Highly cited cancer researcher logs 8th, 9th retractions

Bharat Aggarwal
Bharat Aggarwal

Bharat Aggarwal, a highly cited cancer researcher who retired last year from MD Anderson, has logged two retractions following an investigation into his work, bringing his total to nine.

Aggarwal has threatened to sue us in the past, and told us that MD Anderson has been investigating his work. Earlier this year, Biochemical Pharmacology retracted seven studies of which he is the only common author, noting the “data integrity has become questionable.” Now, he’s earned two more retractions in Molecular Pharmacology, both for “inappropriate” or “unacceptable” image manipulation.

Both of the notices are paywalled (tsk, tsk). Here’s one for “Flavopiridol suppresses tumor necrosis factor-induced activation of activator protein-1, c-Jun N-terminal kinase, p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), p44/p42 MAPK, and Akt, inhibits expression of antiapoptotic gene products, and enhances apoptosis through cytochrome c release and caspase activation in human myeloid cells:”

Following an internal investigation, the article referenced above has been found to contain inappropriate image manipulation in Figure 5A. In addition, the beta-actin loading controls shown in Figure 4A and B are identical, although they are presented as separate blots. Molecular Pharmacology has retracted this article.

The 2008 paper has been cited 27 times, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

And here’s the notice for “A novel pentamethoxyflavone down-regulates tumor cell survival and proliferative and angiogenic gene products through inhibition of IκB kinase activation and sensitizes tumor cells to apoptosis by cytokines and chemotherapeutic agents:”

Following an internal investigation, Figures 1 and 3 of the article referenced above have been found to contain unacceptable image manipulation. Molecular Pharmacology has retracted this article.

The 2011 paper has been cited five times.

Aggarwal is now up to nine retractions, six corrections, two unexplained withdrawals, and two Expressions of Concern.

Aggarwal has been dogged by allegations of misconduct for years, such as on one blog that lists multiple papers.

Interestingly enough, Aggarwal’s name tops the Pharmacology and Toxicology section of Thomson Reuters Web of Science’s 2015 list of The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds (see p. 89). Seven of Aggarwal’s papers have each been cited at least 1,000 times, and the list is presented alphabetically.

Earlier this year, a statement from MD Anderson told us he had retired:

MD Anderson Cancer Center is committed to the highest standards of scientific integrity. Any scientific work that does not adhere to the highest standards of scientific integrity is not acceptable. MD Anderson also supports organizations and journals, like Biochemical Pharmacology, when questions of scientific integrity have been raised and they have determined that steps must be taken to correct the scientific record and ensure scientific integrity.

Contacted today, the institution referred us to his lawyer:

Bharat B. Aggarwal, Ph.D., is no longer employed at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. In furtherance of our institutional policies and federal law, MD Anderson does not comment on these sorts of inquiries. However, questions regarding Dr. Aggarwal may be directed to his attorney, Paul S. Thaler at Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC, per his request.

Aggarwal is now apparently the founding director of the Anti-inflammation Research Institute in San Diego. We did a search for the facility, but were unable to find a website.

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12 thoughts on “Highly cited cancer researcher logs 8th, 9th retractions”

  1. How many Federal dollars did he receive based on fraudulent work ?
    Note, no penalty.
    There has to be a better way to send the message that this behavior brings with it serious consequences. A similar case at Iowa State would have also received a benign penalty if Senator Grassley had not intervened. He was then sentenced to 5 years in prison and Iowa State fined big bucks.

    Don

  2. Aggarwal’s name tops the Pharmacology and Toxicology section of Thomson Reuters Web of Science’s 2015 list of The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds

    Nothing says that the influence has to be beneficial. Misdirecting researchers along blind alleys is a kind of influence.

  3. 2016 retraction 2012 paper.

