Following investigation, U Ottawa lab retracting four papers in the Journal of Biological Chemistry
According to an email from a university official obtained by Retraction Watch, a university investigative committee had “found substance to the allegations,” although it claimed it could not disclose details “due to their confidentiality.” The university requested that the JBC withdraw a November 2005 paper, and left it to the journal to ”determine whether the other articles should also be withdrawn or if they can be corrected. ” And they took the issue to the agency that funded the work:
The University has also informed the CIHR of its recommendations and actions, in accordance with the Agency’s Ethics and Integrity Guidelines.
The four papers, from Ashok Kumar’s lab, share
three two authors: Kumar , Jyoti Mishra, and Sasmita Mishra. The Mishras — Sasmita and her husband Jyoti, who is an author on three of the papers — since relocated to the University of Georgia.
A source familiar with the case told us that Sasmita Mishra, the first author on two of the papers, had manipulated gels “to make them look better — in her opinion — for publication.”
When the image-shopping came to light, Kumar’s lab provided backup data for the affected experiments, or, when such data were no available, conducted the studies again. In the end, our source said
all the data has either been substantiated by original work or by another person.
The Mishras, who are husband and wife, had left Ottawa for Georgia by the time the inquiry began. According to our source, the internal investigation produced no penalties, although it did lead to a call for more explicit training regarding the proper handling of images.
The papers are as follows:
- “Distinct Role of Calmodulin and Calmodulin-dependent Protein Kinase-II in Lipopolysaccharide and Tumor Necrosis Factor-α-mediated Suppression of Apoptosis and Antiapoptotic c-IAP2 Gene Expression in Human Monocytic Cells” Sasmita Mishra, Jyoti P. Mishra, Katrina Gee, Dan C. McManus, Eric C. LaCasse, and Ashok Kumar J. Biol. Chem. 2005 280: 37536-37546. First Published on September 9, 2005, doi:10.1074/jbc.M504971200 (cited 22 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge)
- “Activation of JNK-dependent Pathway Is Required for HIV Viral Protein R-induced Apoptosis in Human Monocytic Cells: INVOLVEMENT OF ANTIAPOPTOTIC BCL2 AND c-IAP1 GENES” Sasmita Mishra, Jyoti P. Mishra, and Ashok Kumar J. Biol. Chem. 2007 282: 4288-4300. First Published on December 11, 2006, doi:10.1074/jbc.M608307200 (cited 16 times)
- “Cyclosporin A and FK506 Inhibit IL-12p40 Production through the Calmodulin/Calmodulin-dependent Protein Kinase-activated Phosphoinositide 3-Kinase in Lipopolysaccharide-stimulated Human Monocytic Cells” Wei Ma, Sasmita Mishra, Katrina Gee, Jyoti P. Mishra, Devki Nandan, Neil E. Reiner,Jonathan B. Angel, and Ashok Kumar J. Biol. Chem. 2007 282: 13351-13362. First Published on March 8, 2007, doi:10.1074/jbc.M611522200 (cited 18 times)
- “HIV-1 Nef Inhibits Lipopolysaccharide-induced IL-12p40 Expression by Inhibiting JNK-activated NFκB in Human Monocytic Cells” Wei Ma, Sasmita Mishra, Niranjala Gajanayaka, Jonathan B. Angel, and Ashok Kumar J. Biol. Chem. 2009 284: 7578-7587. First Published on November 19, 2008, doi:10.1074/jbc.M710013200 (cited 3 times)
The second paper was already the subject of a correction this past August:
Fig. 3A (upper right panel) shows an alteration of a lane (10 μm PD98059) that was not detected at the time of manuscript submission and that is contrary to the Journal of Biological Chemistry guidelines. Herein, we provide an alternative figure that shows that the ERK inhibitor PD98059 inhibited Vpr-(52–96)-induced ERK activation in a dose-dependent manner. THP-1 cells were treated with the indicated concentrations of PD98059 for 4 h, followed by stimulation with 1.5 μm Vpr-(52–96) peptide for another 2 h. The legend of this figure remains unchanged. The data support the published observations and therefore do not impact the interpretation of this figure or the central conclusion of this article.
We’ve tried to reach Kumar, the University of Ottawa, and the Mishras for comment, and will update with anything we hear back.
Update, 7 a.m. Eastern, 12/5/11: Kumar tells us by email:
The university conducted an in-depth investigation into this issue. It concluded that one of my student misrepresented some of the figures. As per the report, these misrepresentations did not impact the interpretation of the figures or the manuscript. Moreover, there was no issue of reproducibility of data as the originals/alternate originals and the reproduced data were provided to the committee. However, in accordance with the journal guidelines, we have withdrawn these papers.
Update, 5 p.m. Eastern, 12/11/11: The paragraph beginning “The four papers…” has been corrected to reflect the fact that Jyoti Mishra is only on three of the papers.
Update, 8:30 a.m. Eastern, 12/12/11: We heard back from Sasmita Mishra, who said she had been traveling for two weeks and didn’t often check her University of Georgia email because she has left that institution:
Some clarification for the withdrawal of JBC papers.
To make it clear, I am only the first author of two papers. I do not take any responsibility for misrepresented figures of other two papers (first author-Wei Ma), because I was not involved in making any figures in those papers. I conducted some experiments; however, they were not included in any of the misrepresented figures.
I said in clarification to the university that I did a high level of contrast to some of the figures (me as first author). I would like to clarify that I did not manipulate the gel what your report says. I handed in all of my original data to Dr. Kumar before I left. He showed the data to the committee. I agree some of the figures appear to be manipulated; however, I have no idea who did it. My data were sent to many different people for reviewing and I normally get it from Dr. Kumar’s computer after correction and save in my computer. I did not pay attention that it was not my original data, because they look similar. With that much volume of figures, it is hard to check everything in 200% magnification, if anything is wrong. No one including Dr. Kumar pointed it out about those misrepresented figures which could have been fixed before submission to JBC.
My 2005 first-authored JBC paper where Katrina Gee is one of the authors did not contribute anything except giving fine tune to my figures.
I saw the updated page today, not sure what does it mean, just striking Jyoti Mishra’s name instead of deleting his name from the page. I am glad you paid attention and did it. That information was completely wrong. Jyoti Mishra is the second author of two papers and fourth author of third paper. Why his name is highlighted in the first page? He is not responsible for any of these figures. How about the first author of other two papers, nothing mentioned about her name (Wei Ma). I do not take any responsibility. I clarified to University about all of my first authored-paper figures, but not for her (Wei Ma) papers. Based on Dr. Kumar’s statement, it looks like I misrepresented figures in all of the papers. That statement is giving wrong information.
In scientific publication, all the authors contribute and publish. I do not think it matters if Jyoti Mishra is my husband or not. In my opinion, it does not look good to mention about my relationship with Jyoti Mishra in scientific issues.
Jyoti Mishra has also left a comment.