Alirio Melendez, who was found guilty of scientific misconduct by the National University of Singapore and has had 13 papers retracted, says none of what he’s being accused of is true.
In a statement posted yesterday at ajmelendez.co.uk and this morning at Retraction Watch, Melendez acknowledges that fraud occurred in his laboratory, but “categorically” denies having taken part in it. Here’s the full statement:
“The National University of Singapore (NUS) has blamed me for scientific fraud and misconduct for finding irregularities in several publications without showing any proof whatsoever that I am the guilty party for scientific fraud”
There is no proof of this, and, since I did not take part in any scientific fraud at any time, there will be none. If there was any scientific misconduct being practised in a laboratory where I was the supervisor, it was completely without my knowledge.
Moreover, of the papers in which NUS blamed me for fraud, I categorically deny having been party to any fraudulent or scientific misconduct. However, after being shown the evidence, I can see that somebody(s) working in a laboratory I supervised did commit scientific fraud. At the time of publication I did not see anything wrong with the papers, I have to stress that every paper is reviewed by peers of the highest calibre, three to five specialists, who also did not find any fraud in these papers. Of course, I do accept the “corresponding author” responsibility for overseeing the project, but I never knowingly, or otherwise, did anything wrong. I also trusted my co-workers absolutely, which may have been a mistake in hindsight, but one has to trust all team members.
I must also stress that, for at least seven of the papers in which the NUS report found irregularities, I cannot be given any responsibility whatsoever because they were carried out in other investigators’ laboratories. I did not contribute with anything other than providing advice and/or specialised reagents. These papers are:
1. Int. J Biochem Cell Biol 2010 Feb; 42(2):230-40. Jayapal M, Bhattacharjee RN, Melendez AJ, Hande MP.
2. World J Biol Chem 2010 Nov 26; 1 (11): 321-6. Lai WQ, Melendez AJ, Leung BP.
3. J Immunol 2009 Jul 15;183(2):1413-8. Lai WQ, Irwan AW, Goh HH, Melendez AJ, McInnes IB, Leung BP.
4. Blood 2009 Jul 9;114(2):318-27. (NUS repport concern of plagiarism) Dai X, Jayapal M, Tay HK, Reghunathan R, Lin G, Too CT, Lim YT, Chan SH, Kemeny DM, Floto RA, Smith KG, Melendez AJ, MacAry PA.
5. J Cell Physiol 2008 Mar; 214(3); 796-809. Newman JP, Banerjee B, Fang W, Poonepalli A, Balakrishnan L, Low GK, Bhattacharjee RN, Akira S, Jayapal M, Melendez AJ, Baskar R, Lee HW, Hande MP.
6. Nitric Oxide 2008 Mar; 18(2), 136-45. Peng ZF, Chen MJ, Yap YW, Manikandan J, Melendez AJ, Choy MS, Moore PK, Cheung NS.
7. Neuropharmacology 2007, 53, 687-98. Peng ZF, Koh CH, Li QT, Manikandan J, Melendez AJ, Tang SY, Halliwell B, Cheung NS.
I had nothing to do with the data generation or analysis, nor with any part of the manuscript writing. This should be of common knowledge at NUS, so it brings out the question: “how can I be blamed for the above-mentioned papers ?….
It does, however, raise a serious issue, which is that there appears to be a cover-up going on: firstly; for the truth of what has actually happened, and secondly; for the scale of what is going on at NUS.
Although, without my knowledge, scientific misconduct has obviously been carried out in my laboratory, for which I apologise, however the real perpetrators of the misconduct are not being uncovered. In fact, very strangely, everybody else involved in these projects have been
cleared by NUS. Thus, it can only be said that I have been, and am, the victim of an orchestrated campaign for discrediting me and being made a “scape goat”.
One of my questions; several times I have requested for NUS to interview me (after I had sent written responses answering all the accusations in their reports), in an effort to help with their enquiries and in order to establish the full truth (with the confidence that I would then clear my name). I waited for answers to my letters to NUS for over a year, answers that never came. NUS then published their “conclusions” without my prior knowledge or acceptance, and was made public without informing me of any publication date.
I categorically deny, and always will deny, the falsification of data and plagiarism of which I have been accused.
We should note that while we are reasonably sure this statement came from Melendez or someone he designated to act on his behalf, we have attempted to verify that it’s from him and will update with anything we learn.