Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

1st retraction for cancer researcher who doctored data in 11 studies

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LeukemiaA cancer journal has retracted a paper co-authored by a researcher who falsified or fabricated data in 11 studies, according to an investigation by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI).

In December 2015, an ORI probe into the work of Girija Dasmahapatra concluded that he had

…duplicated, reused, and/or relabeled Western blot panels and mouse images and claimed they represented different controls and/or experimental results…

Dasmahapatra left the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in July 2015.

Here’s the retraction notice, issued in April 2016:

Following notification by the corresponding author (S Grant), the Editors and Publisher wish to retract this paper due to improper preparation of figures, most notably in the duplication of tubulin and other loading controls in multiple figures.

S Grant and P Dent agreed to this retraction. C Yu and G Dasmahapatra could not be reached to comment on the retraction.

The 2005 paper, “Synergistic interactions between MEK1/2 and histone deacetylase inhibitors in BCR/ABL+ human leukemia cells,” has been cited 64 times, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

A spokesperson from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond told us:

The VCU Office of Research Integrity and Ethics received an email in December 2014 from an anonymous source that alerted us to this matter. As soon as we were made aware of potential irregularities in the manuscripts’ figures, per VCU policy, we launched an internal inquiry that led to an investigation. The federal Office of Research Integrity (ORI) was notified, also per our policy, and assisted with the forensic analysis of many of the figures.

The spokesperson added:

In the course of the investigation, the former research instructor, Dr. Girija Dasmahapatra, admitted responsibility. This led to the Voluntary Exclusion Agreement between him and the ORI. Dasmahapatra left VCU in July 2015. The laboratory in which he worked has taken steps to prevent these kinds of errors from occurring again, and journals where the manuscripts were published have been contacted in order to take the necessary editorial actions.

According to the ORI report, the 10 other affected papers will be retracted or corrected, and Dasmahapatra will

exclude himself for a period of three (3) years from the effective date of the Agreement from any contracting or subcontracting with any agency of the United States Government…

Several studies by Dent and Grant that do not include Dasmahapatra as an author are being questioned on PubPeer. Dent has previously issued two errata (1,2) for image-related issues; Grant is a co-author on one of them.

A spokerperson from Springer Nature, the publisher of Leukemia, referred us to the retraction notice.

We also reached out to Grant, the corresponding author of the study, and will update the post with anything else we learn.

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