    J Biol Chem. 2012 Jan 2;287(1):245-56. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.274613. Epub 2011 Nov 7.
    3-Formylchromone interacts with cysteine 38 in p65 protein and with cysteine 179 in IκBα kinase, leading to down-regulation of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB)-regulated gene products and sensitization of tumor cells.
    Yadav VR1, Prasad S, Gupta SC, Sung B, Phatak SS, Zhang S, Aggarwal BB.
    Author information
    1Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

    2016 retraction notice.
    http://www.jbc.org/content/291/32/16926

    This article has been retracted by the publisher. An investigation at MD Anderson determined that images were used to represent different experimental conditions. Specifically, the IKKα immunoblot from Fig. 2G was flipped horizontally and reused as the IKKβ immunoblot in Fig. 2H, and the IKKβ immunoblot in Fig. 2G was flipped horizontally and reused as the IKKα immunoblot in Fig. 2H.

    © 2016 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.

  4. 2016 retraction 2011 paper.

    J Biol Chem. 2011 Jan 14;286(2):1134-46. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.191379. Epub 2010 Nov 15.
    Nimbolide sensitizes human colon cancer cells to TRAIL through reactive oxygen species- and ERK-dependent up-regulation of death receptors, p53, and Bax.
    Gupta SC1, Reuter S, Phromnoi K, Park B, Hema PS, Nair M, Aggarwal BB.
    Author information
    1Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.

    2016 retraction.
    http://www.jbc.org/content/291/32/16925
    This article has been retracted by the publisher. An investigation at MD Anderson determined that the image of medium control and the image of DR4+DR5 siRNA treated with TRAIL in Fig. 3B were reused.

    © 2016 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.

  5. 2016 retraction 2011 paper.

    J Biol Chem. 2011 Feb 18;286(7):5546-57. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.183699. Epub 2010 Dec 14.
    Ursolic acid, a pentacyclin triterpene, potentiates TRAIL-induced apoptosis through p53-independent up-regulation of death receptors: evidence for the role of reactive oxygen species and JNK.
    Prasad S1, Yadav VR, Kannappan R, Aggarwal BB.
    Author information
    1Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.

    2016 retraction.
    http://www.jbc.org/content/291/32/16924

  6. 2016 retraction 2010 paper.

    J Biol Chem. 2010 Nov 12;285(46):35418-27. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.172767. Epub 2010 Sep 13.
    Gossypol induces death receptor-5 through activation of the ROS-ERK-CHOP pathway and sensitizes colon cancer cells to TRAIL.
    Sung B1, Ravindran J, Prasad S, Pandey MK, Aggarwal BB.
    Author information
    1Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.

    2016 retraction.
    http://www.jbc.org/content/291/32/16923

  7. 2016 retraction 2010 papeer.

    J Biol Chem. 2010 Oct 22;285(43):33520-8. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.158378. Epub 2010 Aug 18.
    γ-Tocotrienol but not γ-tocopherol blocks STAT3 cell signaling pathway through induction of protein-tyrosine phosphatase SHP-1 and sensitizes tumor cells to chemotherapeutic agents.
    Kannappan R1, Yadav VR, Aggarwal BB.
    Author information
    1Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.

    2016 retraction.
    http://www.jbc.org/content/291/32/16922

  8. 2016 retraction 2010 paper.
    J Biol Chem. 2010 Aug 27;285(35):26987-97. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.121061. Epub 2010 Jun 23.
    Crotepoxide chemosensitizes tumor cells through inhibition of expression of proliferation, invasion, and angiogenic proteins linked to proinflammatory pathway.
    Prasad S1, Yadav VR, Sundaram C, Reuter S, Hema PS, Nair MS, Chaturvedi MM, Aggarwal BB.
    Author information
    1Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.

    2016 retraction.
    http://www.jbc.org/content/291/32/16921

  9. 2016 retraction 2010 aper.

    J Biol Chem. 2010 Apr 9;285(15):11498-507. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.090209. Epub 2010 Feb 12.
    Celastrol, a triterpene, enhances TRAIL-induced apoptosis through the down-regulation of cell survival proteins and up-regulation of death receptors.
    Sung B1, Park B, Yadav VR, Aggarwal BB.
    Author information
    1Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.

    2016 retraction.
    http://www.jbc.org/content/291/32/16920

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