Last year, the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) terminated the employment of one of its professors, Ravi Kambadur, at both the university and A*STAR. Explaining the termination NTU said that the professor had been willfully negligent in directing a research group he was leading.
NTU said at that time that another researcher had also come forward and confessed to making up data. NTU did not reveal the researcher’s details then as disciplinary procedures against her were ongoing. NTU has now identified the researcher as Sabeera Bonala. The university said that her PhD, which she was awarded in 2013, has been revoked.
Three papers that list Bonala as first author — two in The Journal of Biological Chemistry and one in Molecular Endocrinology — were pulled last year.
Bonala’s social media accounts have been deactivated. But her Twitter cache suggests that Bonala has returned to India and is now working as the Executive Director of Biostandups. The disgraced researcher is also the co-founder of the outfit which lists its mission as that of “connecting Science, Biotechnology and Healthcare to improve the position and participation of Asia Biotech ecosystem globally through spreading the word. Bridging the gap between academia and Biotech industry to bring 21st century skills and standards to Asia from across the world.”
Ravi Kambadur who was dismissed by NTU last year, holds several qualifications from India, the highest being a PhD (Biochem) from the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.
The institution of higher learning Prof Kambadur graduated from, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGI), had been embroiled in a cheating controversy in the past.
An Indian publication, Tribune reported in 2013 that India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) unearthed a well-organised cheating racket during an MD (medical doctorate) entrance examination at PGI in late 2012. CBI rounded up seven woman and seven men. They were accused of using bluetooth devices and mobile phones to cheat in the examination.
NTU decided to prematurely terminate the professor’s contract after investigations into allegations of malpractice in research, which resulted in three retractions of papers, one withdrawal and two corrections.
The university’s investigations also resulted in NTU revoking a doctorate awarded to one of its post-graduate student Sudarsanreddy Lokireddy, also an Indian national.
NTU’s statement suggests that not only Mr Lokireddy and Prof Kambadur but some of its other researchers too may be implicated and eventually penalised because of the findings of its investigations.