Bharat Aggarwal

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Bharat B. Aggarwal
Alma materUniversity of Delhi
Banares Hindu University
University of California, Berkeley
Scientific career
InstitutionsMD Anderson Cancer Center

Bharat B. Aggarwal is an Indian-American biochemist. His research has been in the areas of cytokines, the role of inflammation in cancer, and the anti-cancer effects of spices and herbs, particularly curcumin (a chemical constituent of the spice turmeric). He was a professor in the Department of Clinical Immunology, Bioimmunotherapy, and Experimental Therapeutics at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.[1]

In 2012, MD Anderson launched a review of Aggarwal's research after the federal government notified them of allegations of fraud by academic whistleblowers in as many as 65 of Aggarwal's published papers, with the allegations involving images that had been reused and manipulated to represent different results.[2][3][4] He retired at the end of 2015; his departure was not made public until February 2016.[1][5]

As of 2023, 30 papers published by Aggarwal have been retracted, ten others have received an expression of concern, and 17 others have been corrected.[6][7]


Aggarwal holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Delhi (1970), a Master of Science degree from Banaras Hindu University (1972) and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of California, Berkeley (1977), all in biochemistry. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco and was employed as a scientist at Genentech from 1980 to 1989, where his team characterized the cytokines TNF-alpha and TNF-beta. Aggarwal was Chief of the Cytokine Research Section, Department of Clinical Immunology, Bioimmunotherapy, Experimental Therapeutics at MD Anderson Cancer Center of the University of Texas in Houston from 1989 to 2015.[8][9]

Aggarwal's research has focused on potential anti-cancer properties of herbs and spices, particularly curcumin, which is found in the spice turmeric.[8][10] In 2004 Aggarwal co-founded the company Curry Pharmaceuticals, based in Research Triangle Park, N.C., which was seeking to develop drugs based on synthetic analogs of curcumin.[8][11] SignPath Pharma, a company seeking to develop liposomal formulations of curcumin, in 2013 licensed three patents from Aggarwal related to that approach.[12]

Scientific misconduct[edit]

In 2012, MD Anderson initiated a review of Aggarwal's research after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Research Integrity notified the institution that academic whistleblowers had found evidence of image manipulation in 65 published papers by Aggarwal.[2][13]

Aggarwal's lawyer proposed in 2013 legal action against the blog Retraction Watch after they reported several of Aggarwal's article corrections and retractions;[14] no such lawsuit was ever realized. In February 2016, the journal Biochemical Pharmacology retracted seven of Aggarwal's research articles, six of which had Aggarwal as senior or first author,[4] because "the data integrity has become questionable."[3] Also in February 2016, MD Anderson Cancer Center confirmed that Aggarwal had retired from the Center on December 31, 2015.[5][1]

In June 2016, following an investigation by MD Anderson Cancer Center, the journal Molecular Pharmacology retracted two of Aggarwal's papers, citing “inappropriate” or “unacceptable” image manipulation.[15] By April 2018, 19 of Aggarwal's articles, published in 7 research journals, had been retracted.[16][3][17][1] In September 2018, an additional nine articles by Aggarwal were retracted in journals published by the American Association for Cancer Research.[18]

In February 2018, a cancer conference in Chennai, India co-organized by Aggarwal was promoted with the false claim that it was co-sponsored by the MD Anderson Cancer Center.[19][20][21]


  • Aggarwal, Bharat B.; Yost, Debora (2011). Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease. Sterling. ISBN 978-1402776632.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Ackerman, Todd (March 4, 2016). "M.D. Anderson scientist, accused of manipulating data, retires". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on October 10, 2016. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Ackerman, Todd (February 24, 2012). "M.D. Anderson professor under fraud probe". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Grens, Kerry (February 22, 2016). "Author Nets Seven Retractions". The Scientist. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Nybo, Kristie (February 24, 2016). "Seven Papers Retracted for Lack of Data Integrity". BioTechniques. Archived from the original on October 12, 2016. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Oransky, Ivan (2016-02-22). "Journal retracts 7 papers by MD Anderson cancer researcher long under investigation". Retraction Watch. Retrieved 2016-02-24.
  6. ^ Marcus, Adam (3 October 2022). "Frankincense extract paper is 30th retracted by former MD Anderson researcher who once threatened to sue Retraction Watch". Retraction Watch. Center for Scientific Integrity. Retrieved 2022-10-03.
  7. ^ "Retraction Watch Database – Bharat Aggarwal". Retraction Watch. Center for Scientific Integrity. Retrieved 2023-01-06.
  8. ^ a b c Stix, Gary (February 2007). "Spice Healer". Scientific American. 296 (2): 66–9. Bibcode:2007SciAm.296b..66S. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0207-66. PMID 17367023.
  9. ^ Gazella, Karolyn A. (December 2009). "Pioneering Biochemist Bharat B. Aggarwal, PhD, of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, on Discovering Novel and Effective Cancer Treatments". Natural Medicine Journal. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  10. ^ Ackerman, Todd (July 11, 2005). "In cancer fight, a spice brings hope to the table". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
  11. ^ Singh, Seema (September 7, 2007). "From Exotic Spice to Modern Drug?". Cell. 130 (5): 765–768. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2007.08.024. PMID 17803897. S2CID 16044143.
  12. ^ Baum, Stephanie (March 26, 2013). "Biotech startup raises $1M for lung cancer treatment using component of tumeric [sic]". Med City News.
  13. ^ "Prominent Indian-American researcher under probe". Deccan Herald. February 25, 2012. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  14. ^ Heisel, William (April 19, 2013). "Doctor Goes After Retraction Watch, Unleashes Streisand Effect". USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism – Center for Health Journalism. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  15. ^ Lewis, Tanya (June 22, 2016). "More Retractions for Cancer Researcher". The Scientist. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  16. ^ "Caught Our Notice: Researcher who once threatened to sue Retraction Watch now up to 19 retractions". Retraction Watch. 10 April 2018.
  17. ^ "Seven retractions for prominent cancer researcher brings total to 18". Retraction Watch. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  18. ^ "Publisher's Note". Cancer Research. AACR Publications. 78 (17): 5178. 2018. doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-18-2438. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  19. ^ Oransky, Ivan (February 5, 2018). "MD Anderson: No, we did not co-sponsor this cancer conference". Retraction Watch. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  20. ^ Unni, Anagha (February 4, 2018). "After 'cancer is karma' remark, Baba Ramdev to inaugurate research conference at IIT Madras". Indian Express. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  21. ^ Chu, Will (April 13, 2018). "Curcumin trial retraction latest in long line for retired researcher". NutraIngredients. Retrieved January 9, 2019.

External links[edit]