Research paper fraud

After three indictments, PGI panel finds doctor innocent

CHANDIGARH:Ignoring all three previous high-level inquiries that indicted him, fourth inquiry conducted by single-member panel, has given a clean chit to Prof Amitava Chakrabarti, Head, Department of Pharmacology, PGI, in a research paper fraud case.

vinaymishra188@gmail.com

Sandeep Rana
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, October 19

Ignoring all three previous high-level inquiries that indicted him, fourth inquiry conducted by single-member panel, has given a clean chit to Prof Amitava Chakrabarti, Head, Department of Pharmacology, PGI, in a research paper fraud case. Professor Chakrabarti will superannuate by month-end.

 Till now, no action was initiated initiated in the by the authorities. Instead, not satisfied with earlier held probes, two of which were independently conducted by bodies outside the PGI, the institute administration handed over the probe to one of the colleagues of the controversial doctor, “apparently” to let him walk out of the institute without any penalty. 

The fourth inquiry was handed over to Dr D Behra. Now, PGI Director Jagat Ram claimed the fate of the case will be decided in the governing body meeting.

The case dates back to 2014, when media reports highlighted that how the drug information unit (DIU) at the PGI — a helpline for doctors run by the Pharmacology Department — received just one call in three years (2011 to 2013), but three doctors from the department, including its head Dr Amitava Chakrabarti published a research paper in a peer-reviewed journal, claiming that the unit received 56 calls in a month.

The institute director had constituted a four-member inquiry committee under Dr Savita Malhotra, who was one of the senior most professors at the institute then. The inquiry committee in its report had found that “there is a clear discrepancy in the claims of Dr Chakrabarti.” As per the inquiry report, Dr Chakrabarti failed to provide any evidence of 56 calls he claimed having received in a month in the research paper.

The case was referred to the PGI Ethics Committee under the chairmanship of the late Prof KS Chugh, (the committee comprised retired judges, ethicists and BN Goswamy as members), which also agreed that Dr Chakrabarti’s study was fraud.

Another independent inquiry was conducted by the journal, which led to the retraction of the research paper and blacklisting the author.

PGI Director Prof Jagat Ram did not speak on the fourth inquiry findings. He said, “The matter will be brought to the governing body in the first week of November. Whatever are the findings of current and previous inquiries, they will be tabled in the meeting.”

Findings of inquiry committees

  • An inquiry conducted by the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research (2014) stated “Our final and firm conclusion was that the editorial and peer reviewers have been duped by the authors by sending an article based of non-supportive data. This article has tarnished the name of our journal and has wasted serious editorial resources and time. We have taken decision to retract the article from our journal.” 
  • A four-member inquiry committee constituted by the then director under Dr Savita Malhotra, who was  one of the senior most professors at the institute, found (2015) “there is a clear discrepancy in the record provided and that which Dr Chakrabarti claims.” As per the inquiry report, Dr Chakrabarti failed to provide any evidence of 56 calls he mentioned in the research paper. 
  • The Ethics Committee was of the opinion that the published data was not supported by documents provided by the authors. The publication of this paper tarnished the reputation of the institution.

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