Discovery of fraud in scientific research
usually takes the medical world by storm and every so often a major incident
causes embarrassment to the community.
Prof. Dipak K. Das
a professor at the University of Connecticut's Department of Surgery and
director of the school's Cardiovascular Research Center is the epicenter of
a new research scandal
Dr. Das is facing dismissal after a three-year
investigation revealed 145 counts of fabrication and falsification in his
research data. The investigation was carried out after the school received an
anonymous allegation, in 2008, accusing Prof Das of research irregularities.
Incidentally Das, whose name is
synonymous with resveratrol research
, has done extensive studies on the
health-promoting properties of resveratrol, a component of red wine. Dr. Das
was involved in studies that touted resveratrol as a rejuvenator of
As a result of the fall-out, all research
carried out in Das's lab using external funds has been frozen and close to $1
million worth federal research grants allotted to Das, have been withdrawn.
11 scientific journals that published
Das's previous work have been notified and the school has initiated dismissal
proceedings against Dr. Das.
While the authorities are more than
peeved by Das's disregard for the University's Code of Conduct, they are
pleased that the monitoring systems are in place and that the rot that stemmed
from Das's lab is on its way to being weeded out.
As the controversy
over Dr. Dipak Das's fraud allegations rage world-wide, there are a lot of speculations
among researchers, clinicians, and red-wine enthusiasts on the future of
meeting "Resveratrol 2012"
scheduled between Dec 10-12 at Lucknow,
India, has for now been cancelled as Das was one among the eight international
experts on the scientific committee.
scientists believe that the Das episode is unlikely to impact
of science as the goodness of the redwine molecule has been confirmed by a host
of other scientists. A huge amount of data has been generated regarding the
beneficial impact of resveratrol on certain diseases, based on work carried out
on various experimental models. Interestingly, more than 4000 papers have
already been published in this area.
Over all there are too
many factors in favor of red wine and heart health. It is important for
scientists to not allow a single episode of malfeasance influence their work.
Dr. Gordon Tomaselli
of Johns Hopkins University
cannot be more right when he said that
research misconduct happens and therefore it is imperative not to rely overtly on the work conducted by
any single group or laboratory.
A component of red
wine, this molecule has been promoted as a heart-smart accompaniment to a
healthy meal. It has, for long, enjoyed the role of "key candidate" in
molecular studies carried out on the benefits of red wine and its impact on the
There was so
much interest generated in resveratrol that a scientific meeting was held at
Denmark in 2010.A position paper derived from this meeting points out that the
available evidence on red wine is inadequate to recommend its administration to
humans. Despite being a promising agent, trials are recommended to confirm the
clinical potential of the molecule.