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Wine Researcher Caught Faking

One of the leading scientific voices touting the health benefits of red wine fabricated data dozens of times.

By | January 13, 2012

image: Wine Researcher Caught Faking

A University of Connecticut researcher who has conducted hundreds of studies on the health benefits of compounds found in red wine has been punished by the school for faking data on numerous occasions throughout his career. Dipak Das, director of cardiovascular research at UConn, fabricated data in 145 separate instances, according to an extensive, three-year investigation conducted by the school. The university has frozen all external funding to Das's lab and has declined $890,000 in federal grants awarded to him.

“We have a responsibility to correct the scientific record and inform peer researchers across the country,” Philip Austin, interim vice president for health affairs at UConn, said in a statement.

The university has notified 11 journals regarding Das's misconduct, potentially triggering the retraction of several published studies on resveratrol, a phenol found in red wine. Das's work formed part of the scientific foundation for the claim that resveratrol conferred cardio-protective benefits and could even increase longevity by activating proteins called sirtuins, which regulate transcription, apoptosis, and stress resistance in the human body.

Apparently, Das cut and pasted western blot data from several experiments into single figures, and altered images connected to his research on numerous occasions in publications, grant applications, and communications with publishers. The investigation even turned up damning emails sent between scientists working in Das's center. One such email referred to a "corrected picture." In another, a student informed Das that "I have changed the figures as you told me."

The center that Das headed has been "inactive" since January 2011, according to the Connecticut Mirror.

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Avatar of: kimdrkim

kimdrkim

Posts: 1

January 13, 2012

It is so upsetting when these incidents come to light... the public already has doubts as to whether or not public dollars which fund research are being spent wisely.  These unethical scientists do nothing but undermine public confidence and waste many, many dollars of funding on additional research that is based on FALSE assertions claimed by these scientists. There should be steeper disciplinary measures taken on individuals who commit these 'crimes'.  It is a crime, because it is stealing public funding from other scientists who are ethical, and who need funding that is becoming increasingly scarce.

Avatar of: steinp2

steinp2

Posts: 33

January 13, 2012

Once again, it's a few pictures of fuzzy smudges that decide the difference between good science and bad science, true and false.  People, as scientists, we need to come up with better and more complete systems.

Paul Stein

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 13, 2012

It is so upsetting when these incidents come to light... the public already has doubts as to whether or not public dollars which fund research are being spent wisely.  These unethical scientists do nothing but undermine public confidence and waste many, many dollars of funding on additional research that is based on FALSE assertions claimed by these scientists. There should be steeper disciplinary measures taken on individuals who commit these 'crimes'.  It is a crime, because it is stealing public funding from other scientists who are ethical, and who need funding that is becoming increasingly scarce.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 13, 2012

Once again, it's a few pictures of fuzzy smudges that decide the difference between good science and bad science, true and false.  People, as scientists, we need to come up with better and more complete systems.

Paul Stein

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 13, 2012

It is so upsetting when these incidents come to light... the public already has doubts as to whether or not public dollars which fund research are being spent wisely.  These unethical scientists do nothing but undermine public confidence and waste many, many dollars of funding on additional research that is based on FALSE assertions claimed by these scientists. There should be steeper disciplinary measures taken on individuals who commit these 'crimes'.  It is a crime, because it is stealing public funding from other scientists who are ethical, and who need funding that is becoming increasingly scarce.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 13, 2012

Once again, it's a few pictures of fuzzy smudges that decide the difference between good science and bad science, true and false.  People, as scientists, we need to come up with better and more complete systems.

Paul Stein

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 19, 2012

WESTERN BLOTS: THE PERFECT TOOL TO "OUT" ANY RESEARCHER

As one can learn from the following 2006 report (below) in NATURE METHODS, western blot tests are a perfect tool to out any vulnerable scientist.

According to the following report, 25% of accepted manuscripts contained at least one "inappropriately manipulated figure," but obviously the authors of these papers did not all face expulsion from their institutions as did Dr. Das.  This report in Nature Methods does not say that editors also reject papers where western blot images that are not of sufficient quality to be reproduced, forcing authors to enhanced the images.  But it should.  Furthermore, apparently most of these cases involve researchers who did not have intent to deceive.  

