Saturday, January 14, 2012

Short Sharp Science

Red wine researcher accused of fraud

Jeff Hecht, consultant
(Image: PA)

If you thought all the news reports that wine was good for your health were too good to be true, you could be right. Some of the research was faked, says the University of Connecticut.
After a three-year investigation, the university concluded that Dipak Das, a professor of surgery and head of the university's cardiovascular research centre, "is guilty of 145 counts of fabrication and falsification of data."
An anonymous tip of possible fraud in 2008 triggered the investigation. The result was a massive report, totalling nearly 60,000 pages, that documents the case against Das. The report was drawn from examination of more than 100 papers and a summary is available online.

The university has notified 11 journals in which Das published suspect papers and has    begun dismissal   procedures.
The university says it is also investigating the possible involvement of former members of Das's lab.
Das gained public attention in recent years with research into the health benefits of drinking wine. Much of his work has been on resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, but in 2008 he published results showing that white wine also improves heart health in rats. "Beer is also cardioprotective," Das told New Scientist.
However, Das was not the first to publicise the health benefits of resveratrol - many other labs have reported promising results.
The investigation began after the US Office of Research Integrity told the university that it had received an anonymous allegation of falsified data in one paper published in 2008.
According to the Connecticut Mirror, the board concluded that Das had manipulated figures showing results of western blot protein analysis. The board also reported extensive evidence of other fraud, including files on Das's computer indicating that images had been manipulated. Faked images have been prominent in other research fraud.

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