Blog | Friday, January 13, 2012

QD: News Every Day--Resveratrol researcher alleged to have faked data

Oenophiles should take a moment of reserve when it comes to red wine's health benefits. A researcher has come under scrutiny for allegedly faking data about its effects on health.

Dipak K. Das, Ph.D., director of the University of Connecticut's Cardiovascular Research Center, has been charged by a university report of 145 counts of fabrication and falsification of data. Dr. Das has authored papers on the beneficial properties of resveratrol, an antioxidant found in red wine, as well as other nationally recognized papers on nutrition and health.

The allegations resulted from an anonymous tip that turned into a three-year investigation that examined seven years of activity in Dr. Das' lab. The report totals 60,000 pages (a summary is 49 pages), and it has been turned over to a division of the Department of Health and Humans Services for investigation.

In the meantime, the university has frozen all externally funded research in his lab and declined to accept $890,000 in federal grants awarded to him, according to a press release. Dismissal proceedings are now underway.

Dr. Das filed a response, which the Chronicle of Higher Education has posted, in which Dr. Das said he has had a brain hemorrhage and stroke and is unable to fully respond to the massive indictment against him. He did allege racism against Indian faculty in his letter, though.

MSNBC reported that there were so many problems over so many years that review board members concluded the data falsification was intentional. Examples included data that was digitally altered; data from one experiment used to justify findings in another; and controls from one experiment used as another experiment's control factors.

The university has notified 11 scientific journals that had published studies by Dr. Das. "We have a responsibility to correct the scientific record and inform peer researchers across the country," said the university's interim vice president for health affairs. The blog Retraction Watch reported that Dr. Das has been removed as co-editor from one of the 11 journals named, and has been spurned by a company that was providing researchers, including him and others, with funding and resveratrol pills.

Resveratrol's impact on health has been independently examined by more than just this Dr. Das, and many extol its effects. (This journal, Cell Metabolism was not one of the 11 notified of possible fraud.)