Researcher suing PubPeer commenters earns 5 retractions following investigation

sarkar
Fazlul Sarkar

An investigation at Wayne State University has prompted five retractions for a scientist who is suing PubPeer commenters after they criticized his work on the site.

The investigation into Fazlul Sarkar and his co-authors found that the papers contain images that were “inappropriately manipulated” or “inappropriately re-used and re-labeled.” All five retraction notices are from the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Concurrent inhibition of NF-κB, cyclooxygenase-2, and epidermal growth factor receptor leads to greater anti-tumor activity in pancreatic cancer:

The above article, published online on March 8, 2010 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), has been retracted by agreement between the journal Editor in Chief, Gary S. Stein, and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. The retraction has been agreed following an investigation from Wayne State University involving the first author and the corresponding author that found Figures 2A, 4, 6A, and 6C to be inappropriately manipulated.

The paper has been cited 18 times, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science. The first author on that paper is Shadan Ali, listed at Wayne State University.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Down-regulation of uPA and uPAR by 3,3′-diindolylmethane contributes to the inhibition of cell growth and migration of breast cancer cells:”

The above article, published online on August 19, 2009 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), has been retracted by agreement between the journal Editor in Chief, Gary S. Stein, and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. The retraction has been agreed following an investigation from Wayne State University involving the third author and the corresponding author that found Figure 5C to be inappropriately re-used and re-labeled.

The paper has been cited 31 times. The third author is Zhiwei Wang, listed at Wayne State University.

Next, the retraction notice for “Down-regulation of Notch-1 and Jagged-1 inhibits prostate cancer cell growth, migration and invasion, and induces apoptosis via inactivation of Akt, mTOR, and NF-κB signaling pathways:”

The above article, published online on January 5, 2010 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), has been retracted by agreement between the journal Editor in Chief, Gary S. Stein, and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. The retraction has been agreed following an investigation from Wayne State University involving the first author and the corresponding author that found Figure 5A to be inappropriately manipulated.

That paper has been cited 112 times. Wang is the first author. Both Wang and Sarkar as listed as corresponding authors.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Down-regulation of Notch-1 is associated with Akt and FoxM1 in inducing cell growth inhibition and apoptosis in prostate cancer cells:”

The above article, published online on July 23, 2010 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), has been retracted by agreement between the journal Editor in Chief, Gary S. Stein, and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. The retraction has been agreed following an investigation from Wayne State University involving the first author and the corresponding author that found Figures 1B and 3A to be inappropriately manipulated.

The paper has been cited 53 times. Wang is the first author; Wang and Sarkar are both listed as corresponding authors.

And the retraction notice for “Over-expression of FoxM1 leads to epithelial-mesenchymal transition and cancer stem cell phenotype in pancreatic cancer cells:”

The above article, published online on April 18, 2011 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), has been retracted by agreement between the journal Editor in Chief, Gary S. Stein, and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. The retraction has been agreed following an investigation from Wayne State University involving the second author that found Figures 1C and 4C to be inappropriately re-used and re-labeled.

The paper has been cited 118 times. The second author on that paper is Wang; Sarkar is the last and corresponding author.

Wayne State’s associate vice president of research told us:

Unfortunately, I am unable to discuss the investigation with you.

In September, a judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Sarkar against the University of Mississippi after it rescinded a job offer after reviewing concerns raised about his research on PubPeer. Sarkar has also taken the site to court to force them to reveal the identity of some anonymous commenters, who he has accused of defamation, arguing they cost him the job offer. Earlier this year, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a brief on behalf of PubPeer’s appeal of the court’s most recent ruling, that the site must disclose the identity of an anonymous commenter. Heavy hitters (such as Bruce Alberts, Harold Varmus, and Google) have weighed in, filing briefs in support of the appeal.

We’ve also unearthed several corrections that list Sarkar as a co-author, some of which he shares with Wang. We’ll just list the titles of the papers here with links to the notices.

An we’ve found one correction for a paper on which Sarkar is not an author, but Ali and Wang are both co-authors:

In response to the criticism that Figure 3b of our paper is composed of different bands and gels without clearly stating that fact in the legend, the authors performed the exact experiments again without cutting and fusing any bands and using the same exposure time. These results are now being published. The authors apologize for the shortcomings in the original presentation of these results.

The paper has been cited 15 times.

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5 thoughts on “Researcher suing PubPeer commenters earns 5 retractions following investigation”

  1. That’s 5 retractions in one journal, Journal of Cellular Biochemistry.
    That is unlikely to be the only journal involved.

    “Unfortunately, I am unable to discuss the investigation with you.” hinders public knowledge.

  2. FH Sarkar paper under renewed scrutiny.

    Mol Cancer Ther. 2006 Mar;5(3):483-93.
    Down-regulation of Notch-1 contributes to cell growth inhibition and apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells.
    Wang Z1, Zhang Y, Li Y, Banerjee S, Liao J, Sarkar FH.
    Author information
    1Department of Pathology, Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University School of Medicine, 9374 Scott Hall, 540 East Canfield, Detroit, MI 48201, USA.

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/16546962

    Figure 1D.
    http://i.imgur.com/f8s3f5b.jpg

    Figure 6.
    http://i.imgur.com/P7Puzsy.jpg

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