An extensive research misconduct investigation has led the University of Connecticut Health Center to send letters of notification to 11 scientific journals that had published studies conducted by a member of its faculty. Dipak K. Das, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Surgery and director of the Cardiovascular Research Center, was at the center of a far-reaching, three-year investigation process that examined more than seven years of activity in Das’s lab.
“We have a responsibility to correct the scientific record and inform peer researchers across the country,” said Philip Austin, interim vice president for health affairs.
The investigation was sparked by an anonymous allegation of research irregularities in 2008. The comprehensive report, which totals approximately 60,000 pages, concludes that Das is guilty of 145 counts of fabrication and falsification of data. Inquiries are currently underway involving former members of Das’s lab; no findings have been issued to date.
As a result of the investigation the Health Center has frozen all externally funded research in Das’s laboratory and declined to accept $890,000 in federal grants awarded to him. Dismissal proceedings, in accordance with the University’s bylaws, are currently underway.
The UConn Health Center worked closely with the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) throughout its internal investigation. Following protocol, the Health Center has sent its complete report to the ORI, which is now conducting an independent investigation.
“While we are deeply disappointed by the flagrant disregard for the University’s Code of Conduct, we are pleased the oversight systems in place were effective and worked as intended,” Austin said. “We are grateful that an individual chose to do the right thing by alerting the appropriate authorities. Our findings were the result of an exhaustive investigation that, by its very nature, required considerable time to complete.
“The abuses in one lab do not reflect the overall performance of the Health Center’s biomedical research enterprise, which continues to pursue advances in treatments and cures with the utmost integrity,” he added. “We demand full compliance with all research standards and policies by our faculty and staff.”
Das had gained attention in recent years for his work into the beneficial properties of resveratrol, which is found in red wine. He has been employed by the Health Center since 1984, and was awarded tenure in 1993.
The journals notified by the Health Center are:
American Journal of Physiology – Heart & Circulatory
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling
Cellular Physiology & Biochemistry
Free Radical Biology
Free Radical Research
Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry
Journal of Cellular & Molecular Medicine
Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry
Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Molecular & Cellular Cardiology
Molecular & Cellular Chemistry