Head of primate lab with ties to NIH intentionally falsified data in research paper and grant applications

The head of a primate lab in San Antonio, Texas has admitted to falsifying data in a research paper and two grant applications. Deepak Kaushal, director of the Southwest National Primate Research Center at Texas Biomedical Research Institute (Texas Biomed), falsified the figures of treated and untreated primates in a 2020 study.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity, Kaushal was found “intentionally, knowingly and/or recklessly falsifying and fabricating the experimental methodology,” along with misrepresenting the numbers of treated and untreated non-human primates used in his research. He also concocted other specifics in the paper like the number of weekly doses of treatment conducted to treat Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes tuberculosis.

Kaushal also made up information in two National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant applications. One of the applications was submitted in 2019 while the other was in 2020.

However, the primate lab director merely got a slap on the wrist. Texas Biomed President Dr. Larry Schlesinger said Kaushal was disciplined with “the minimum consequences,” describing what happened as “a first-time incident, and to our knowledge, the only time this has happened in Dr. Kaushal’s lab.”

“Dr. Kaushal has received internal consequences, including significant oversight of his lab. Texas Biomed is confident that this will not happen again and that Dr. Kaushal can continue to lead the Southwest National Primate Research Center capably and with integrity,” Schlesinger added.
Kaushal was identified in the paper as being associated with the Texas Primate Research Center and the Tulane National Primate Research Center in Louisiana. His biographies are still registered on websites for both institutions.

The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine issued a retraction of the study last year. In the retraction, the authors stated the study “did not conform to the stated experimental protocol” but that “the conclusions of the article may be correct.”

Texas Biomed tested Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in primates
Interestingly, Texas Biomed was one of the institutes that tested Pfizer’s Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine in primates in 2020.

A research paper on the work, which determined that the vaccine protected macaques against the virus that causes COVID-19, was published by Nature in 2021.

Meanwhile, A spokesperson for the Tulane center said Kaushal led the research in question before leaving the institution. He presented the manuscript after his departure.

“After its publication, an anonymous complaint regarding possible research misconduct was received by Tulane. Tulane cooperated with Dr. Kaushal’s current institution in their inquiry into this matter, in adherence to standards that have been established to ensure the integrity of scientific findings and the public’s trust in those findings,” the spokesperson told the Epoch Times in an email.

Many denounced Kaushal’s employer for keeping him.

Ronald Desrosiers, who manages the New England Primate Research Center, told Science magazine that “any scientist who knowingly and intentionally falsifies data for the purpose of scientific publication and/or receipt of government funding should not be allowed to lead a research institution.”

The Office of Research Integrity disclosed that Kaushal agreed to a settlement agreement to have his research managed for one year starting on July 22. As part of the agreement, a committee of senior faculty members at Texas Biomed will give supervision and direction to Kaushal’s work. The panel must study each application for government grant funds.

Texas Biomed officials said they have “imposed ramifications on the researcher.” Those includes a review of all study data he produces in the next year as he seeks grant funding or publication in peer-reviewed journals.


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