Nivedita Gupta from the ICMR, who is accused in two papers of “image manipulation, plagiarism”, dismisses the indictment

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In an interview with ThePrint, however, Gupta denied the allegations.

The first article, entitled “Epidemiology and Molecular Typing of Candida Isolates from Burn Patients,” was published in the journal in 2004 Mycopathology.

The second paper is a 2015 review published in the International Journal of Biomedical and Advance Research.

The allegations about the papers were made on PubPeer on Saturday by Elizabeth Bik, a Dutch microbiologist and expert on scientific integrity.

PubPeer is a website where academics can raise concerns about peer-reviewed published articles. Bik also posted her concerns on Twitter.

“Epidemiology and molecular typing of Candida isolates from burn patients”, a two-year study, describes Candida infections in burn patients.

Candida is a type of yeast that can cause fatal infections in patients. The study found that C. albicans – a type of Candida – was the most common fungal infection in burn patients.

In summary, the authors state that “Fingerprint analyzes of all C. albicans strains indicated that the strains collected from different patients were different”.

The DNA fingerprint is a chemical test that shows the genetic makeup of living things. DNA fingerprints are ideally unique. A DNA fingerprint of two organisms can be similar, but not identical

However, Bik pointed out that several columns in the DNA fingerprint analysis images presented in the paper were identical, even though they belonged to different experimental groups.

The paper was co-authored by researchers from the Special Center for Molecular Medicine at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi.

Gupta has denied any manipulation of images in the work. Gupta said the work was done during her PhD student at JNU and at Safdarjung Hospital in 2004 and that she was directed by the head of the Burn and Plastic Surgery Department, RP Narayan. He is also one of the research authors and, together with her PhD Guide at JNU, was privy to all raw data generated in the experiments.

“Some of the columns that repeat themselves correspond to different swab samples taken from different parts of the body of the same patient,” Gupta told ThePrint.

In the second set of columns in the figure, the identical fingerprints are, for example, mouth, wound, tissue biopsies and blood samples from patient number 23.

“This means that in burn patients who are immunocompromised and have caused septicemia, the candida infection has entered the bloodstream, which is why the fingerprints are identical,” said Gupta.

Gupta also said at the time that the paper was groundbreaking as it was one of the first in India to document the spread of Candida infections in the burn ward. The results, she added, have helped save many lives as doctors now know that if patients with septic burn are unresponsive to antibiotics, they must be given antifungal drugs.

‘A review’

About the second paper, Bik said it contained plagiarism from various research papers.

Gupta said the paper was a review made for the Ministry of Health of which she is neither the first nor the corresponding author. “This was not our original research, but a review of existing research. We cite other research in review articles, ”she added.

(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)


Also read: Plagiarism, data manipulation harms India’s research, government body is sounding the alarm



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