Scientist who faked data in his thesis will keep his PhD
Last month, we reported on the case of Nitin Aggarwal, who earned his PhD at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and who, according to the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), faked data in his graduate thesis, in applications for National Institutes of Health and American Heart Association grant, and in two published papers.
Given the findings about his PhD thesis — and the fact that he had won a $1,000 award for his dissertation — we were curious whether he would lose his degree. Ravi Misra, dean of the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Graduate School of Biomedical Science, tells Retraction Watch he won’t:
Because we take these issues seriously, the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences convened a special committee to investigate allegations that Nitin Aggarwal falsified information in his doctoral dissertation. The thesis was found to be scientifically valid, and a decision was made to allow Nitin Aggarwal to retain his terminal degree, but with notations on the findings placed in his academic record.
Aggarwal is now working at Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Update, 5:45 p.m. Eastern, 11/13/13: One of Aggarwal’s papers has now been retracted:
For the paper by Nitin T. Aggarwal, Sandra L. Pfister, and William B. Campbell (Hypercholesterolemia enhances 15-lipoxygenase–mediated vasorelaxation and acetylcholine-induced hypotension. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2008;28:2209–2215; DOI: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.108.177113), after an investigation by the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the MCW concluded that Dr Aggarwal knowingly and intentionally falsified data, specifically Figures 1A and 1D. To MCW’s knowledge, Dr Aggarwal is solely responsible for the research misconduct.
The editors, therefore, hereby retract the paper.
Update, 10 p.m. Eastern, 11/13/13: As someone pointed out on Twitter, there is a likely typo in the retraction notice we quote. Where it says “investigation by the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) of the University of Wisconsin-Madison,” it should probably say “investigation by the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) AND the University of Wisconsin-Madison,” because the ORI mentions an investigation by both — and they are two separate institutions.