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India-born scientists caught faking data

Dr Bharat Aggarwal, a University of Texas researcher who was trying to find a herbal cure for cancer, was late February put under investigation for allegedly manipulating data.

world Updated: Mar 05, 2012 02:00 IST
Yashwant Raj

Dr Bharat Aggarwal, a University of Texas researcher who was trying to find a herbal cure for cancer, was late February put under investigation for allegedly manipulating data.

He is among three Indian-origin researchers recently accused by their employers of fabricating and falsifying data, publishing suspect papers, and misleading colleagues and mentors.

The other two are Dr Anil Potti, a cancer researcher earlier with Duke University, and Dr Dipak K Das, head of cardiovascular research at University of Connecticut.

At the university's MD Anderson Cancer Centre, Aggarwal was researching the benefits of plant-derived chemicals in fighting cancer.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/3/05_03_pg8b.jpg

"MD Anderson takes an allegation of research impropriety seriously, and we will use internal and regulatory processes to review any such matter that is reported," Dr Raymond N DuBois, MD Anderson provost, told Hindustan Times.

Aggarwal could not be reached. But he did confirm to Retraction Watch, an online watchdog of scientific studies, that his lab was indeed under investigation. "I think that somebody out there is putting this whole thing together and their mind is made up," he had said.

The case against Dr Potti, on the other hand, is over. He left Duke, in North Carolina, late last year, following problems found in the "reproducibility" of his research.

Hyderabad-born Potti had attracted worldwide attention following claims that he was close to finding a way to tailor chemotherapy to match a patient's genetic make-up. Researchers, however, found it difficult to replicate his experiments. Duke announced it was initiating steps to retract and review his papers. Potti couldn't be reached for comments.

The third case, involving Das, was made against him by University of Connecticut in January after a three-year probe found he had fabricated data on resveratrol, an ingredient found in red wine. Das couldn't be reached for comments.