Very fishy: Dismissed from Cambridge, PhD from Imperial, misconduct at UCL, employed at UEL

The latest revelations about the chequered career of Jatinder Ahluwalia being dismissed from Cambridge for falsifying data seems like a film script for Leonardo DiCaprio and another Catch Me If You Can movie.

At Cambridge Dr M.D. Brand, Reader in Cellular Biochemistry was his advisor and in a letter dated November 10, 1997, wrote:

…I am no longer prepared to act as PhD supervisor for Jatinder Ahluwalia, and…recommend that he removed from the Board’s list of graduate students because I believe he has been inventing experimental results.

Brand sent Ahluwalia a copy of his letter, and offered again to let him repeat his experiments with witnesses. Ahluwalia evidently didn’t take advantage of that offer. He lost his studentship funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council at the end of 1997, and was dismissed from the graduate studies program
on February 18, 1998.

While the actions at Cambridge and UCL seem to restore some faith in academic integrity some questions arise about his stint at Imperial College where he received his PhD and at the University of East London where he is currently employed as Senior Lecturer & Programme leader in Pharmacology but is writing papers about plagiarism.

He writes on the UEL site:

I undertook my PhD training at Imperial College, Chelsea & Westminster Hospital and Novartis London, studying the mechanisms by which cannabinoid (CB1) and vanilloid (VR1) receptors regulate nociceptive transmission at pre-synaptic nerve terminals.

I was based in Novartis (London) throughout my doctoral studies.

The question arises as to whether Imperial College were aware of his shenanigans at Cambridge. His apparent employment or  funding by Novartis during his PhD also raises questions about whether Novartis were aware of his dismissal from Cambridge and even about his discoveries for (or sponsored by) Novartis:

During my first year, we discovered that CB1 and VR1 receptors are expressed on pre-synaptic nerve terminals (Ahluwalia et al. Neuroscience 100, 685-688, 2000; Ahluwalia et al. Neuroscience 110, 747-753, 2002). The final year of my PhD was spent investigating the effect of the endocannabinoid anandamide on pre-synaptic neurotransmitter release from cultured dorsal root ganglion neurons  (Ahluwalia et al. Journal of Neurochemistry, 84, 585-591, 2003; Ahluwalia et al. EJN, 17, 1-8, 2003).

His paper on plagiarism while at UEL also has some obvious commercial implications.

Imperial College, UEL and Novartis ought to be worried and perhaps so also should be the editors of Neuroscience and the Journal of Neurochemistry.


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