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 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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