University of Maryland duo notches third retraction

Anil Jaiswal, via U Maryland
Anil Jaiswal, via U Maryland

A pair of researchers at the University of Maryland have retracted a third paper.

Here’s the unhelpful Journal of Biological Chemistry notice for “Inhibitor of Nrf2 (INrf2 or Keap1) protein degrades Bcl-xL via phosphoglycerate mutase 5 and controls cellular apoptosis,” by Suryakant Niture and Anil Jaiswal:

This article has been withdrawn by the authors.

The paper has been cited 14 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. The work was funded by the NIH.

Jaiswal has never responded to our requests for comment on his other retractions, but we asked him again to comment about this one.



10 thoughts on “University of Maryland duo notches third retraction”

  1. This paper made quite a splash in the Nrf2/Keap1 signaling field at the time. PGAM5 is an isoform of phospyglycerate mutase (a glycolytic enzyme), which appears to be tethered to the outer membrane of mitochondria. Keap1 is known to be redox sensitive, and mitochondria make ROS, so this paper led to the idea that maybe there’s a specific sup-population of Keap1/Nrf2 which exists close to the mito’, tethered by PGAM5, in order to respond specifically to mito’ ROS. A lot of labs went after this as a specific signaling pathway, and the idea made its way into a good number of lectures and review articles by other people in the Nrf/Keap field. What a tragic waste of resources!

    Looking at the paper, there are a couple of duplicated bands here and there (Fig. 4B 2nd panel down, left side, 3rd lane bears striking resemblance to band in 3rd panel down in Figure 4C, left side) and some undisclosed splicing seams.

    1. Is the PGAM5-Nrf2 interaction really no more? Actually the first article in PubMed appears to be much earlier (2006) and by a different group

      So if that work is sound, then the new retraction is not critical? Of course, since you are close to this topic, you may know more about unpublished failures to replicate the PGAM5-Nrf2-Bcl associations?

  2. I’ll add to the discussion some rather astonishing numbers. The PGAM5 paper being discussed here contained over 170 separate panels of western blot data. Furthermore, the earlier retracted JBC paper on HSP90 contained another 170 separate panels of western blot data. Just applying basic math (say 1% of all data is crap), there will to be 3-4 questionable pieces of data in these papers.

    Being conservative with the costs, say $40 per gel (acrylamide, supplies, antibodies, membranes, markers, tips, consumables, buffers, chemicals, DI water) = $13,600 just for the blots. Throw in the sample prep’ to get to the point of running a gel, and we’re at double that. Then say 1 gel per day for a post-doc earning $45k plus benefits, for 340 days. So, for these 2 papers that’s $90k in wasted money, just on the actual papers themselves, not to mention the wasted time in other labs spent trying to investigate these findings further.

    I’m guessing $90k would be a reasonable salary for an ethics officer at a journal, to check this stuff before it gets published. If the person catches a couple of crap papers per year, it pays for itself in savings of wasted NIH dollars. Why are taxpayers not demanding all journals do this?

    1. How would you propose to inform taxpayers of this waste?

      I believe that a lot of people would like for their money to be more efficiently allocated. However, many people do not know about some of these questionable research practices being implemented with NIH funds, which is a problem because many voices of dissent would probably be needed to evoke this type of restructuring.

      How can someone demand change for a problem they are unaware even exists?

  3. On a construction project, whenever work is done incorrectly and has to be redone, someone has to pay. If a contractor fails to deliver, or delivers a product that is substandard, he/she is penalized. The same level of penalty must apply to researchers who provide fraudulent findings.

    Owners or government entities that pay construction contractors mitigate their risks by requiring bonds (e.g. performance bonds) and insurances from contractors. Designers are required to carry liability insurances. Maybe it is time for researchers who derive their funding and salaries from the public purse provide taxpayers with bonds and insurances so that there is some recourse in the event of fraud.

    1. You have chosen a very wrong analogy and IMO your ideas are misplaced. In research you start with a hypothesis which may or may not turn out to be true and so there can be no guarantees. You do some preliminary experiments and provide that data to convince reviewers that your hypothesis will work out but even for doing those preliminary experiments money is needed. I agree that accountability is required but bonds and insurance are not the way to go about it.

  4. Good ol’ JBC. The bread and butter of retraction watch. 269 pubpeer entries (~3-5 completely new entries/week), miles ahead of PNAS (116). Coincidence?

  5. Another Baltimore cover up. After two years of delayed investigation, the Assistant Dean for Graduate and Post-Doctoral Studies of the University of Maryland had released a statement that Dr. Jaiswal is stepping down as Co-Director of Toxicology Graduate Program without any reason, praising his dedicated leadership and service to the Toxicology Graduate Program. This is nothing different from Dr. Jaiswal’s retraction statements without giving reasons. Also does that mean the graduate students should follow his leadership and ‘refinement’ in publishing data? The public has every right to know why Dr. Jaiswal is stepping down as Co-Director. We are eagerly waiting to hear what the NIH stand is in this case. I wonder whether there is any one like Nicholas Klinefeldt, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa or Senator like Chuck Grassley, in Baltimore! Interesting excerpts from The Des Moines Register “The case prompted U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley to question whether the government would ever be able to recoup any grant money awarded as the result of Han’s fraud. In a May 9 letter to Grassley, a director with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services wrote that ISU would have to repay $496,832, which was the amount of federal grant money that went toward paying Han’s salary……..Han’s prosecution should send a message to university officials and researchers nationwide that fraud in research activities can be a criminal offense, said Arthur Caplan, a medical ethics professor at New York University……….Too often, serious ethical and legal violations by researchers can end up being settled privately without the public’s knowledge, he said.”

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