Dr Red Wine fights back

PHOTO: Dr Red Wine fights back

Whisky or wine?

It is not surprising to see most opting for the latter these days. And usually it is red wine they go for.

The reason, in great measure, is due to findings published by scientists like India-born professor Dipak K. Das.

He has been working with the Health Center of the University of Connecticut since 1984 and gained attention in recent years for his work into the beneficial properties of resveratrol, which is found in red wine.

According to the respected Mayo Clinic, some studies have showed that resveratrol lowers levels of "bad" cholesterol and protects the lining of heart blood vessels.

But on Jan 11, the University of Connecticut's Health Center dropped a bombshell.

It issued a press release which said that Dr Das, a professor in the department of surgery and director of the Cardiovascular Research Center, was at the centre of a far reaching, three-year investigation process that examined more than seven years of activity in his lab.

The news was picked up by media agencies across the world and became the talking point for days.

The investigation was sparked by an anonymous allegation of research irregularities in 2008. And the investigators, in a report running into 60,000 pages, concluded that Prof Das was guilty of 145 counts of fabrication and falsification of data.

The university's interim vice-president for health affairs Philip Austin, after sending letters of notification to 11 scientific journals that had published studies conducted by Prof Das, said: "We have a responsibility to correct the scientific record and inform peer researchers across the country."

When tabla! got in touch with Prof Das, who joined the university in 1984 and received tenure in 1993, his response was: "I am filing a multimillion dollar suit against the university."

He said he has been working on cardiovascular research since the early 1980s and has "600 papers, 200 reviews/book chapters and 20 books in this area".

"There is nothing wrong in any of our papers," he added. "The university confiscated all of our original data, notebooks and computers," he alleged in an e-mail to tabla!.

Prof Das said he had suffered a stroke for a third time and was in hospital when the university issued the press release.

A graduate of Jadavpur University in India, he got his PhD from Calcutta University.

He has established an Institute for Medicinal Food and Applied Nutrition in Jadavpur and there were reports earlier that he would return to India in the near future and devote time to developing this institute.

However, when he was asked whether he would stay on in the US, he told tabla! that he is waiting for the outcome of his suit against the university.

"We must wait for the results and then I'll work in the US and, hopefully, we will receive huge compensation. Scott Tips is my attorney," he said.

Mr Tips is a California-based lawyer who specialises in food and drug law. He is also the general counsel for the US' National Health Federation, the world's oldest health-freedom organisation for consumers.

When tabla! contacted the University of Connecticut, it responded saying that "dismissal proceedings, in accordance with the university's bylaws, continue" against Prof Das.