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Research Integrity

Chemist made-up data in 4 NIH grant applications

University of Alabama researcher was found to have falsified images

by Dalmeet Singh Chawla, special to C&EN
September 1, 2023

A university campus shot from a distance.
Credit: Michael Mercier
The University of Alabama in Huntsville

A chemist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville made-up data in four grant applications to the US National Institutes of Health, a federal agency has determined.

A report released by the US Office of Research Integrity (ORI) on Aug. 29 found Surangi (Suranji) Jayawardena, formerly an assistant professor of chemistry at the university, responsible for “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly falsifying and/or fabricating data in twelve (12) figure panels” in four NIH grant applications.

According to the ORI, Jayawardena falsified or fabricated images by reusing data from the same source and incorrectly claiming the same data was from different experimental conditions with antibiotic particles or bacteria.

From Aug. 18, 2023, onwards, Jayawardena must have her research supervised for 4 years, the ORI report says. A committee of two or three faculty members who are familiar with Jayawardena’s work will provide the necessary oversight.

The committee will review data from Jayawardena’s lab every 3 months and submit a report about it to the ORI twice a year. During this supervision period, Jayawardena has agreed to not serve on any US Public Health Service peer review committees and advisory boards.

A University of Alabama media official confirms to C&EN that the chemist is no longer at the university. C&EN was not able to find current contact details for Jayawardena.


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