USC-Children’s Hospital Los Angeles researcher out following misconduct probe

Prasadarao Nemani

An infectious diseases researcher found by a federal U.S. watchdog to have “recklessly” faked data in grants worth millions left his job as the investigation was coming to a close, Retraction Watch has learned.

As we reported last week, Prasadarao Nemani, of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and the University of Southern California (USC), “engaged in research misconduct by recklessly including falsified and/or fabricated data” in a 2009 paperretracted in 2018 — and four NIH grant applications, according to the U.S. Office of Research Integrity.

Earlier this week, in a statement provided to Retraction Watch, CHLA said that he was no longer with the hospital or with USC:

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is committed to performing research that meets the standards of the scientific community and strives to make research results available in a way that permits scientific colleagues around the world to reproduce our results and examine our data, methodologies, hypotheses, and conclusions. When questions are raised, we take them very seriously and, as we have done here, take all appropriate steps, including correcting the research record if appropriate.

Upon learning of the allegations regarding Dr. Nemani, who was a non-tenured faculty member at the Keck School of Medicine of USC conducting research as an investigator at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, CHLA launched a thorough investigation and reported its findings to the Office of Research Integrity (ORI). The ORI agreed with the hospital’s investigatory findings and informed CHLA of its settlement agreement with Dr. Nemani, commending the hospital for its role in the investigation process.

CHLA can confirm that Dr. Nemani was not reappointed to the Keck School of Medicine of USC, effective July 1, 2020. His research activities at CHLA have ceased.

Nemani, who has received more than $4.2 million in NIH funding since 2010, agreed to have his research supervised for a period of four years.

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14 thoughts on “USC-Children’s Hospital Los Angeles researcher out following misconduct probe”

  1. “Nemani, who has received more than $4.2 million in NIH funding since 2010, agreed to have his research supervised for a period of four years.”

    Wow. So as a researcher you can lie, cheat, and steal $4.2 million in taxpayer money and then when caught faking your data and grant applications only get a punishment of “research supervised for a period of four years”. What a racket. How do I sign up for that.

  2. Good that he’s gone from USC.

    But why is he not being sued for fraud by the government on behalf of taxpayers? He needs to repay the money he collected through his fraud and he should pay a penalty as well just like any wayward corporation would that cheats the public.

    1. He needs to repay the money he collected

      which is only a fraction, perhaps half, of the $4.2 million figure. Remember that his institution takes a huge fraction for overhead, and that the grant also likely paid for various staff members, supplies, and so on, not all of which necessarily supported his frauds, and some of which may even have produced worthwhile science (which should of course be audited now).

      Good luck at getting back the overhead from USC!

  3. Stop complaining! He is completely justified to trick stupid believers in science. He was doing Godly work. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha you are 😉😉😉😉😉😉😉😉

  4. He is absolutely innocent. Demons forced him into it while he was dreaming!!!!!! Why can’t you see that…clear as a sunny day in China.

  5. I know if I suggest that if he is a recently naturalized citizen, or on a green card, that he be deported to his country of origin I would be called a racist…..

  6. What does it tell us about ourselves when so many people want to gripe about government funding oversight, yet no one really talks about simple, tangible steps the community could take to prevent misconduct?

    1. Meaning, asking faculty to look carefully over primary data collection by grad students and post-docs? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!!!!!

      1. No, by putting into play policies that increase the cost to coauthors not doing Paying attention to what they put their names on. For idea, example: PubMed (nlm,nih) search results display A nifty Green histogram showing temporal distribution of an author’s publications (as an easy way to narrow in on uncertain searches). Why not have NLM display histogram entries that have been retracted in red, So they stand out, thus revealing in simple graphical way multipleS that might warn of a pattern?

        Second, PPPR (PubPeer) became central in identifying Problem images simply because coauthors were never incentivized to look seriously at problems that were apparent to others. For Ex, How many journals ask coauthors sign prenupt agreements (auto-retract button in no primary data found to exist to address a question)?

        Both might also incentivize institutions to get serious about data retention means and policies. Simple, practical steps are neither rocket-(nor ‘haha’-) science, and might go a long way in countering the risky short cuts people take when conducting research in the digital age.

        1. These ideas may help, but will only catch a small percentage of fraud. Most of the fraud is now spotted in poorly fabricated, fake western blots, and only a small fraction of bioscience data is in this form. This suggests to me that what we are seeing is only the tip of the fraud iceberg. Some direct evidence of this is seen with the bioscience reproducibility project, where only a small fraction of academic data is reproduced by other investigators assigned to reproduce original work. Ask people in industry if they can trust most of recent bioscience research coming out of academia and they will just laugh at you.

          This problem will never go away until data generators (grad students and post docs) are paid reasonably well and have good job security, along the lines of a faculty member. As it stands, the job of data generation (at least in the US) is too crappy and so the temptation to cheat to get out of it is too strong.

          Also, you need extremely honest people with no ambition to do the work, who are satisfied with being relatively poor, and who can accept seeing their peers with similar or less education get much further (ie make more money) in their career. The problem is when you match ambitious people to work that requires a lot of luck (needed for positive interesting results) is a sure formula for fraud.

          In my (controversial) opinion, there are some cultures in the world that are more competitive and ambitious in nature than others, and so you have to be skeptical of the science coming out of these cultures in general.

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