MIT Bioengineer Accused of Research Misconduct

May 24, 2019

A new paper in mAbs alleges that Ram Sasisekharan, professor of biological engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, claimed two previously discovered antibody therapies as his own. “We looked at exactly two cases, and in both did we find irregularities,” co-author Tillman Gerngross, CEO of the private biotech firm Adimab, told STAT. “To me, if you’re sitting in the kitchen and two fat cockroaches walk across the floor, what’s the chance that there’s only two?” Gerngross and his colleagues base their argument on amino acid sequences not published in Sasisekharan’s papers but obtained through patent information and later cross-checked on GenBank.

Sasisekharan reportedly said that the paper was “inaccurate and slanderous” and that there are, for example, “fundamental differences” between the Zika antibody he and colleagues wrote about last year in Cell and the one another team of researchers shared in Nature in 2016. MIT told STAT that “while federal regulations and MIT policy do not allow us to comment on any particular matter, research integrity at MIT is paramount. MIT has policies and confidential processes in place to assess concerns that might be raised.”

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