The question arises, why didn't the editors of the 11 journals involving 26 papers submitted by Dr. Das ever catch these "altered images" in their peer review and scientific integrity efforts?  It seems to me researchers should submit raw images and let the journals take all the ethical criticism rather than risk their careers over this.  Would firing 25% of the researchers fix the problem?  Obviously no.  But it's OK to pillory Dr. Das.  

The western blot test is a political can of worms.  There have been dismissals and sanctions issued over western blot images for a number of years now and the scientific community is no closer to resolving the problem than when the issue first came to light a few years back.  Today we have better though more expensive tests that can be performed, to measure protein levels in tissues.  The most sophisticated is microRNA.  NIH researchers validated by microRNA Dr. Das' work which involved the use of resveratrol in excised rodent hearts that were subjected to experimental heart attack.  Resveratrol restored the normal microRNA gene expression pattern following a heart attack in animals.  

The western blot test was only one of other tests performed to demonstrate the benefits of resveratrol.  The most remarkable were direct photo images of the heart which showed that resveratrol reduced the area of scarring (fibrosis) following an experimental heart attack.  These photo images themselves provide observable evidence that resveratrol protects the heart prior to a heart attack and can turn a mortal heart attack into a non-mortal event.  This is jaw-dropping science.  

Given that aspirin was recently found to be ineffective at reducing the risk for mortal heart attacks, cardiology should be focusing on resveratrol.  The release of accusations against the leading resveratrol researcher in cardiology was perfectly timed.  In the 8 years since a Harvard professor indicated resveratrol is a key molecule in red wine responsible for the French Paradox (the fact the wine-drinking French have a much lower rate of coronary artery disease mortality despite their high fat diet and high cholesterol levels), not one human study involving resveratrol in cardiology has ensued.  The higher crime appears to be foot dragging by modern medicine.  - Bill Sardi, managing partner, Resveratrol Partners LLC, dab LONGEVINEX

Nature Methods - 3, 237 (2006) doi:10.1038/nmeth0406-237
http://www.nature.com/nmeth/jo...

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 19, 2012

Oh please, enough with the conspiracy theories. The data were unquestionably fabricated. Are you familiar with the results of the investigation?  Das didn't enhance the resolution of his western blots to meet the standards of a journal, he copy and pasted entire panels. Many of them were completely unrelated to the paper they were put into.  Also, it is completely incomprehensible to me that someone could "produce a western blot that is not sufficient quality to be reproduced".  In a lab that had to give back $900,000 in grants, there wasn't $200 available to buy a high resolution scanner? Get real. And since when is it a legitimate defense to argue that it is okay to commit a crime because there are other people committing the same crime?

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 19, 2012

WESTERN BLOTS: THE PERFECT TOOL TO "OUT" ANY RESEARCHER

As one can learn from the following 2006 report (below) in NATURE METHODS, western blot tests are a perfect tool to out any vulnerable scientist.

According to the following report, 25% of accepted manuscripts contained at least one "inappropriately manipulated figure," but obviously the authors of these papers did not all face expulsion from their institutions as did Dr. Das.  This report in Nature Methods does not say that editors also reject papers where western blot images that are not of sufficient quality to be reproduced, forcing authors to enhanced the images.  But it should.  Furthermore, apparently most of these cases involve researchers who did not have intent to deceive.  

The question arises, why didn't the editors of the 11 journals involving 26 papers submitted by Dr. Das ever catch these "altered images" in their peer review and scientific integrity efforts?  It seems to me researchers should submit raw images and let the journals take all the ethical criticism rather than risk their careers over this.  Would firing 25% of the researchers fix the problem?  Obviously no.  But it's OK to pillory Dr. Das.  

The western blot test is a political can of worms.  There have been dismissals and sanctions issued over western blot images for a number of years now and the scientific community is no closer to resolving the problem than when the issue first came to light a few years back.  Today we have better though more expensive tests that can be performed, to measure protein levels in tissues.  The most sophisticated is microRNA.  NIH researchers validated by microRNA Dr. Das' work which involved the use of resveratrol in excised rodent hearts that were subjected to experimental heart attack.  Resveratrol restored the normal microRNA gene expression pattern following a heart attack in animals.  

