Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Cancer researcher has correction upgraded to retraction

with 11 comments

mol endo coverRakesh Kumar, a researcher with six recent corrections and one retraction, has had one of those corrections upgraded to a retraction.

Here’s the unhelpful notice, from Molecular Endocrinology:

The August 2007 Molecular Endocrinology article by by Gururaj et al, “Estrogen Induces Expression of BCAS3, A Novel Estrogen Receptor-alpha Coactivator, through Proline-, Glutamic Acid-, and Leucine-Rich Protein-1 (PELP1)” (Mol Endocrinol 21:1847–1860, doi: 10.1210/me.2006-0514), is withdrawn by the authors.

This was the correction:

In the August 2007 Molecular Endocrinology article by Gururaj et al. “Estrogen induces expression of BCAS3, a novel estrogen receptor-alpha coactivator, through proline-, glutamic acid-, and leucine-rich protein-1 (PELP1)” (Mol Endocrinol 21:1847–60; Epub 2007 May 15. PubMed PMID: 17505058; doi: 10.1210/me.2006–0514), the authors note certain inadvertent errors in the Actin mRNA lanes in Figure 3H and splicing in the pS2 ChIP in Figure 7A upper panel while composing the panels.

mol endo

The authors are replacing the published Figures 3H and 7A panels with an erratum using data from repeat experiments. There is no change in the text and figure legends. These changes do not change the original scientific conclusions and the validity of the findings remains the same. The authors regret the error.

The original paper has been cited nine times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Kumar, who was at MD Anderson when the paper was originally published. appears to have left the George Washington University, where he was recently chair of biochemistry. He is a visiting distinguished professor of biotechnology at the Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology in Kerala, lndia. Our requests for comment from him have gone unanswered.

Hat tip: Kerry Grens

  • Leonid Schneider August 28, 2014 at 10:00 am

    The journal calls this “Withdrawn by author”, not “Retraction”. Saves authors’ and journal’s face, and sounds like it had really nothing at all to do with any misconduct. What a farce.

  • ferniglab August 28, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Some upgrade, more like being shifted from business to economy and then bumped off the flight and chased out of the airport !

    • JATdS August 28, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      Actually, I disagree ferniglab. That would constitute a downgrade and expulsion. In this case, he is now a “distinguished” and invited professor at a very “respectable” institute in India. He still most likely receives a great salary and benefits, including travel fees. So, ironically, this would be an upgrade. I agree fully with Leonid’s characterization of the notice as a farce. The surprising thing is that this society, The Endocrinology Society, seems to be extremely well organized (, and based in Washington (, so indeed, this would suggest that the use of the term “withdrawn by the authors” rather than “retracted by the journal” is not only meant to save face, but to dump all responsibility (including legal?) onto the authors’ shoulders. Those in this field of study: would a typical peer reviewer not be able to detect such problems with gels?

  • Neuroskeptic (@Neuro_Skeptic) August 28, 2014 at 10:43 am

    But what about the correction? Are the authors also retracting their “repeat experiments” that confirmed the results of the original paper?

    Or perhaps the repeat experiments were valid, although the originals were not?

    • Leonid Schneider August 28, 2014 at 12:05 pm

      they will be republished elsewhere, where editors are even more sympathetic to paying customers 😉

  • Paul Brookes August 28, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    So according to my records of the problem papers blogged about, in addition to the JBC retraction (PMID 22203674) there have been 8 corrections (PMIDs 22184113, 11208715, 12611881, 15193260, 15983119, 15831477, 16617102, 17505058), the last of which is the newly retracted one.

    The following remain unaddressed: 22700976, 20519513, 11146623, 12167865, 12151336, 12912973, 15173068, 15226262, 17671180, 17671172, 14530270 – there are a couple of JBC papers in there, and my attempts to badger JBC into dealing with them have so far been unsuccessful (this is likely not due to Kumar’s presence on the journal’s editorial board, which ceased in 2013). At this point it should really come as no surprise that Dr. Kumar was one of the individuals who threatened to sue me for defamation in late 2012, including attempts to subpoena my web-host into revealing contact information.

    A common author on many of these papers was Ratna Vadlamudi, who also had some papers blogged about and subsequently corrected: 18079323, 21421858, 22812534. However, there doesn’t appear to be a pattern wherein only the Vadlamudi papers are being corrected (several papers with him as an author remain in the unaddressed group). Notably the corrections, which were coming at the rate of one every few weeks in early 2013, stopped abruptly last fall. Perhaps Dr. Vadlamudi might be able to comment on whether the remaining papers will be dealt with soon, and maybe provide some details on the fate of his former colleague?

    • Neuroskeptic (@Neuro_Skeptic) August 28, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      Very interesting.

      Do you believe that Kumar’s leaving the JBC board was related to the allegations over his work?

      • Stewart August 29, 2014 at 6:20 am

        Who are the board on molecular endocrinology – or who made the decision to put such an uninformative retraction notice?

        It does nothing for science and discredits the journal.

    • Scrutineer August 28, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      I see you no longer misspell the common author’s name, as kept on – no doubt accidentally – happening over at the SF blog. I’ll put that down to a new found verbal precision resulting from your tribulations over the last two years. Still, I for one will never be able to spell that word properly ever again. Or even speak it.

  • Sci-Hi August 28, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    This is an interesting case. In addition, I noticed that Kumar is no longer the chair at GWUMC, which he was until recently.

    • Sci-Hi August 28, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      Sorry, now that I’ve finished reading the post, I realised this information was already in there.

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