Ashim Mitra allegedly made millions by selling an Indian American graduate student’s research.
At a time when one is constantly updated by news of Indian Americans making great leaps in academics, this news comes as a distressing moment.
Professor Ashim Mitra, who taught at University of Missouri-Kansas City, is accused of stealing and selling his graduate student’s research work.
The University of Missouri has filed a lawsuit against the professor, who has since then resigned. According to the lawsuit, Mitra swiped a path-breaking drug formulation from a student. He did not only made $1.5million by selling it but also stood to gain as much as $10 million in royalties.
Mitra’s wife, who worked in his lab, and two other pharmaceutical companies are also named in the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, Mitra secretly worked with the companies to develop a patent. The pharmaceutical product, which recently received FDA approval, is used to treat dry eye, a condition common in elderly.
The lawsuit seeks to designate Kishore Cholkar as the rightful owner of the patent, based on the research he conducted in 2010.
According to the university, the school is the rightful owner of the work and Mitra, by taking the credit himself, has defrauded the university.
Mitra however has denied all allegations. But according to the lawsuit, Mitra sold the research, which should have been rightfully Cholkar’s, to Auven Therapeutics Management, a pharmaceutical management company that is based in the US Virgin Islands. Auven then sold the work to Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, an India-based company for $40 million, plus continued royalties.
The university has also accused both the pharmaceutical companies of establishing contact with the university so as to avoid sharing of profits.
The former professor of pharmacy, Mitra, had courted trouble earlier, too. In 2018, he was accused of forcing students from India to do his household chores such as walking the dogs, cleaning his basements or busing the tables at social events. The Kansas City Star had then reported that the students feared losing their visas if they did not follow Mitra’s instructions.
The Star had then reported speaking to dozens of students and colleagues who had seen students performing such menial jobs for the professor. Mitra had then issued a statement to the Star, through his attorney, denying any of such charges. The lawsuit then was filed by another pharmacy professor Mridul Mukherji. However, the university, too responded to Star stating that they made repeated efforts to reach the students but none of them substantiated the claims made in the lawsuit.