13 June 2023
Retract the “Perspective” containing false allegations of research misconduct lodged against an MIT Professor

To Dr. Janice M. Reichert, Editor-in-Chief, mAbs

We, the undersigned, joined by the need to maintain scientific integrity and prevent abuse of power, are appalled by the unfounded allegations of scientific misconduct made against Professor Ram Sasisekharan in a “Perspective” manuscript (https://doi.org/10.1080/19420862.2019.1611172) published in your journal.

We request that you retract the Perspective because:

i) MIT’s investigation of this case determined that the allegations were unsubstantiated (orgchart.mit.edu/letters/information-research-misc...)

ii) The authors of the Perspective, all from Adimab, had commercial conflicts of interest with the company Visterra, whose founders were trained in the Sasisekharan lab, as both companies developed antibodies. Furthermore, a biotech business reporter at the Wall Street Journal (wsj.com/articles/mit-scientists-biotech-research-i...) was selected to receive a pre-print of the Perspective, highlighting commercial focus and motivations.

iii) The established process of scientific criticism was circumvented. This prevented a fair evaluation by the journals that published the questioned works, inhibited the authors of the original manuscripts from explaining their work, and deprived the scientific community of a balanced perspective. Despite being colleagues at MIT, Professor Wittrup never engaged in a discussion about this science with Professor Sasisekharan before attacking publicly.

iv) Your journal was misled into publishing the piece. As an editorial board member of your journal, Professor Wittrup was able to bypass protocols that would typically allow questioned authors to respond before publication. Notably, he was also able to push acceptance of the paper within two days of submission, precluding any peer review, yet disingenuously formatted the Perspective as a study instead of the opinion piece it was and published it without a rebuttal.

v) Your journal was utilized to attack Professor Sasisekharan. Upon publication, Professor Sasisekharan was silenced from responding to the accusations, implying guilt, because simultaneously MIT received an internal complaint formally raising the same allegations of research misconduct against Professor Sasisekharan. Perspective author Professor Wittrup, also from MIT, would have known of MIT’s Policy 10.1.5.

The publication of the Perspective, which mentioned Professor Sasisekharan only once in footnote 26, set off a media onslaught, with headlines in several top-tier publications (bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/05/22/mit-professor-acc...) indicating Professor Sasisekharan alone was accused of scientific misconduct, overlooking all other researchers. This suggests that Professor Sasisekharan was the target rather than the science.

Journals like yours should provide safe environments where researchers can exchange scientific ideas and move science forward, not obstruct essential research. We, therefore, ask you to retract this Perspective from your journal and implement the ethical safeguards needed to prevent this abuse in the future.


41 verified
  1. Peter Dedon, Professor, MIT, Cambridge
  2. Megan McBee, Scientist, SMART, Singapore
  3. Hia Fabian, Scientist, SMART, Singapore
  4. Junzhou Wu, Senior postdoctoral associate, Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, Singapore
  5. Brian Hughes, Trustee, MIT, San Antonio
  6. Daniel Yim, Scientist, SMART, Singapore
  7. Mallikarjun Sundaram Srivatsan, CEO, accurius Therapeutics, Boston
  8. Rahul Raman, Research Scientist, MIT, Cambridge
  9. JingjingSun, Scientist, Singapore MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, Singapore
  10. yadunanda Budigi, Scientist, Cambridge
  11. Debbie Lee, Scientist, Singapore
  12. Ali Khademhosseini, CEO, Terasaki Institute, Los Angeles
  13. Yok Hian Chionh, Scientist, Singapore
  14. David George, Scientist, Singapore
  15. Besey Teo, Singapore
  16. Aryeh Chiam, Research Officer
  17. Josué Meléndez, Educator and Social Scientist, New York
  18. Ong Wai Chung, Singapore
  19. Pouya Faridi, Assistant Professor, Monash University, Melbourne
  20. Ben Pouladian, CEO, BEP Helix, Los Angeles
  21. S. M. Tauseef, Professor and Associate Dean (R&D), UPES, Dehradun
  22. Thomas Wynn, Research Assistant, University of Texas at Austin, Austin
  23. Rakesh Kumar pathak, Assistant Professor, IISER Berhampur, Berhampur
  24. Suchit Sahai, Scientist
  25. Gilberto Gandra, Founder / Investor, Gandra & Co, Boston
  26. Vishnu Arumughan, Postdoc, Aalto University, Espoo
  27. Sylvie Saget, PhD student, GU, Gothenburg
  28. Arsalan Ul Haq, Postdoc researchher, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome
  29. Armin Bayati, PhD Student, McGill University, Montreal
  30. Vinay Mehta, CEO, PoleVault Technologies Pvt Ltd, India
  31. Keshav Moharir, Assistant Professor, Gurunanak College of Pharmacy, Nagpur, India
  32. Frank Lin
  33. Morteza Mahmoudi, Associate Professor, Michigan State University, East Lansing
  34. Jayakumar Rajadas, Assistant Professor, Stanford University, Palo Alto
  35. Raj Rao, Professor, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
  36. Bala Sivaraman, Engineer, Boston
  37. anonymous
  38. K. Lalchhandama, Professor, Pachhunga University College, Aizawl, Inida
  39. Krish Kizhatil, Scientist, The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor
  40. Eshan Ghosh, Scientist, Cambridge
  41. SWETA DAS, PHYSICIAN, Guwahati
Create an open letter
and sign it together