A year after a federal misconduct finding, a cancer researcher loses a paper

Sudhakar Yakkanti

A cancer specialist formerly affiliated with Boys Town National Research Hospital in Nebraska who was found to have committed misconduct in nearly 20 grant applications and papers has lost an article in Scientific Reports — a year after his misconduct case became public. 

According to the journal, which, to its credit, flagged the paper with an editor’s note last February, the delay stemmed from efforts to verify information that was not part of the official inquiry. 

The article, “Type IV collagen α1-chain noncollagenous domain blocks MMP-2 activation both in-vitro and in-vivo,” was written by a group led by Yakkanti Akul Sudhakar, whose name — last, at least — might be familiar to RW readers. 

In November 2019, Sudhakar — who also has published as Sudhakar Yakkanti and Akulapalli Sudhakar — was sanctioned by the U.S. Office of Research Integrity for: 

intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly falsified and/or fabricated figures in the following eight (8) unfunded NIH grant applications, one (1) funded NIH grant application, seven (7) publications, and two (2) unpublished manuscripts 

A source close to the inquiry told us at the time that Sudhakar, who received a five-year funding ban as part of his penalty, had a portfolio of images that: 

he reused over and over again to represent different experiments throughout his publishing career. The images were so obviously just reused — sometimes cropped, sometimes rotated — that for the most part there wasn’t a great amount of forensic work needed.

According to the new retraction notice

An investigation by the US Office of Research Integrity (ORI) [1] has concluded that the protein band arresten (α1(IV)NC1) in Figure 3C (lanes 3–6) was reused in the grant applications R01 CA143128-04 and R01 EY024967-01 to represent a different set of experiments. The ORI was unable to determine which, if any, of these data are correct. The authors have not been able to provide any of the requested original data for this study. The Editors no longer have confidence in the integrity of the data presented in this article.

Yakkanti Akul Sudhakar & Smita C. Pawar disagree with the retraction. The Editors were not able to obtain a current email address for Raj Kumar Verma.

We wondered why the journal took a year to pull the paper after the ORI report became public. Richard White,  the chief editor of Scientific Reports, told us: 

As soon as we became aware of concerns raised by ORI, we commenced investigation of this paper and in February 2020 we placed an Editor’s Note on the paper to make readers aware that concerns had been raised. It took some time to complete the investigation of the paper as we needed to obtain information beyond that included in the ORI report to ensure our investigation was appropriately rigorous.  Once this was obtained, we had the necessary information to conclude our investigation and the paper was retracted.

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One thought on “A year after a federal misconduct finding, a cancer researcher loses a paper”

  1. Thanks for enlightenment. University of nebraska must blacklist their passports from entering into state and private funded American Universities. Fake supervisors are cheating and playing with the lives of research scholars in India. Bann them completely.

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