Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Five more retractions for researcher who sued PubPeer commenters brings tally to 18

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Fazlul Sarkar

Fazlul Sarkar

A cancer researcher who tried to sue PubPeer commenters for criticizing his work has earned five more retractions, bringing his total to 18. 

All of the new retractions for Fazlul Sarkar, formerly based at Wayne State University in Michigan, appear in the International Journal of Cancer. All cite an institutional investigation, and relate to issues with images.

With 18 retractions, Sarkar has now earned a spot on our leaderboard.

We first encountered Sarkar when he subpoenaed PubPeer to reveal the names of anonymous commenters that potentially cost him a job at the University of Mississippi. Earlier this month, a Wayne State spokesperson confirmed to us that Sarkar has now retired from the university. (To get up to speed, check out our timeline on the major events in this case.)

Here’s the first of the retraction notices, issued today:

This article has been retracted at the request of: Editor-in-Chief and Author

‘Inhibition of nuclear factor κb activity by genistein is mediated via Notch-1 signaling pathway in pancreatic cancer cells’, by Wang, Z., Zhang, Y., Banerjee, S., Li, Y. and Sarkar, F. H.

The above article and associated erratum, published online on 11 November 2005 and 6 February 2014, respectively, in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), have been retracted by agreement between the authors, the journal Editor-in-Chief, Professor Peter Lichter, and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. In addition to what was corrected in the erratum, a university investigation involving the first and the corresponding author determined that several figures in this paper were re-used, mislabeled, manipulated, or duplicated while processing/compiling the final figures assembled from the original data sources. Therefore, the authors are retracting the paper in its entirety although they maintain that these issues did not affect the major conclusions. They apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

The 2005 paper has been cited 89 times, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science. The first author is Zhiwei Wang, who has been flagged by some of Sarkar’s previous retractions; the corresponding author is Sarkar. Its erratum is yet to be cited.

And here’s the next retraction notice:

This article has been retracted at the request of: Editor-in-Chief and Co-author

‘Down-regulation of Jagged-1 induces cell growth inhibition and S phase arrest in prostate cancer cells’ by Zhang, Y., Wang, Z., Ahmed, F., Banerjee, S., Li, Y. and Sarkar, F. H.

The above article, published online on 5 July 2006, in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), has been retracted by agreement between the authors, the journal Editor-in-Chief, Professor Peter Lichter, and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. A university investigation involving the second and the corresponding author determined that histone bands in Fig. 4 in this paper were manipulated and that β-actin bands in Fig. 1C were duplicated from another publication. Therefore, the authors are retracting the paper in its entirety although they maintain that these issues did not affect the major conclusions. They apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

This 2006 paper — which lists Wang as the second author, and Sarkar as corresponding author — has been cited 57 times.

Next, here’s the retraction notice for a 2006 paper:

This article has been retracted at the request of: Editor-in-Chief and Author

In vitro and in vivo molecular evidence of genistein action in augmenting the efficacy of cisplatin in pancreatic cancer’ by Banerjee, S., Zhang, Y., Wang, Z., Che, M., Chiao, P. J., Abbruzzese, J. L. and Sarkar, F. H.

The above article and associated erratum, published online on 27 November 2006 and 6 February 2014, respectively, in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), have been retracted by agreement between the authors, the journal Editor-in-Chief, Professor Peter Lichter, and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. A university investigation involving the first and the corresponding author determined that several figures in this paper, including the b-actin bands in Fig. 1C in the erratum, were re-used, mislabeled, manipulated, or duplicated while processing/compiling the final figures assembled from the original data sources. Therefore, the authors are retracting the paper in its entirety although they maintain that these issues did not affect the major conclusions. They apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

This paper has so far garnered 62 citations, and its erratum is yet to be cited. The first author is Sanjeev Banerjee; Sarkar is again the corresponding author.

