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, 9 (1), 294-319

Science, Names Giving and Names Calling: Change NDM-1 to PCM


Science, Names Giving and Names Calling: Change NDM-1 to PCM

Ajai R Singh. Mens Sana Monogr.


A journal editor recently apologised for publishing a 2010 paper in which authors designated an enzyme as New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase-1 (NDM-1) and its related gene bla(NDM-1) after a city, New Delhi. This name had raised an outcry in India, with health authorities, media and medical practitioners demanding New Delhi be dropped from the name. The name was actually first given in another 2009 paper, whose corresponding author remains the same as the 2010 paper. There is a tradition of eponymous names in science. But those found derogatory to races, groups, cities, and countries have been changed. For example, "Mongolism" was changed to Down's syndrome; "Australia" antigen to HBsAg; "Mexican" Swine flu to H1N1; "GRID" (Gay Related Immune Deficiency) and 4H-Disease (Haitians, Homosexuals, Haemophiliacs and Heroin Users Disease) to AIDS. It is necessary that NDM-1 also be changed to a name based on scientific characteristics. NDM-1 must be changed to PCM (plasmid-encoding carbapenem-resistant metallo-β-lactamase). It is also necessary to review the tradition of naming organisms, diseases, genes, etc. after cities, countries and races. Often, such names giving amounts to names calling. It needs to be discarded by scientists in all new names giving from now on. "Geographical" and "racial" names giving must be replaced by "scientific" names giving. Journal editors must ensure that such scientific names giving is laid down as standard guideline in paper submissions. All such names still in currency need to be phased out by replacing them with names based on scientific characteristics, or in honour of their pioneering scientist/s or institutions. The lead author of the above 2010 paper has said he was not consulted about the final draft and did not agree with the conclusions of the paper. To ensure that corresponding authors do not ride roughshod over co-authors, and lead and other authors do not backtrack on papers, editors must ensure written concurrence of all authors, especially the lead author, to the final draft of a paper and include this in their guidelines for paper submissions.

Keywords: Carbapenems; Eponymous names; Journal editors; Metallo-β-lactamase; NDM-1; Names changing; Names giving; PCM; Plasmids; Scientific names giving; Submission guidelines; Superbug.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of Interest

None declared.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Flowchart of paper

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