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Former Researcher at School of Public Health Retracts Three Papers

By Quinn D. Hatoff, Contributing Writer

Akio Kawakami has retracted three articles that he published during his time as a medical researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health.

School of Public Health professor Frank M. Sacks co-authored all three of the articles, and one of the articles was also written by Harvard Medical School professor Peter Libby.

The articles were published in American Heart Association (AHA) journals in 2008 and 2010. Kawakami worked as a researcher at Harvard from April 2004 to March 2006, leaving for a position in the department of Geriatrics and Vascular Medicine at Tokyo Medical and Dental University.

Kawakami came forward in Dec. 2011 to request the retraction of the papers, according to a statement released by Julie F. Rafferty, a School of Public Health spokesperson.

“Dr. Kawakami informed colleagues at HSPH and Brigham and Women’s Hospital that there were concerns related to the accuracy and authenticity of the research data he had produced,” Rafferty wrote in the statement.

Questions of accuracy, instances of improper data presentation, and “negligence in keeping proper original records” were among several problems with the three articles, according to retraction notices posted on the AHA website.

“Because the number of experiments was inflated in some studies, and the corresponding author presented some data from unrelated experiments, the results are not verifiable,” the Notice of Retraction read for Kawakami’s 2010 article published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.

The School of Public Health is conducting an inquiry into the Kawakami articles, Sacks wrote in an email to the Crimson. Sacks declined to comment further on the three articles he co-authored with Kawakami.

The AHA retractions indicate that Kawakami assumed full responsibility for the problems related to the articles when he came forward in December.

“All co-authors involved in this study other than the corresponding author had no knowledge of any scientific impropriety related to the collection, analysis, or presentation of data in this article,” stated the retraction notice for a 2008 article published in Circulation Research. “Dr. Kawakami apologizes for any adverse consequences that may have resulted from the article’s publication.”

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