Regular-article-logo Thursday, 07 December 2023

Wine research fraud slur on JU alumnus

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OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT Published 13.01.12, 12:00 AM

New Delhi, Jan. 12: A US university investigation has indicted an Indian-origin scientist who has initiated “post-retirement activities” at Jadavpur University, his alma mater, for fabrication and falsification of research data.

The University of Connecticut Health Center announced yesterday that its probe had found Dipak Das, professor of surgery and the director of its cardiovascular research centre, “guilty of 145 counts of fabrication and falsification of data”.

Das had gained attention in recent years for his studies of the beneficial properties of a compound called resveratrol, found in red wine. The university, which initiated its investigation after receiving anonymous allegations of research irregularities in 2008, said it had sent letters of notification to 11 scientific journals that had published studies conducted by Das.

“We have a responsibility to correct the scientific record and inform peer researchers,” said Philip Austin, the interim vice-president for health affairs at the university, which has in the past highlighted research by Das.

Das was not available for comment. A website on his research activities describes him as a “recognised leader in cardiovascular research”.

According to the website, Das has established an “Institute for Medicinal Food and Applied Nutrition” at Jadavpur University that will aim at exploring the molecular mechanisms through which plants and herbs have medicinal effects. It says Das plans to retire in the near future and devote his time fully to developing this institute.

Jadavpur University (JU) scientists said they had no information about any trouble that Das might have had at the University of Connecticut.

“We’re completely unaware of anything like this. His association has been restricted to delivering lectures and discussions,” said Utpal Roy Choudhuri, coordinator at JU’s Centre for Medicinal Food and Applied Nutrition.

“As a former student, (Das) played a role in initiating the establishment of this centre under our department, but with the consent of the university,” said Lalitagauri Ray, head of JU’s department of food technology and biochemical engineering. “I don’t know anything more than that.”

The University of Connecticut has frozen all externally funded research in Das’s laboratory. Dismissal proceedings in accordance with the university’s bylaws are under way, the university said in its statement. Inquiries are also under way involving former members of Das’s laboratory but no findings have been issued yet, it said.

Another US institution is probing the work of another Indian-origin scientist. The Duke University Medical Centre in North Carolina has been conducting a misconduct inquiry into the work of its former researcher, Anil Potti, who has retracted a series of research papers he had co-authored on the connection between patients’ genes and their response to cancer chemotherapy.

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