Next is a 2008 paper that has been cited 32 times. Here is its retraction notice:

This article has been retracted at the request of: Editor-in-Chief and Author

‘TW-37, a small-molecule inhibitor of Bcl-2, inhibits cell growth and invasion in pancreatic cancer’ by Wang, Z., Song, W., Aboukameel, A., Mohammad, M., Wang, G., Banerjee, S., Kong, D., Wang, S., Sarkar, F. H. and Mohammad, R. M.

The above article, published online on 4 June 2008, in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), has been retracted by agreement between the authors, the journal Editor-in-Chief, Professor Peter Lichter, and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. A university investigation involving the first and the second-to-last author determined that several figures from another published paper were manipulated or duplicated and re-used in this paper. Therefore, the authors are retracting the paper in its entirety although they maintain that these issues did not affect the major conclusions. They apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Finally, here’s the retraction notice for a 2010 paper that has accumulated 10 citations:

This article has been retracted at the request of: Editor-in-Chief and Co-author

‘Restoring sensitivity to oxaliplatin by a novel approach in gemcitabine-resistant pancreatic cancer cells in vitro and in vivo’ by Banerjee, S., Kong, D., Azmi, A. S., Wang, Z., Ahmad, A., Sethi, S. and Sarkar, F. H.

The above article, published online on 16 November 2010, in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), has been retracted by agreement between the authors, the journal Editor-in-Chief, Professor Peter Lichter, and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. A university investigation involving the first and corresponding author determined that several figures in this paper were mislabeled, manipulated, or duplicated and relabeled while processing/compiling the final figures assembled from the original data sources. Therefore, the authors are retracting the paper in its entirety although they maintain that these issues did not affect the major conclusions. They apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Sarkar also filed a lawsuit against the University of Mississippi for rescinding their job offer, but a judge dismissed the case in 2015. After Sarkar subpoenaed PubPeer to reveal the names of critics that may have cost him the job, a court ruled that the site could keep all except one commenter’s identity anonymous. The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing PubPeer, has appealed that decision, earning the support of some influential voices such as Google and Twitter.

Commenters on our site have recently alleged that Sarkar has moved to the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, by pointing us to this page.

We’ve reached out to the University of Malaya to find out if this is the same Fazlul Sarkar, and will update the post with anything we learn.

By our count, Sarkar also has 10 corrections.

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Comments
  • ohman August 18, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    I believe the Fazlul Sarkar at the University of Malaya is indeed the same as the one from Wayne State. If you use the Directory function at the URL below and go to the 8th page under “F,” there is an entry for Fazlul Hoque Sarkar with his photo.

    https://www.um.edu.my/staff/staff-directory

    • KK August 18, 2016 at 6:45 pm

      we are the “real” investigators! how did you manage to find this information? I am not surprised that he is a visiting professor somewhere else as well.

  • Anonymous August 18, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    What made him retire? He had 5 R01s at one point of time???

    • fernandopessoa August 19, 2016 at 4:34 am

      What do you think?

  • Morty August 19, 2016 at 2:55 am

    How many millions of dollars have been wasted on junk science?
    How many scientist have wasted time on these articles just to know
    that all of what is left is only erroneous conlusions based on fake data.
    Wayne state university and NIH was warned many years ago regarding Sarkar,
    and I am very disappointed.

    • fernandopessoa August 24, 2016 at 12:49 pm

      Morty,

      How many years ago is “many years ago”?

      “Wayne state university and NIH was warned many years ago regarding Sarkar,
      and I am very disappointed.”

  • fernandopessoa August 19, 2016 at 7:59 am

    Docking the pay of the senior administration at Wayne State might focus the mind.

  • Upset August 24, 2016 at 12:23 am

    And what about the people who donated money to the Karmanos Cancer Institute for research? What about the Karmanos family themselves, who donated a lot. I bet they are furious.

    • fernandopessoa August 24, 2016 at 9:25 am

      Those are grounds for a more wide-ranging investigation. For example, what kind of oversight was there? When was the earliest credible evidence that something was not quite kosher with the publications?

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