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Resveratrol researcher files $35 Million defamation claim, but U Conn Health Center stands firm

By Stephen Daniells , 23-Jan-2013
Last updated on 23-Jan-2013 at 17:27 GMT

Resveratrol researcher files $35 Million defamation claim, but U Conn Health Center stands firm

The researcher at the center of a highly publicized resveratrol research scandal has hit back against his former employers with a $35 million defamation claim against the University of Connecticut (U Conn) Health Center.

The claim includes wrongful termination, violation of the university’s by-laws, and lack of due process as protected by the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The University of Connecticut  accused Dr Dipak Das, a longtime researcher of the red wine compound resveratrol, of fabricating data on at least 145 occasions, in 26 research papers published in 11 journals over seven years.

The University had taken part in a three-year investigation before going public in January  2012 with its allegations that Dr Das enagaged in systematic alteration of a type of data called Western Blot images which plot data - usually by Photoshop manipulation on his computer.

A spokesperson for U Conn Health Center told us that the university stood by its report, before reiterating: "The University’s comprehensive investigation found Dr. Das to be guilty of 145 counts of fabrication and falsification of data."

In the immediate aftermath of the allegations, Dr Das refuted the university's claims on the grounds of a racist conspiracy. He then remained largely silent on the issue. 

In a press release sent to NutraIngredients (but not released on the web), Dr. Das’ legal representatives (Scott Tips from Tips & Associates) claim U Conn Health Center dismissed him before the official investigation against him was completed and then denied him opportunity to present contrary evidence or testimony by expert witnesses, in violation of the right to due process under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

ORI

According to the release, a U Conn Health Center press release stated that university authorities were working closely with the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) throughout its entire investigation and said it had sent its complete report to the ORI for an independent investigation.  The Das legal team asserts, however, that U Conn Health Center never submitted any such report to the ORI. 

When contacted by NutraIngredients-USA, John Dahlberg, PhD, ORI deputy director, could not shed any additional light on this claim.

“Because ORI is a regulatory office within the Department of Health and Human Services, the Privacy Act requires us to inform you that we can neither confirm nor deny that we are aware of the matter you refer to,” he said.

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