co-author cite “data irregularities and image reuse” in their retraction notices for two of Ren’s papers.

So far, according to Retraction Watch, four of the 33 publications have been retracted, one that has been cited over 100 times and the other 25 times. Two papers published by American Heart Association journals were also retracted on July 26. On July 26, 2022, another two papers were published American Heart Association journals were retracted.

“Dr. Jun Ren departed the University of Wyoming in 2020. Between 2015 and 2021, the university investigated allegations of data irregularities made against Dr. Ren,” University of Wyoming spokesman Chad Baldwin told The College Fix. “Following its review, the university requested retractions of 33 publications co-authored by Dr. Ren, most of which are in editorial review by publishers.”

Ren (pictured) specializes in cardiology and diabetes. In 2021, he made Clarivate Analytics’ list of Highly Cited Researchers, although he left the university during the 2019-20 academic year, according to the University of Wyoming website. The article did not specify why he left.

According to Google Scholar, there have been 44,738 citations of his work as of August 10.

While at the university, he served as the Wyoming Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence program director and associate dean of pharmacology. From 2002 through 2014, Ren’s NIH grants for the research program added up to over $22 million, according to the NIH website.

The recent investigation of Professor Ren is not the first that has taken place. Between 2013-2015, he was under investigation for “reckless mistakes” and “no intention to obtain specific results,” according to a letter Ren wrote to the American Heart Association in response to the more recent investigation.

As a result, he was demoted from his position as director of the Institutional Development Award Programs Network of Biomedical Research Excellence, according to Retraction Watch. Ren stated that his demotion cost him “administrative, editorial, grant review and advisor positions.” Ren says he took full responsibility for the errors.

Ren called the retraction investigation ‘not legitimate’

However, Ren has objected to the retractions.

In a letter posted to Retraction Watch by Eldrin Lewis, head of scientific publications at the American Heart Association, Ren argued that the investigation “is not legitimate since it is only based on publication figures with some vague terms (image manipulation).” He also says that some of the issues could be due to a “difference in opinion.”

The Fix reached out to Ren via email to ask his perspective on the investigation and retraction, especially about the “difference of opinion” he cited as a possible source of the issues. He has not responded.

The Fix also contacted the AHA July 29 and the HHS Office of Research Integrity on August 1 asking about the investigation documents. It has not received a response.

Furthermore, Ren points out that the university was also investigating a possible “conflict of interest” with China at the same time, during which Ren’s lab was closed down.

Ren now appears to be linked with the Shanghai Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases at Zhongshan Hospital of Fudan University, according to Retraction Watch.

IMAGE: Chinese American Academy of Cardiology

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Sylvie Patterson is a student at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, pursuing a degree in International Economics. She is a writer for Evie Magazine, and involved in The Tower, the conservative newspaper at Trinity. She is also an intern at a local newspaper in her hometown of Madison, Wisconsin.