CSO loses position at DNA sequencing company after admitting fraud

pharmafile | February 23, 2017 | News story | Medical Communications Karmagenes 

Pranav Ullal, formerly of Chief Scientific officer of Karmagenes, has been removed from his position after a paper he published during his post doctorate study was found to be fraudulent. The fabrication of data to support his paper was only discovered when Sophie Martin, a researcher at the University of Lausanne, tested her former student’s data as part of research within her own paper.

Martin found that she was unable to replicate the results obtained by Ullal and published within The Journal of Cell Biology. On questioning Ullal, Martin discovered that the data had been fabricated in support of Ullal’s original paper and thus rendered her own research, based upon his, to be invalid.

“As you will appreciate, I have been extremely shocked and distressed by this discovery. Although the data presented in the JCB paper involved several other authors, whose work is not put in doubt, the only possible course of action was to retract the paper”, commented Martin to Retraction Watch.

Ullal had been working as CSO of Karmagenes, a company that sequences DNA to ‘discover’ an individual’s personality. The questionable basis of this commercial offering is a side-issue to the issue of fraudulence. The company responded by initially keeping Ullal as a ‘Scientific Narrator’ at the company’s blog, before even this position was withdrawn after the scandal began to hit headlines.

“At Karmagenes, we are very recently aware of the fabrication regarding Fig. 3, C (bottom right) and D (far right) of the paper ”The DYRK-family kinase Pom1 phosphorylates the F-BAR Cdc15 to prevent division at cell poles” and the subsequent retraction published in February 16 2017. We immediately had an internal discussion and we have decided that Dr Ullal’s will no longer serve as second CSO at Karmagenes. Dr Ullal is fully aware of the consequences of his Academic misconduct,” Kyriakos Kokkoris, CEO of Karmagenes commented on the dismissal of Ullal.

Ben Hargreaves

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