This is a follow up to a press note released by NCBS on July 6th. We have received a number of requests for further clarifications. To this end, NCBS is issuing a press statement in response to certain points which may have been misconstrued or reported erroneously. The Director of TIFR has also issued a press statement about this matter, reproduced below.
1. Press Release from the Director of TIFR
Recently, allegations of academic malpractice have been levelled in the Press and social media against TIFR-NCBS faculty member Dr. Arati Ramesh. The retraction of the Nature Chemical Biology paper with Dr. Ramesh as the senior author took place after a full inquiry, as required by the NCBS Research Misconduct policies, into the data trail related to images in the Nature Chemical Biology paper that showed evidence of manipulation. The NCBS Management Board was informed about this investigation. The committee's final report is currently under review by the TIFR Academic Ethics Committee, who will determine if further investigation and/or action are warranted. TIFR is and always will remain committed to the highest standards of academic integrity.
2. A committee, chaired by a senior scientist independent of the Bangalore Life Sciences Cluster (NCBS, InStem and C-CAMP), was constituted to examine concerns about data manipulation in the Nature Chemical Biology paper with Dr. Arati Ramesh as senior author. The committee’s specific mandate was to investigate the data trail related to images in this paper. The committee had access to data from multiple sources, both from the authors and directly from the analytic instruments. Based on this corpus of data, they were able to draw conclusions about where and how manipulation had occurred.
3. During the course of the committee’s interviews with the paper’s authors and other Ramesh laboratory members, statements regarding practices in the Ramesh laboratory were documented. All statements and emails submitted to the committee during the course of the investigation were taken into consideration while formulating the committee’s recommendations. The committee’s final report, submitted to the NCBS Director on 24 Nov, 2020, lists specific topics that may require further investigation. This report is with the TIFR Academic Ethics Committee, who will determine if further steps are required.
4. After the committee’s final report had been submitted, other emails were received by the NCBS Director from one of the paper’s authors, containing allegations of pressure, unprofessional conduct, and a stressful work environment at the Ramesh laboratory. NCBS takes harassment allegations very seriously and does NOT condone abusive behaviour of any form on our campus. We are following due process in investigating these allegations. We are working closely with the Ramesh laboratory, and re-evaluating our campus-wide research integrity processes to ensure similar events do not recur at NCBS.
5. Where we are now: The TIFR Academic Ethics Committee is evaluating the investigative committee’s report before reaching a final conclusion. We must respect the confidentiality of the proceedings while the report is under consideration, and wait for a final outcome.