Resveratrol researcher Dipak Das: My lab’s work was “99% correct”

http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/reseveratrol-researcher-dipak-das-my-labs-work-was-99-correct/#more-6069

 

 


Das, via UConn

Dipak Das, the UConn red wine researcher charged by his institution with rampant misconduct that will likely lead to dozens of retractions, is evidently a 99%-er — when it comes to accuracy, that is.

According to a statement purportedly from his lawyer refuting those charges, Das claims, among other things, that the output from his lab was nearly perfect. He also has a lot to say about a 60,000-page report that the statement says he may not have actually downloaded.

We might note a lot more things about the letter, which we received from Bill Sardi, president of Longevinex, a resveratrol company which has worked with Das. Sardi has been sending Das defenses since the story broke; we posted some of them and Derek Lowe has posted parts of another. But here’s the letter, in its entirety:

Note: this 9-point document was obtained from legal counsel for Dipak Das, PhD, a researcher at the University of Connecticut recently accused of scientific fraud.

Discovery of an online document involving allegations against a University of Connecticut Health Center researcher accused of scientific fraud reveals a long-standing internal battle between the accused researcher and an administrative physician at the institution that may have resulted in false allegations being generated.  That document reveals the following:

1. Dr. Dipak Das, PhD, the accused, alleges all of the original documents involving 42 years of research which includes images of tests known as western blots, were confiscated by a representative of the university and were destroyed.  These original raw western blot images, which would serve to completely exonerate Dr. Das, are no longer available for comparison with altered images that were later published in scientific journals.  This same antagonist within the university proceeded to write hundreds of letters to scientific journals and funding sources, says Dr. Das, making false allegations that “I made up all the western blot tests.”

2. Dr. Das further alleges, once the original images were destroyed and could not be used for comparison in his defense, the university chose to employ software that can detect alterations to graphic images, software that has a high rate of false-positives and is not considered reliable unless original images are available for comparison purposes.  Dr. Das says: “no one will use this software on the published paper unless originals are NOT available.”

3.  Dr. Das counter attacks the University of Connecticut’s 60,000 page damning report which accuses him of altering images in order to fraudulently gain research grant money.  Dr. Das claims he is an eminent scientist who was pre-funded by the National Institutes of Health and did not have to publish to gain grant money.

4. Dr. Das indicates, in this available online document, that he never personally performed any of these western blot tests that are now in question and that the person who performed most of these tests is retired and surprisingly not on the list of researchers accused of submitting fraudulent data to scientific journals.

5.  Dr. Das then says he proceeded to examine the work of others in his laboratory and found their work to be “99% correct.”  Dr. Das said he is considered an expert in reviewing research papers and had been requested to review western blot tests for various scientific journals.

6. Contrary to what the University of Connecticut report contends, Dr. Das denies he was the only person who had keys to his office and that many other students and post-doctorates had access to his computer to enter results of experiments they conducted.

7. Dr. Das categorically denies, as the university pejoratively alleges, that he “de-funded” a student because she did not produce the test results he demanded.  Dr. Das claims he only took her off of his budget because she was working exclusively for another researcher.

8. The 60,000-page report describing the alleged scientific misconduct by Dr. Das, while only recently released to the public to put him on trial in the court of public opinion, was produced sometime in 2010, but it is unclear whether Dr. Das ever had an opportunity to even view it in its totality because he could not download it onto his computer because of its large size.

9. Dr. Das claims the allegations against him and his East-Indian colleagues began with a change in the administration at the university and for unknown reasons only focuses on East-Indian researchers when researchers of other ethnic origins performed most of the tests now in question.

Because of the seriousness of the charges and the fact they involve federally funded research studies, and the possibility that tissue samples as well as test data may have been intentionally destroyed by the university, it appears federal investigators need to intervene as quickly as possible.

In fact, the Office of Research Integrity, which investigates alleged misconduct by federal grant recipients, was the one that tipped off UConn to the case.

The letter appears to be from Scott Tips, a “health freedom” lawyer in California and president of the National Health Federation. The NHF calls itself

an international nonprofit, consumer-education, health-freedom organization working to protect individuals’ rights to choose to consume healthy food, take supplements, and use alternative therapies without government restrictions.

Das, meanwhile, has apparently been lecturing in Kolkata, India.

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