Scientific Fraud Found In Wayne Alexander’s Research Group At Emory

Scientific fraud has been discovered in three papers from Wayne Alexander’s research group at Emory. As first reported on Retraction Watch, two papers in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology  and one paper in Circulation Research have been retracted by the journals after being notified by the Emory University Office of Research Compliance following an investigation by the Emory University Investigation Committee.

The retraction statements in the journals are vague but appear to lay blame on Lian Zuo, the first author of two of the papers and the second author of the third. All the authors in the papers list an affiliation with the  Division of Cardiology at Emory University School of Medicine, and R. Wayne Alexander is the senior author of all three papers. Alexander is the chairman of the Department of Medicine of Emory University School of Medicine and Emory University Hospital. He also serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Circulation Research, and Circulation and is a main author of Hurst’s The Heart textbook.

The three papers were originally published in 2004 and 2005. An expression of concern about the two ATVB articles was first published in 2008 but the articles were not formally retracted until this year (here and here). The article in Circulation Research was retracted in 2010, but the retraction does not appear on the article’s page on the journal’s website. All three articles have been cited numerous times.

CardioBrief readers may also be interested to learn that Alexander was a co-founder and a director of AtheroGenics, a company that went bankrupt in 2008 following the failure of its lead compound, AGIX-1067 (succinobucol, a derivative of the antioxidant probucol) in the ARISE trial. The company was a product of intense speculation and criticism as a result of its repeated attempts to polish the results of the AGIX-1067 trials.

CardioBrief has requested a comment from Wayne Alexander.


  1. Sampath Parthasarathy says:

    Hi Husten
    I read your article on Emory but feel that AtheroGenics comments are unwanted. Wayne had very little to do with the compound-I had the original patent on the probucol derivative from UCSD which Drs. Medford and Alexander representing AtheroGenics bought. A failed drug does not represent or has anything to do with scientific misconduct.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Sampath. I tried very hard to avoid commenting on the Atherogenics episode and I agree with you that “a failed drug does not represent… scientific misconduct.” In fact, I would go further, and state that the honest and forthright presentation of a failed drug represents scientific conduct at the very highest levels.

    But the problem with Atherogenics is that they tried to spin a negative result into a positive result. I won’t go into all the details here, but there were very serious problems here in the way the company presented the results of their trials to the public (and to the investment community).

    The reason I included the paragraph about Atherogenics is because the Atherogenics story was taking place about the same time as the fraud discussed in this article was taking place in the lab. Of course I have no knowledge whatsoever about the roles played by specific individuals either in the lab or in the company, but I am struck by the (literal) coincidence of these two events.


  1. […] from R. Wayne Alexander’s research group at Emory have been retracted in the last two months. Three papers were retracted in 2011, bringing the group’s current total to 6. (News about the recent retractions was first […]

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