According to an investigation report released by the ORI last year, all 11 studies co-authored by Girija Dasmahapatra, formerly based at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, will either be retracted or corrected. In April, Dasmahapatra lost the first of the 11 papers flagged by the ORI in the journal Leukemia. Earlier this month, a second paper from the list was pulled by Clinical Cancer Research.
Dasmahapatra isn’t the only VCU researcher who’s been busy correcting the literature. All 11 papers mentioned in the ORI report list Steven Grant as last author; Paul Dent is a co-author of nine of these studies. Last month, we reported on a retraction in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) and a mega-correction in Molecular Pharmacology issued for papers by Grant and Dent due to problems with images. Neither paper included Dasmahapatra as a co-author.
We’ve also previously reported on four other errata for image-related issues for papers by Dent (one of which lists Grant as a co-author). Now, we’ve come across another correction in JBC for the pair, which was published last month.
The retraction includes some familiar names: The last author Steven Grant, senior author of the newly retracted study, is also the last author of 11 papers flagged in a report by the ORI in December, 2015. That report focused on Girija Dasmahapatra, a co-author of the 11 studies who was also based at at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Dasmahapatra left VCU in 2015, and is not listed on the latest retraction.
The retracted paper, published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC), was also co-authored by Paul Dent, a biochemist at the VCU, who we mentioned last year when he offered to retract another paper in Molecular Pharmacology after concerns arose on PubPeer. The journal has instead issued a lengthy correction (what we call a “mega-correction”).
A VCU spokesperson told us:
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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.
The Office of Research Integrity’s findings are based on an inquiry at Virginia Commonwealth University, where Girija Dasmahapatra worked until July of this year, investigating possible therapies for cancer. The misconduct affected research funded by three grants from the National Institutes of Health. Steven Grant, a researcher at VCU, is the principal investigator on the grants, each of which total over $2 million in funding. All of the 11 affected papers will be corrected or retracted, according to the ORI notice.
Two of the papers containing “falsified and/or fabricated” data — a study on an experimental combination of drugs for blood cancer and one on chemotherapies for rare forms of lymphoma — were covered in press releases by VCU.
According to the notice in the Federal Register: