Heart cell researcher admits to falsifying and fabricating data

Ricky Malhotra, PhD, admitted that he committed research misconduct while working at the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago, according to a report from the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Retraction Watch website reported that Malhotra studied heart cells and that he “claimed to have conducted 74 experiments that never happened, and falsified well over 100 Western blots.”

The ORI found that Malhotra falsified and/or fabricated data in seven presentations, three National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant applications, one NIH grant progress report, one publication and one image file.

The report said that Malhotra “reused and falsely relabeled Western blot gel images, falsified the related densitometry measurements based on the falsified Western blots, and falsified and/or fabricated data for experiments that were not performed.”

Malhotra was a research assistant professor in the department of internal medicine at the University of Michigan from 2005 to 2006 and a research assistant professor in the department of surgery at the University of Chicago from 2007 to 2011.

The ORI said Malhotra had signed a voluntary settlement agreement with the organization on May 6. He agreed he had no intention to apply for or engage in U.S. Public Health Service (PHS)-sponsored research. If he does apply for or receive PHS support within five years, he agreed to have his research supervised for 10 years.

In addition, he agreed to retract a paper that appeared in the Journal of Biological Chemistry in 2010.