One more scientist of Indian origin found to have faked data in the US

Nitin Aggarwal – a researcher in cardiology – apparently falsified and invented data. Once again a scientist of Indian origin caught faking data. Perhaps it’s the peer pressure – but it does make for depressing reading.

This is scientific fraud and  – once again – I wonder why scientists and scientific bodies should not be held liable and accountable for their “product” which is whatever they publish.

Maybe it is time to sell my shares in BMS.

Retraction Watch reports:

Nitin Aggarwal, formerly of the Medical College of Wisconsin, faked data in his PhD thesis, grant applications to the NIH and American Heart Association, and in two papers, according to new findings by the Office of Research Integrity.

(The case would have apparently first been published in the Federal Register on October 2, except for the government shutdown.)

Here were their findings:

…the Respondent engaged in research misconduct by falsifying and/or fabricating PHS-supported data in six (6) figures that were included in the following two (2) publications, one (1) grant application to the American Heart Association (AHA), one (1) grant application to NIH, and the Respondent’s Ph.D. thesis:

  • Aggarwal, N.T., Principal Investigator (P.I.), National Scientist Development grant application to the American Heart Association No. 11SDG7650072, “Sulfonylurea rReceptor-2 splice variant and mitochondrial mechanisms for cardioprotection and arrhythmia” (hereafter the “AHA grant application”).
  • K99 HL113518-01, “Mitochondrial ATP-sensitive K-channels and pharmacological approaches for cardioprotection,” Aggarwal, Nitin, Ph.D., P.I.
  • Aggarwal, N.T. “Endothelial 15-lipoxygenase regulates vasorelaxation and blood pressure in rabbits in normal and pathological condictions.” A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Biomedical Science of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2008 (hereafter the “thesis”).


Aggarwal won a $1,000 award for his dissertation in 2009. According to his LinkedIn profile and a recent speaker announcement, he’s now working at Bristol Myers-Squibb. We’ve tried to reach BMS for comment, along with the Medical College of Wisconsin, and will update with anything we learn.

Update, 6 p.m. Eastern, 10/17/13: The Medical College of Wisconsin tells us they have no comment on the ORI’s findings.


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One Response to “One more scientist of Indian origin found to have faked data in the US”

  1. Xi Han Wang Says:

    (Note! One name edited out. The Baltimore case is a cause celebre and dates back to 1986 and I am not sure if the case history is still relevant to the ORI of today. — ktwop)

    Investigating Research Integrity? Better start by investigating the Office of Research Integrity itself!

    It is ironic that the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) is regarded as a stronghold of the ethical standards in academic research. For those who have closely examined trial proceedings involving the ORI nothing is further from the truth. ORI surely catches some of the bad science that appears to be rampant, but its incompetence and abusive behavior often pass unnoticed to the general public. If you examine closely the notorious Baltimore-Imanishi-Kari case you will see exactly what I am talking about.

    The ORI has very little oversight and operates pretty much like in the margins of democratic transparency. Unfortunately, its incompetence becomes apparent only in cases where their proceedings are brought to light, like in the Baltimore-Imanishi-Kari case. The fact that ORI lacked expertise to properly assess that case did not deter the ORI from performing a “statistical analysis” of the data under scrutiny and concluding (incorrectly) that Dr. Imanishi-Kari had committed fraud. Nothing more dangerous than drawing conclusions from statistics on data when you don’t know what the data means! But ORI did not treat their sloppy findings with caution (after all, who cares about destroying a human being?). To justify their existence as the ethics rottweiler, the ORI invested heavily on Imanishi-Kari downfall, they bullied the institution where she was working (after all, nobody wants to lose NIH financial support), and trashed a good 5-6 years of her life. When she brought the right experts to trial, she won her case with flying colors, revealing the venality and incompetence of the ORI. She could have gotten tens of millions from NIH but chose not to sue, as far as I know.

    Ethical standards? Beware of people who talk too much about ethics! Case in point: A former ORI director now offers his consultancy services to institutions that investigate misconduct and must report to ORI, so the institutions can be more effective at neutralizing witnesses and destroy reputations to justify the role of ORI in society. Furthermore, ORI even recommends him as advisor to the institution. Any conflict of interest here?

    It is true that ORI has a job that few would enjoy. It is hard to imagine a successful scientist working at ORI. Yet, its role is viewed as important to the taxpayer. But this perception will quickly change, especially as ORI’s actions are brought to light and Congress becomes more and more aware of their tactics. Bring to light the ORI proceedings, and the agency disintegrates in thin air.

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