Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Case of Junghee J. Shin, Ph.D.

From the Office of Research Integrity, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, website, the full case study is here.   Students need be aware of several key facts.
  1. Dr. Shin is a researcher today.  He continues his work. 
  2. He committed the infractions when he was a graduate student in 2004.
  3. The fraud was discovered and he published a retraction in 2008.
  4. Then, in 2010, the ORI followed up on the separate crime of fraud with federal funding based on the harms committed in 2004.
 Where were you seven years ago?  If you are in the 8th grade now, then you were in the first grade then.  Suppose you cheated on a spelling test.  That fact was not revealed until the tests were regraded three years later.   You then write a letter of apology to your 1st grade teacher and the principal.  Then, four years after that, your current school announces that because you cheated on a spelling test in the 1st grade, you will report to the office every day to tell them that you are not cheating now.  In research this is called a "remediation plan."

That may all seem unfair. But that is how science works; and it is how federal funding of research works.  Actions have consequences.  If you commit research fraud, that fact will never be erased, expunged or forgotten.  It will come back to haunt you repeatedly.

Moreoover, every such case is always reported in The Federal Register.  It becomes part of the documentary history of the United States. (The abbreviation GPO stands for Government Printing Office.)
[Federal Register: August 25, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 164)]
[Page 52346]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []

Furthermore, consider the impact not only on Dr. Shin, but on his colleagues.  He committed two separate acts of "fudging" his data and his reports.  His work was part of a group effort. Therefore, his retraction also invalidated their work.  Even if their results were beyond reproach, the paper and the manuscript were withdrawn, thus negating the valid work of his colleagues. 

Junghee J. Shin, PhD, New York Medical College: Based on the report of an investigation conducted by New York Medical College (NYMC) and additional analysis by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) in its oversight review, the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) found that Junghee J. Shin, PhD, former graduate student, NYMC, engaged in research misconduct in research supported by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH), grants R01 AI048856 and R01 AI043063.
PHS found that the Respondent engaged in research misconduct by falsifying data in Figure 4 of a manuscript submitted to the journal Infection and Immunity (Shin, J.J., Godfrey, H.P., & Cabello, F.C. "Expression and localization of BmpC in Borrelia burgdorferi after growth under various environmental conditions." Submitted to Infection and Immunity; hereafter referred to as the "manuscript") and Figure 5 of a paper published in Infection and Immunity (Shin, J.J. Bryksin, A.V., Godfrey, H.P., & Cabello, F.C. "Localization of BmpA on the exposed outer membrane of Borrelia burgdorferi by monospecific anti- recombinant BmpA rabbit antibodies." Infection and Immunity 72(4):2280-2287, April 2004, hereafter referred to as the "paper." Retracted in: Infection and Immunity 76(10):4792, October 2008).

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