Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

U Colorado’s former “golden boy” up to 7 retractions

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University of Colorado DenverA former graduate student at the University of Colorado Denver has gained three retractions and two expressions of concern (EOC), following an institutional probe into his work. 

Last year, we reported on an investigation by the University of Colorado Denver into the research of Rajendra Kadam, which recommended retracting 10 papers. The report also flagged eight additional papers co-authored by Kadam whose data could not be validated, raising “concerns as to the scientific validity and integrity” of the material. A few months later, we reported on some of the notices — four retractions and an EOC — that had begun to appear for Kadam’s manuscripts.

We’ve since discovered more notices, bringing his total to seven retractions and three EOCs. 

Kadam was once a prominent member in the lab of Uday Kompella, and often referred to by colleagues as the “golden boy,” according to the institution’s report. In 2012, he won a graduate student symposium award from the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists.

A University of Colorado Denver spokesperson told Retraction Watch:

Rajendra Kadam was a student at the time he was conducting research and he is no longer affiliated with the university. His misconduct was not discovered until after his position as a graduate research assistant had already ended.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Self-assembled Phenylalanine-α,β-dehydrophenylalanine Nanotubes for Sustained Intravitreal Delivery of a Multi-targeted Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor:”

This article has been retracted at the request of the Investigation Committee of the University of Colorado, Denver, USA, and the Editor.

The Committee has come to the conclusion that author Kadam has knowingly and intentionally falsified and/or fabricated results by manipulating LC-MS/MS peak area data to smooth kinetics and/or alter statistical significance for Figure 6.

The standard curve for the drug pazopanib was falsified to make it appear linear. In fact, the raw data for the standard curves were highly scattered and non-linear, resulting in an unusable standard curve. As a result, the pazopanib values calculated from the fabricated curve are completely unreliable.

The Committee found no evidence that any of the other authors was aware of and/or participated in any activity amounting to Scientific Misconduct.

The 2013 paper in the Journal of Controlled Release has been cited seven times, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

We’ve also recently discovered some older notices of Kadam’s that we didn’t initially spot. First, here’s a retraction notice for “Influence of choroidal neovascularization and biodegradable polymeric particle size on transscleral sustained delivery of triamcinolone acetonide:”

This article has been retracted at the request of the Investigation Committee of the University of Colorado, Denver, USA, and the Editor.

The Committee has come to the conclusion that author Kadam has knowingly and intentionally falsified and/or fabricated results by manipulating LC-MS/MS peak area data to smooth kinetics and/or alter statistical significance for Figure 3.

Data on sustained delivery of triamcinolone acetate were extensively falsified to reduce variability in the results. This appears to falsely support the conclusions regarding the influences on drug delivery reported in the paper.

The Committee found no evidence that any of the other authors was aware of and/or participated in any activity amounting to Scientific Misconduct.

This 2012 paper in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics has so far been cited 18 times. We’re not sure exactly when this notice was issued.

Finally, here’s a retraction notice issued in March 2015 for a 2011 paper published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, which has 20 citations:

Retraction of: “Sclera-Choroid-RPE Transport of Eight β-Blockers in Human, Bovine, Porcine, Rabbit, and Rat Models” by Rajendra S. Kadam, Narayan P. S. Cheruvu, Henry F. Edelhauser, and Uday B. Kompella (Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2011;52:5387–5399) doi:10.1167/iovs.10-6233

A scientific misconduct investigation by University of Colorado Denver (Anschutz Medical Campus) concluded that this paper contains falsified and/or fabricated data. Specifically, Figures 1 and 3: Some LC-MS peak areas in the β-blocker transport data reported in these figures were falsified to create smooth monotonic transport curves with smaller error bars.

Tables 2, 3; Figures 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 10: All use the primary transport data from curves in Figures 1 and 3, hence the analyses reported will all be contaminated by falsified data from Figure 1 and/or Figure 3.

The university recommended the paper be retracted from publication and the Editor-in-Chief, David C. Beebe, agreed. The paper is therefore being retracted by ARVO from IOVS.

All three retracted papers are among the list of 10 papers that the investigation report recommended for retraction, due to “significant falsification of data.”

Next, we’ve found two notices of concern for papers by Kadam.

