Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Following an earlier investigation, GW biologist earns two expressions of concern

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3.cover (1)The Journal of Biological Chemistry has flagged two papers by a George Washington University cancer biologist with expressions of concern, following an investigation completed by the university in 2014.

The notes contain little specific information; all we know is that there are questions about the data and conclusions in the papers.

The last author on both papers is Rakesh Kumar, who adds these EoCs to a count that includes, according to our records, three retractions and five corrections. Plus an $8 million lawsuit against his employer for emotional distress when they put him on leave from his position as department chair.

The studies — “Stimulation of inducible nitric oxide by hepatitis B virus transactivator protein HBx requires MTA1 coregulator” and “Regulation of NF-B circuitry by a component of the nucleosome remodeling and deacetylase complex controls inflammatory response homeostasis” — have been cited 22 times and 33 times respectively, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

The expression of concern is the same for both papers — and matches others that we’ve seen from JBC:

The publisher of the Journal of Biological Chemistry is issuing an Expression of Concern to inform readers that questions have been raised with the corresponding author’s institution regarding some of the data and conclusions in the articles listed above.

This Expression of Concern is solely intended to notify readers for informational purposes. It is not a statement regarding the validity of the data. The Journal of Biological Chemistry will provide additional information as it becomes available.

A PubPeer comment on the NF-B circuitry paper suggests that a gel slice in one figure may be superimposable on the other.

Thanks to an exhibit from the university’s motion to dismiss Kumar’s lawsuit, we know he was hired at GW in 2008 with a base salary of $300,000 plus $1.25 million in start-up funds for his laboratory and $2.5 million for the department.

However, an internal investigation by committee from 2013-2014 found that Kumar “committed research misconduct with respect to ten” of fourteen allegations. He later sued the university.

We know from Kumar’s opposition to GW’s motion to dismiss his lawsuit that the university formed an the Investigation Committee and interviewed

14 current and former members of Dr. Kumar’s laboratory; Dr. Kumar; three members of Dr. Kumar’s office staff; and five additional witnesses.

A spokesperson for GW told us that yes, Kumar still works at GW

however, we do not comment on pending litigation.

We’ve reached out to Kumar. We’ll update this post with anything else we learn.

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