Former Colorado “golden boy” earns three-year ban on Federal funding

The U.S. Office of Research Integrity has announced findings of misconduct against a once-promising pharmaceutical scientist at the University of Colorado.

The ORI says Rajendra Kadam fabricated data on government grants while working on his PhD at UC Denver under the supervision of Uday Kompella. As we reported in 2015 when this case first broke, Kadam was put in charge of a piece of technology that apparently he alone knew how to operate — giving him ample opportunity to cook results without fear of detection.

Under the terms of the ORI finding — which comes nearly four years after the UC inquiry wrapped up — Kadam will be barred from Federal U.S. research funding for three years, beginning November 13, 2018.

Asked why the ORI finding came so long after the university’s report was submitted, the ORI said it had nothing to add to the Federal Register notice about the case, which has yet to appear. [See update.]

Also per the agreement, Kadam will request the retraction of a 2013 paper in Molecular Vision, “Suprachoroidal delivery in a rabbit ex vivo eye model: influence of drug properties, regional differences in delivery, and comparison with intravitreal and intracameral routes,” which he published with Kompella and other co-authors.

By our count, if the article in Molecular Vision is retracted, Kadam will have eight retractions, two expressions of concern and a correction.

A former “golden boy”

In August 2016, following an institutional investigation the previous year, UC Denver revoked Kadam’s degree. The inquiry identified no fewer than 22 instances of fabrication in his thesis:

the committee finds that the thesis is significantly impacted and, as such, cannot be considered to meet the requirements of a doctoral thesis – – in part because his thesis does not contain enough valid information to merit the PhD award. In addition, the Investigation Committee contends that it would not be appropriate to condone such unprofessional behavior by the award of a doctoral degree

Kadam’s propensity for producing positive results — and the praise heaped on him for his findings — led some of his fellow students to dub him the “golden boy:”

The Investigation Committee concluded that his elevated status resulted in him being an author on numerous manuscripts (29 in total) and repeatedly receiving kudos for producing positive data…Other students in the laboratory at the same time are to be commended for not falsifying data and ultimately for bringing forward concerns that led to this investigation.

Kadam left UC Denver and wound up at a Pfizer subsidiary called InnoPharma, where this site lists him as manager of clinical pharmacology. The Pfizer switchboard told us it had a listing for Kadam’s name, but not his telephone number. Kadam did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment on his case.

Update, 2100 UTC, 12/5/18: According to the now-posted Federal Register notice about this case, Kadam

engaged in research misconduct by knowingly and intentionally falsifying and/or fabricating data by manipulating LC-MS/MS peak area data to reduce variability and/or alter statistical significance for twenty-six (26) figures and five (5) tables in his Ph.D. thesis and in the following nine (9) published papers:

  • Drug Metab. Dispos. 41:466-474, 2013 (hereafter referred to as “Drug Metab. Dispos. 2013”). Retracted in: Drug Metab. Dispos. 43(2):234, 2015 Feb.
  • Mol. Pharm. 10:2350-2361, 2013 (hereafter referred to as “Mol. Pharm.2013”). Retracted in: Mol. Pharm. 12(7):2559, 2015 July 6.
  •  Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 52(8):5387-99, 2011 (hereafter referred to as “IOVS 2011”). Retracted in: Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 56(3):1678, 2015 Mar 9.
  • J. Control. Release 172(3):1151-60, 2013 (hereafter referred to as “J. Control. Release 2013”). Retracted in: J. Control. Release 237:186, 2016 Sep 10.
  • Int. J. Pharm. 434: 140-147, 2012 (hereafter referred to as “Int. J. Pharm.2012”). Retracted (no date provided by the journal for the retraction notice).
  • Mol. Pharm. 9:605-614, 2012 (hereafter referred to as “Mol. Pharm. 2012”). Retracted in: Mol. Pharm. 12(7): 2558, 2015 July 6.
  • J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. 332:1107-1120, 2010 (hereafter referred to as “J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. 2010”). Retracted in: J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther.352(2):326, 2015 Feb.
  • Mol. Vis. 19:1198-1210, 2013 (hereafter referred to as “Mol. Vis. 2013”).
  • Curr. Pharm. Biotechnol. 12(2):285-292, 2011 (hereafter referred to as “Curr. Pharm. Biotechnol. 2011”). Erratum in: Curr. Pharm. Biotechnol.17(9):846, 2016 Jun 6.[1]

Specifically, Respondent falsified data included in:

  • Figures 3.10 and 3.11 of respondent’s thesis (also included as Figures 10 and 11 in Drug Metab. Disposal. 2013).

  • Figures 5.2-5.7 of respondent’s thesis.

  • Figures 4.4-4.7 of respondent’s thesis (also included as Figures 4-7 of Mol. Pharm. 2013).

  • Figures 7.4, 7.5, and 7.7 of respondent’s thesis (also included as Figures 1-5, 7, and 8 and summarized in Tables 2 and 3 of IOVS 2011).

  • Figure 6 of J. Control. Release 2013.

  • Figures 6-7 of Mol. Vis. 2013.

  • Figure 3 in Int. J. Pharm. 2012.

  • Figures 3 and 5-7 in Mol. Pharm. 2012.

  • Figure 6C in Curr. Pharm. Biotechnol. 2011.

  • Tables 3-5 and Figures 1-5 in J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. 2010.

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3 thoughts on “Former Colorado “golden boy” earns three-year ban on Federal funding”

    So Ocugen was co-founded by Kompella in 2013 which coincides with the time frame when he and Kadam were publishing the now-retracted papers. And reading between the redactions in the university’s report there seem to be patents that used data from the instrument only Kadam could operate. Makes one wonder if there’s more to this story.

  2. All of this crowd should be banned for life and imprisoned, the university should have to return all money with interest, the company should be seized by the federal government.

    But of course nothing will happen because academics are the high priests of society

  3. The University of Colorado is usually abbreviated as CU, not UC (to avoid confusion with the larger University of California).

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