Indian researcher's PhD revoked by NTU

11/3/2017 5:14:18 PM
written By : Team India Se Print

Doctoring research data is a serious offence. Recently, Sabeera Bonala, an Indian former Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) researcher who had received a doctorate from NTU in 2013, paid a huge price after the university revoked her PhD.

The news first reported by Retraction Watch said that three papers that listed Bonala as first author — two in The Journal of Biological Chemistry and one in Molecular Endocrinology — were pulled last year. The research was focused on myostatin – a protein that regulates muscle growth and can help tackle obesity.

This new development comes after the NTU revoked the PhD of a Harvard research fellow, Sudarsana Reddy Lokkireddy, last year. Consequently, he had to give up his fellowship at the US university. Two other co-authors, Ravi Kambadur and his wife Mridula Sharma, were also punished. Kambadur was dismissed from his joint appointments at NTU and  A*STAR after being found to be “wilfully negligent in the direction of the group”. Sharma, who was associate professor at the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, also left her job.

Tony Mayer, a research integrity officer at NTU, was quoted as saying, “This has been a lengthy and complex investigation involving not only NTU but also A*STAR and NUS whose cooperation in the inquiry was essential and we are grateful to both institutions for their help.

“It demonstrates NTU’s (and Singapore’s) commitment to the highest standards of research best practice and also shows that neither Singapore nor NTU will tolerate any departures from this norm. PhDs once awarded are only revoked in the most serious cases and this again demonstrates that NTU’s policy of zero tolerance was appropriate and necessary in this case.”

In all, NTU retracted six research papers, including three mentioned by Bonala. While these papers involved 23 authors, only four were punished. When India Se contacted NTU and NUS with a set of questions on this development, it did not elicit any response. We asked them why only four of the 23 were punished and whether students applying for higher degree courses to these universities would be subjected to stringent screening procedures.

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