The Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) has found a prominent endocrinologist guilty of a scientific research fraud and the institute authorities have urged the director to debar him from doing any kind of research activity at least for the next two years.
Dr Pinaki Dutta was considered a promising scientist with having more than 100 scientific publications to his credit in a short career of less than a decade.
Dr Dutta, an associate professor in the department of endocrinology, had published a paper as a corresponding author on exploring myths and realities of enlargement of prostate among acromegaly patients (abnormal growth of the hands, feet, and face, caused by overproduction of growth hormone by the pituitary gland) in the February issue of prestigious European Journal of Endocrinology.
It was a comparative study in which Dr Dutta claimed that he conducted 14 biopsies each on healthy people and acromegaly patients and compared them.
However, senior pathologist Dr Nandita Kakkar, who was a co-author in the research paper and was responsible for study the biopsy samples, disassociated herself from the study, alleging that Dr Dutta had committed a research fraud. Three months back, in her complaint sent to dean of the institute, she alleged that Dr Dutta's claim of examination of biopsy samples was false as biopsies were never processed in her laboratory.
Following that the director marked the complaint to Institute Ethics Committee of the PGIMER. The PGIMER administration conducted a detailed investigation into the matter in the last three months and concluded last week that Dr Dutta had violated the ethics of medical research.
The committee also found that the research work was not approved by the Ethics Committee, which is mandatory and Dr Dutta also failed to show any consent forms of healthy people he claimed were examined.
The histopathology department also nailed Dr Dutta's lies, confirming that there was no record of such biopsies with it. The central registration number of the healthy patients he had given were actually patients suffering from prostate enlargement and prostate cancer. They were in no sense healthy patients, the histopathology department also confirmed.
All attempts to contact Dr Dutta went futile as his mobile phone remained switched off and he didn't take call on his landline despite repeated attempts.
Research ends here for Dr Dutta
The Institutional Ethics Committee headed by Dr KS Chugh has recommended that Dr Pinaki Dutta be barred from any kind of research activity at least for the next two years. The committee also decided that Dr Dutta should not be allowed to apply for any research grant, publishing paper or including his name in research papers written by other doctors from the institute. The committee has also recommended that remarks should be entered in the service book of Dr Dutta.