The western blot test was only one of other tests performed to demonstrate the benefits of resveratrol.  The most remarkable were direct photo images of the heart which showed that resveratrol reduced the area of scarring (fibrosis) following an experimental heart attack.  These photo images themselves provide observable evidence that resveratrol protects the heart prior to a heart attack and can turn a mortal heart attack into a non-mortal event.  This is jaw-dropping science.  

Given that aspirin was recently found to be ineffective at reducing the risk for mortal heart attacks, cardiology should be focusing on resveratrol.  The release of accusations against the leading resveratrol researcher in cardiology was perfectly timed.  In the 8 years since a Harvard professor indicated resveratrol is a key molecule in red wine responsible for the French Paradox (the fact the wine-drinking French have a much lower rate of coronary artery disease mortality despite their high fat diet and high cholesterol levels), not one human study involving resveratrol in cardiology has ensued.  The higher crime appears to be foot dragging by modern medicine.  - Bill Sardi, managing partner, Resveratrol Partners LLC, dab LONGEVINEX

Nature Methods - 3, 237 (2006) doi:10.1038/nmeth0406-237
http://www.nature.com/nmeth/jo...

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 19, 2012

Oh please, enough with the conspiracy theories. The data were unquestionably fabricated. Are you familiar with the results of the investigation?  Das didn't enhance the resolution of his western blots to meet the standards of a journal, he copy and pasted entire panels. Many of them were completely unrelated to the paper they were put into.  Also, it is completely incomprehensible to me that someone could "produce a western blot that is not sufficient quality to be reproduced".  In a lab that had to give back $900,000 in grants, there wasn't $200 available to buy a high resolution scanner? Get real. And since when is it a legitimate defense to argue that it is okay to commit a crime because there are other people committing the same crime?

Avatar of: bsardi

bsardi

Posts: 7

January 19, 2012

WESTERN BLOTS: THE PERFECT TOOL TO "OUT" ANY RESEARCHER

As one can learn from the following 2006 report (below) in NATURE METHODS, western blot tests are a perfect tool to out any vulnerable scientist.

According to the following report, 25% of accepted manuscripts contained at least one "inappropriately manipulated figure," but obviously the authors of these papers did not all face expulsion from their institutions as did Dr. Das.  This report in Nature Methods does not say that editors also reject papers where western blot images that are not of sufficient quality to be reproduced, forcing authors to enhanced the images.  But it should.  Furthermore, apparently most of these cases involve researchers who did not have intent to deceive.  

The question arises, why didn't the editors of the 11 journals involving 26 papers submitted by Dr. Das ever catch these "altered images" in their peer review and scientific integrity efforts?  It seems to me researchers should submit raw images and let the journals take all the ethical criticism rather than risk their careers over this.  Would firing 25% of the researchers fix the problem?  Obviously no.  But it's OK to pillory Dr. Das.  

The western blot test is a political can of worms.  There have been dismissals and sanctions issued over western blot images for a number of years now and the scientific community is no closer to resolving the problem than when the issue first came to light a few years back.  Today we have better though more expensive tests that can be performed, to measure protein levels in tissues.  The most sophisticated is microRNA.  NIH researchers validated by microRNA Dr. Das' work which involved the use of resveratrol in excised rodent hearts that were subjected to experimental heart attack.  Resveratrol restored the normal microRNA gene expression pattern following a heart attack in animals.  

The western blot test was only one of other tests performed to demonstrate the benefits of resveratrol.  The most remarkable were direct photo images of the heart which showed that resveratrol reduced the area of scarring (fibrosis) following an experimental heart attack.  These photo images themselves provide observable evidence that resveratrol protects the heart prior to a heart attack and can turn a mortal heart attack into a non-mortal event.  This is jaw-dropping science.  

Given that aspirin was recently found to be ineffective at reducing the risk for mortal heart attacks, cardiology should be focusing on resveratrol.  The release of accusations against the leading resveratrol researcher in cardiology was perfectly timed.  In the 8 years since a Harvard professor indicated resveratrol is a key molecule in red wine responsible for the French Paradox (the fact the wine-drinking French have a much lower rate of coronary artery disease mortality despite their high fat diet and high cholesterol levels), not one human study involving resveratrol in cardiology has ensued.  The higher crime appears to be foot dragging by modern medicine.  - Bill Sardi, managing partner, Resveratrol Partners LLC, dab LONGEVINEX

Nature Methods - 3, 237 (2006) doi:10.1038/nmeth0406-237
http://www.nature.com/nmeth/jo...

