A researcher fired from the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) in 2014 for plagiarizing the work of a Harvard scientist has been barred from receiving Federal U.S. funding for two years.
The sanctions come three years after the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) tried to impose a three-year ban on funding for Rakesh Srivastava, who appealed the move. In September of this year, Department of Health and Human Services administrative law judge Keith Sickendick recommended a two-year sanction.
In his decision, Sickendick noted that there was no evidence that Srivastava had engaged in research misconduct other than in this incident, and that he denied adding the plagiarized passages to the grant application himself. (Srivastava, who had also worked at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, is last author on a 2002 retraction from the Journal of Biological Chemistry for plagiarism, but it is unclear who was responsible.)
ORI tells Retraction Watch that it is “pleased that the ALJ upheld its findings.
An ‘Eminent Scholar’
Srivastava — along with his wife, Sharmila Shankar — joined KUMC in 2009 to great fanfare:
The University of Kansas Cancer Center has recruited two researchers that bring with them a total of $3 million in National Cancer Institute (NCI) funding. These research dollars will help achieve the critical requirement of $11 million in total NCI grant funding needed to apply for designation as a Cancer Center.
Srivastava was also named an “Eminent Scholar.” But in October 2012, the ORI received an allegation that Srivastava had committed plagiarism, and the agency forwarded the allegation to KUMC, whose investigation confirmed, according to court documents, that
Srivastava had plagiarized the work of a Harvard Medical School doctor in an attempt to obtain grant money. The plagiarism was discovered when Dr. Srivastava submitted the plagiarized grant proposal to the National Institute of Health (NIH) after the Harvard Medical School doctor had already submitted her grant proposal to the NIH.
In a June 2012 grant application to NIH, Srivastava had plagiarized an October 2011 grant application by Harvard’s Marcia Haigis.
KUMC told Srivastava on July 3, 2014 that he would be fired. He appealed the decision, but lost. He and Shankar — who was demoted for other reasons, and then had her position eliminated — sued KUMC in February 2016, claiming breach of contract and that their terminations had been retaliation because they had
registered express and repeated expressions of concern to individuals in positions of supervision and/or authority over [their] unlawful 5 activities surrounding the grant funds [they] oversaw, which activities included the improper accounting of funds utilized under the grant(s) at issue.
That suit was ultimately unsuccessful.
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