A University of Wisconsin neuroscience researcher falsified “Western blot images as well as quantitative and statistical data” in two NIH-supported papers and three unfunded grant applications, the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) has found.
- Adibhatla, R.M., Hatcher, J.F., Larsen E.C. et al. “CDP-choline Significantly Restores Phoshatidylcholine Levels by Differentially Affecting Phospholipase A2 and CTP:Phosphocholine Cytidylyltransferase after Stroke.” J. Biol. Chem. 281:6718-6725, 2006 (cited 65 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge)
- Adibhatla, R.M., & Hatcher, J.F. “Secretory phospholipase A2 IIA is Up-regulated by TNF-[alpha] and IL-1[alpha]/[beta] after Transient Focal Cerebral Ischemia in Rat.” Brain Research 1134:199-205, 2007 (cited 36 times)
committed research misconduct by falsifying Western blot images as well as quantitative and statistical data obtained from purported scans of the films. The research studied the effect of cerebral ischemia on phospholipid homeostasis in an experimental animal model (SHR rat) of stroke during the course of reperfusion of the ischemic cortex. The falsified Western blot images and derivative quantitative data describe changes in levels of sPLA2-IIAA, CCT[alpha], and of PLD2 during reperfusion in the ischemic cortex.
Specifically, the Respondent:
Falsified the Western blot data demonstrating sPLA2 expression in a time course after ischemia in Figure 1B of the JBC paper and Figure 2A and 2C of the Brain Research paper by rearranging the bands such that the labels do not accurately portray what is in the lanes. He perpetuated the falsification by presenting the quantification of the single falsified Western blot in a bar graph as the average of five (5) replicate Western blots. The result in the paper cannot be substantiated by the actual experiments.
Falsified the Western blot data demonstrating CCT[alpha] expression in a time course assay after ischemia in Figure 2A of the JBC paper by rearranging the bands such that the labels do not accurately portray what is in the lanes. He perpetuated the falsification by presenting the quantification of the single falsified Western blot in a bar graph as the average of four (4) replicate Western blots and the six (6) hour time point was further falsified to make the results look better. The result in the paper cannot be substantiated by the actual experiments.
Falsified the quantification of a Western blot demonstrating PLD2 expression in a time course after ischemia in Figure 3A of the JBC paper by claiming a bar graph quantifying a single Western blot is the average of four Western blots.
Submitted the same falsified Western blot images and bar graph data in three unfunded grant applications: NS042008-05, NS042008-05A1, and NS042008-05A2. Specifically:
- the falsified sPLA2-IIA data were submitted as Figures 3, 8, and 12 in the respective NS042008-05, -05A1, and -05A2 applications
- the falsified CCT[alpha] data appeared as Figures 10, 15, and 16 in the respective -05, -05A1, and -05A2 applications
- The falsified PLD2 bar graph data and associated statistical claims appeared as Figures 8 and 13 in the -05 and -05A1 applications respectively.
Adibhatla won’t be eligible for NIH grants for two years, and won’t be able to serve on any NIH committees — including peer review committees — for three years.
We’ve contacted him, along with the University of Wisconsin, and will update with anything we learn.
Update, 2 p.m. Eastern, 1/28/13: The University of Wisconsin tells Retraction Watch that Adibhatla is not tenured, and that his contract will not be renewed when it ends in the next few months:
It is distressing and disappointing whenever we encounter situations where research integrity is compromised, which, thankfully, is not often.