Three foreign talent research scientists working in Singapore are now suspected of scientific fraud in what could be the biggest case here. They were researching in a protein, myostatin, that could fight against obesity and diabetes. Their research were funded by state organisations to the tune of about $10 million.

The trio are Professor Ravi Kambadur, 54, who was with the Nanyang Technological University (NTU); Dr Mridula Sharma, who was associate professor at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine; and former NTU researcher Sudarsanareddy Lokireddy. Two of them have left their posts and another had his PhD revoked while six of their papers have been retratcted.

This research are now scandalised after investigations by NTU showed that laboratory experiments had been falsified.

Dr Sharma is no longer at NUS and Dr Lokireddy has had his PhD from NTU revoked.

Research funded by A*Star and the National Research Foundation (NRF), are now being retracted academic journals. Meanwhile, both funding bodies could not confirm how much money had been pumped into the research.

NRF chief executive Low Teck Seng defended his organisation by saying, “NRF holds a very high expectation with regard to the research that we fund. We do not condone any fraud or flouting of ethics. In my view, the organisations involved acted swiftly and appropriately.”

After earning his PhD from NTU, Lokireddy has been a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School, where he published a paper in a famed academic journal. A Harvard University spokesman did not respond to questions about Dr Lokireddy’s employment status or the integrity of the PNAS paper, but said: “We are fully committed to upholding the highest standards of ethics and to rigorously maintaining the integrity of our research. Any concerns brought to our attention are thoroughly reviewed.”

NTU said that “disciplinary proceedings” are being taken against other researchers, and that Prof Kambadur’s research students will be re-assigned to appropriate supervisors.

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