Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Authors retract third cancer paper for missing original data

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international-journal-of-oncologyResearchers have retracted their third paper due to missing original data, following an investigation at their former institution in New York.

We’ve previously reported on two retractions of papers co-authored by Bhagavathi Narayanan and Narayanan K. Narayanan, previously based at the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine. The studies were pulled when the pair couldn’t provide original images to investigators at NYU School of Medicine. One author has blamed the lack of original data on the abrupt closure of her previous institution in 2004, after it allegedly misspent millions in federal grants. 

However, the latest retraction affects a paper published eight years later in the International Journal of Oncology. Its coauthors include Bhagavathi Narayanan, Narayanan K. Narayanan and Rajkishen Narayanan; we haven’t been able to uncover if there is a relation between them.

A spokesperson for the NYU School of Medicine sent us this statement:

Neither Narayanan K. Narayanan and Bhagavathi Narayanan have been on the faculty at NYU School of Medicine since November 2015.  All allegations involving their published work have been investigated thoroughly in accordance with our policy and commitment to the highest standards in research integrity.

Here’s the retraction notice:

Following the publication of this article, which was concerned with the expression of phosphorylated epidermal growth factor receptor (pEGFR) and cyclin D1 activation independently of the expression levels of cyclo-oxygenase-2, an interested reader drew to our attention apparent anomalies associated with the western blot data shown in Fig. 2C. Following an internal investigation at the New York University School of Medicine, we were requested to produce the original film, or the scan of the image of the film, for verification. Unfortunately, we were unable to provide the original film or scanned image to disprove the allegation, since the original pEGFR image could not be found. Therefore, the Investigation Committee recommended that this article be retracted, and we are withdrawing the article in line with the request. All the authors agree to the retraction of this paper. We sincerely regret any inconvenience this has caused. [the original article was published in the International Journal of Oncology 40: 13-20, 2012; DOI: 10.3892/ijo.2011.1211]

The 2012 paper, “Epidermal growth factor-stimulated human cervical cancer cell growth is associated with EGFR and cyclin D1 activation, independent of COX-2 expression levels,” has been cited 12 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters.

The two previous retractions affected papers published in 2003 and 2006; in those cases, Bhagavathi Narayanan attributed the missing data and images to an abrupt shutdown in 2004 of the Institute for Cancer Prevention in New York (also known as the American Health Foundation), where she used to work. The reason for closure, according to the New York Post, was misspent federal grants of $5.7 million.

We’ve reached out to Bhagavathi Narayanan and Narayanan K. Narayanan via their NYU email addresses for a comment on the newest retraction, and will update if we hear anything back.

When we reported on her last retraction in February, Bhagavathi Narayanan told us:

We are living in hell.

In response to criticism of her papers on PubPeer, she added at the time:

It’s discrimination, [it’s] jealousy, it is targeting somebody. Most of the PubPeer comments were meritless. They just want to hurt the people…This is not a pleasant experience to share…This is, at the expense of [someone’s] dead body, eating the other person’s flesh.

We’ve also found an erratum for B. Narayanan and N. K. Narayanan for a mistaken duplication in a paper in the International Journal of Cancer:

In the original version of the article, the panel in Fig. 5a was a duplication of Fig. 1a that was mistakenly published. In response to the readers’ concern and the publisher’s request, the authors repeated the experiment and provided new images for Fig 5a. Fig. 5a now shows a DAPI/FITC counterstain for control vs. resveratrol (RE) treated. This did not affect the outcome of the study.

The 2003 study, “Differential expression of genes induced by resveratrol in LNCaP cells: P53-mediated molecular targets,” has been cited 103 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters.

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