The first notice — issued in April 2015 — is for a paper published in JAMA Ophthalmology:

JAMA Ophthalmology has been notified by the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus that the university completed a scientific misconduct investigation involving research published by Rajendra Kadam, MPharm, and has determined that 10 papers with Kadam as an author contain falsified and/or fabricated data. For the article published in 2011 by Kadam et al1 in JAMA Ophthalmology, then known as Archives of Ophthalmology, the original liquid chromatographic/mass spectrometric data were not available to compare with the data used in the analysis, and the investigative committee was unable to validate the data reported in the study.1 Therefore, the committee was unable to reach any definitive conclusion related to the integrity or reliability of the data in this report. This Editorial Expression of Concern is to inform readers about possible concerns related to data therein. If additional information becomes available about the integrity of the data reported in this article, we will determine whether additional action is warranted.

The 2011 paper, “Trabecular Meshwork and Lens Partitioning of Corticosteroids,” has so far been cited 19 times. Its EOC notice has been cited once.

The next EOC is for a Drug Delivery and Translational Research paper, and was published in December 2015:

Intravitreal Poly(L-lactide) Microparticles Sustain Retinal and Choroidal Delivery of TG-0054, a Hydrophilic Drug Intended for Neovascular Diseases. Namdev B. Shelke, Rajendra Kadam, Puneet Tyagi, Vidhya R. Rao, Uday B. Kompella. Drug Deliv Transl Res. 2011 Feb;1(1):76–90. doi: 10.1007/s13346-010-0009-8.

Drug Delivery and Translational Research is publishing this Editorial Notice of Concern regarding the integrity of the LC-MS/MS data in the above article. An investigation by the University of Colorado determined that some LC-MS data in several other papers were falsified or fabricated by Rajendra Kadam, who was the only respondent in the investigation. The Investigation Committee was unable to validate the LC-MS data in the above-referenced publication and thus could make no definitive determination relating to the integrity of the data in this manuscript.

The 2010 paper has 14 citations.

Both of these papers were flagged in university’s list of eight papers whose data could not be validated.  

And we’ve also found a corrigendum — issued in June, 2016 — for a 2011 paper published in Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, which has so far accumulated seven citations:

Corrigendum to Manuscript “Pfeifer T, Buchebner M, Chandak PG, Patankar J, Kratzer A, Obrowsky S, Rechberger GN, Kadam RS, Kompella UB, Kostner GM, Kratky D, Levak-Frank S. Synthetic LXR agonist suppresses endogenous cholesterol biosynthesis and efficiently lowers plasma cholesterol. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2011 Feb 1;12(2):285-92.” LC-MS internal standard peak areas used in the calculation of brain DMHCA levels in the original manuscript were in error. Brain tissue levels were recalculated using valid internal standard peak areas and the revised Figure 6C is presented below. Thus, brain DMHCA concentration was low and variable at 1.74 +/- 1.15 µg/g tissue but not undetectable, with the concentrations being lower relative to several other tissues.

We paused over this notice, however, because the institutional report recommended that this paper be retracted. We’ve reached out the editor-in-chief of Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology to ask why the journal chose to issue a corrigendum instead of retracting the paper. 

The report from the university blacks out all names, including Kadam’s, but Kadam was named as the responsible party in a statement last year to Retraction Watch by a vice chancellor of the University of Colorado Denver.

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Comments
  • Ralph Giorno MD August 25, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    This guy is still listed as a member of the “team” in the Kompella “lab.”

    So why is the university speaking as if he is no longer there?

    • Eh Steve August 25, 2016 at 7:16 pm

      Most lab websites are woefully out of date.

      • Ralph Giorno MD August 25, 2016 at 7:20 pm

        That’s a pathetic excuse, typical of the lack of quality control in the biomedical “research establishment.”

        • Tony Mitchell August 25, 2016 at 7:34 pm

          Ralph,
          It may be a pathetic excuse but it would be a typical for a lot of organizations who put up a website and think that is all they have to do. Or the task is given to one person and no one picks up the task when that person leaves. I have seen this happen too many times in other settings.

        • Eh Steve August 25, 2016 at 10:35 pm

          That’s pretty rich coming from someone whose website advertises a “new book just out” that was released over a year ago. Most scientists and professors are pretty busy with their research and teaching, so a secondary concern like updating a rarely-visted website usually falls by the wayside.

          • Ralph Giorno MD August 25, 2016 at 10:41 pm

            Yes, research that is mostly wrong as shown by Dr. Ioannidis!

    • Bartosz August 26, 2016 at 11:22 pm

      Well, he’s not listed anymore. Sometimes labs are slow to update their webages.

  • PB August 28, 2016 at 2:03 am

    This guy is still in the editorial board of the Journal http://www.iajpr.com/editorial-board.html

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