Avatar of: Jmr8

Jmr8

Posts: 1

January 19, 2012

Oh please, enough with the conspiracy theories. The data were unquestionably fabricated. Are you familiar with the results of the investigation?  Das didn't enhance the resolution of his western blots to meet the standards of a journal, he copy and pasted entire panels. Many of them were completely unrelated to the paper they were put into.  Also, it is completely incomprehensible to me that someone could "produce a western blot that is not sufficient quality to be reproduced".  In a lab that had to give back $900,000 in grants, there wasn't $200 available to buy a high resolution scanner? Get real. And since when is it a legitimate defense to argue that it is okay to commit a crime because there are other people committing the same crime?

Avatar of: Appy B

Appy B

Posts: 1457

January 21, 2012

Absolutely whole heartedly agreed. Two wrongs (or for that matter, a hundred wrongs) don't make a right. Its so disappointing to hear such stories as Dr. Das's but you know what, for every 8 ethical group of researchers, there is always one or two unethical ones out there, bringing bad name to science under the guise of research work and not surprizingly, they are also quite well funded. I am glad that at least this case was investigated and his fraud got caught in time (?) and the story published so we all know that science isn't always led by one hundred percent honest scientists.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 21, 2012

Absolutely whole heartedly agreed. Two wrongs (or for that matter, a hundred wrongs) don't make a right. Its so disappointing to hear such stories as Dr. Das's but you know what, for every 8 ethical group of researchers, there is always one or two unethical ones out there, bringing bad name to science under the guise of research work and not surprizingly, they are also quite well funded. I am glad that at least this case was investigated and his fraud got caught in time (?) and the story published so we all know that science isn't always led by one hundred percent honest scientists.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 21, 2012

Absolutely whole heartedly agreed. Two wrongs (or for that matter, a hundred wrongs) don't make a right. Its so disappointing to hear such stories as Dr. Das's but you know what, for every 8 ethical group of researchers, there is always one or two unethical ones out there, bringing bad name to science under the guise of research work and not surprizingly, they are also quite well funded. I am glad that at least this case was investigated and his fraud got caught in time (?) and the story published so we all know that science isn't always led by one hundred percent honest scientists.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 23, 2012

The headline of this article, the establishment of an Israeli lab in the West Bank, indicates, at best, your anti-Israel bias and, at worse, something much more despicable.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 23, 2012

The headline of this article, the establishment of an Israeli lab in the West Bank, indicates, at best, your anti-Israel bias and, at worse, something much more despicable.

Avatar of: hlarmus

hlarmus

Posts: 5

January 23, 2012

The headline of this article, the establishment of an Israeli lab in the West Bank, indicates, at best, your anti-Israel bias and, at worse, something much more despicable.

Avatar of: House of RedB

House of RedB

Posts: 1457

February 1, 2012

After obtaining my PhD in Biology, I began my research career at a Federal Gov't laboratory where I immediately found myself surrounded by fraud.  If fraud is rampant in a gov't lab where the researchers do not have to compete for research dollars - just consider the level of complete dishonesty that exists in university laboratories where researchers have to make grant applications to obtain their research funding!  It is no wonder that anthropogenic climate change is the biggest research fraud of this and last century. 

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

February 1, 2012

After obtaining my PhD in Biology, I began my research career at a Federal Gov't laboratory where I immediately found myself surrounded by fraud.  If fraud is rampant in a gov't lab where the researchers do not have to compete for research dollars - just consider the level of complete dishonesty that exists in university laboratories where researchers have to make grant applications to obtain their research funding!  It is no wonder that anthropogenic climate change is the biggest research fraud of this and last century. 

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

February 1, 2012

After obtaining my PhD in Biology, I began my research career at a Federal Gov't laboratory where I immediately found myself surrounded by fraud.  If fraud is rampant in a gov't lab where the researchers do not have to compete for research dollars - just consider the level of complete dishonesty that exists in university laboratories where researchers have to make grant applications to obtain their research funding!  It is no wonder that anthropogenic climate change is the biggest research fraud of this and last century. 

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