Former Alabama chemistry prof faked data in grant applications: Federal watchdog

Surangi (Suranji) Jayawardena

A former chemistry professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville admitted to reusing data in grant applications to the National Institutes of Health while claiming that it came from different experiments, according to the U.S. Office of Research Integrity.

Surangi (Suranji) Jayawardena, who joined the UAH faculty in 2017 following a postdoc at MIT, “engaged in research misconduct by intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly falsifying and/or fabricating data in twelve (12) figure panels” in four grant applications in 2018 and 2019, the ORI said. All of the applications were administratively withdrawn by the agency, one in 2019 and three in 2021.

Jayawardena studied ways to rapidly diagnose tuberculosis, and to deliver drugs to treat various bacteria. She does not appear to have had any papers retracted.

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Former postdoc who admitted to faking data pleads guilty to attempted forgery

George Laliotis

A cancer researcher who admitted to faking data has pleaded guilty to attempted forgery in a case involving letters of recommendation he passed off as coming from his former supervisor. 

Last year, Georgios Laliotis, a former postdoc at The Ohio State University, was charged with forgery for allegedly creating a fake email address with the name of his PI, Philip Tsichlis, and using it to send two letters of recommendation to prospective employers. 

Laliotis was later indicted for identity fraud, forgery, and telecommunications fraud, and pleaded not guilty to each count. 

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Former UPenn prof faked more than 50 figures, says government watchdog

William Armstead

A pharmacy researcher who left the University of Pennsylvania sometime last year has been found guilty of research misconduct in multiple federal grant applications and five published papers, four of which have already been retracted.

As we have reported, William Armstead, who is retired from Penn, was working among other things on the effects of brain injury on piglets – experiments in which the animals were slaughtered. He has had seven papers retracted, and The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in September that he had left the university. Penn did not respond to several requests for comment when we attempted to reach officials there about Armstead’s work. 

According to the U.S. Office of Research Integrity, much of that work appears to have been suspect: 

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Fired OSU postdoc charged with forgery admitted to faking data, feds say

George Laliotis

A cancer researcher who was terminated from one postdoc position and resigned another faked data in multiple papers and grant applications, according to the U.S. Office of Research Integrity. 

ORI found that Yiorgos (Georgios) I. Laliotis “engaged in research misconduct by intentionally and knowingly falsifying and/or fabricating data, methods, results, and conclusions” in three published papers and two applications for grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The findings were based on Laliotis’ own admissions as well as reports from The Ohio State University and Johns Hopkins University. 

As we’ve previously reported, Ohio State terminated Laliotis from his postdoc position in November of 2021, and he apparently resigned from another postdoc position at Johns Hopkins University that same month. Whether both universities employed him at the same time is unclear. 

Laliotis has also been charged in Franklin County, Ohio – home to Ohio State –  with forgery, identity theft, and telecommunications fraud in connection with allegations he created a fake email address in the name of Philip Tsichlis, his PI at Ohio State, and used it to send letters of recommendation purportedly from Tsichlis to prospective employers. Laliotis has pleaded not guilty to all charges. 

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Leading primate researcher demoted after admitting he faked data

Deepak Kaushal

The former director of the Southwest National Primate Research Center at Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio has been removed from the post after the U.S. Office of Research Integrity found he had faked data. 

Last August, ORI found that Deepak Kaushal, who remains a professor at Texas Biomed, “engaged in research misconduct by intentionally, knowingly, and/or recklessly falsifying and fabricating the experimental methodology to demonstrate results obtained under different experimental conditions.” 

Citing Kaushal’s admission, ORI said that he had engaged in research misconduct in work supported by 8 grants from the National Institutes of Health, and faked data in two grant applications and one published paper that has since been retracted

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Former cancer research center director plagiarized and faked data, feds say

Johnny He

The former director of a cancer research center faked data and presented others’ published data and text as his own in four grant applications to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and one research record, according to a U.S. government watchdog. 

Johnny J. He, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFUMS) in Chicago, Ill., “engaged in research misconduct by intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly falsifying, fabricating, and plagiarizing experimental data and text” published by other scientists, the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) said today.

He did not immediately respond to an email or phone call seeking comment. 

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A response to a public records request that raised more questions than it answered

Last August, a U.S. federal research misconduct watchdog announced findings that a longtime researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles named Janina Jiang faked data in 11 grant applications. 

More than a month later, the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) issued a rare correction to its announcement, saying “additional information” from UCLA indicated that one of the grants “did not fund or contain falsified/fabricated data.” The watchdog agency said it would remove the application in question from its findings of research misconduct. 

The grant, UL1 TR000124, helped fund the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) with $57 million from 2012-2015. The listed principal investigator, Steven M. Dubinett, is the interim dean for UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. 

At the time of the correction, we wondered how a report that would have had to be reviewed by multiple officials – and lawyers – at both institutions could include such a mistake, and filed public records requests to find out. 

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Former Yale prof faked data, says Federal watchdog

Carlo Spirli

A liver researcher who worked at Yale University for 15 years faked data in multiple papers and grant applications, according to the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI).

Carlo Spirli, who rose to the rank of associate professor before leaving Yale in 2020, “engaged in research misconduct by knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly falsifying and/or fabricating data” in four published papers, two presentations, and three NIH grant applications, the ORI said in announcing its findings today.

Spirli, according to the ORI:

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US federal research watchdog gets new permanent director

Sheila Garrity

The U.S. Office of Research Integrity, the agency that oversees research misconduct investigations for work funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has a new permanent director after a year and a half without one. 

Sheila Garrity, currently associate vice president for research integrity and research integrity officer at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., will start as ORI’s next permanent director the week of March 26, according to an internal memo from Rachel Levine, the Biden Administration’s Assistant Secretary for Health. 

Garrity previously was director of the division of research integrity at Johns Hopkins University, where she worked for more than 20 years. She also was a founding member and the first president of the Association for Research Integrity Officers (ARIO). 

Levine’s memo described Garrity as “a leader in the fields of research integrity and the responsible conduct of research education,” and asked staff to “join me in welcoming Sheila to the OASH family and in thanking Wanda Jones for the incredible job she has done in running ORI while we conducted our candidate search.”

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Cancer researcher banned from federal funding for faking data in nearly 400 images in 16 grant applications

A former associate professor at Purdue University faked data in two published papers and hundreds of images in 16 grant applications, according to a U.S. government research watchdog. 

Alice C. Chang, whose publications and grants listed her name as Chun-Ju Chang, received nearly $700,000 in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through grant applications that the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) said contained fake data. She will be banned from receiving federal grants for a decade – a more severe sanction than ORI has typically imposed in recent years.

In its findings, ORI said Chang, who was an associate professor of basic medical sciences at Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine:

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