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Indian doctor cooked up research data and study

Author: IE, Posted on Monday, May 10 @ 19:23:29 IST by RxPG  

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General

Dr Ranjit Kumar Chandra, internationally known for his contributions to the field of nutrition, is facing claims that data in his widely reported study of a nutritional supplement’s effects on thinking and memory in the elderly, have no real value, The New York Times reported.


An Indian scientist is in the eye of a storm after scientific journals and three prominent US scientists raised questions about the validity of his findings.

Dr Ranjit Kumar Chandra, internationally known for his contributions to the field of nutrition, is facing claims that data in his widely reported study of a nutritional supplement’s effects on thinking and memory in the elderly, have no real value, The New York Times reported.

Experts questioned Chandra’s findings, saying the study published in September 2001 in Nutrition, has statistical irregularities and inconsistencies, and is characterised by improbable research methods.

The study purported to demonstrate striking cognitive benefits for people over 65 who took a daily multivitamin-mineral supplement that Dr Chandra formulated and has since patented, said The New York Times. He licensed the rights to the supplement to the Javaan Corporation, founded by his daughter, Amrita Chandra Gagnon. The company, in Somerville, Mass, sells the supplement as Javaan 50.

Late last year, in response to objections raised by three independent scientists, Nutrition’s editor Dr. Michael Meguid published an editorial acknowledging that Dr. Chandra’s paper had serious statistical flaws. In an e-mail interview to The New York Times, Dr Meguid said he was unaware that it had been rejected by British Medical Journal. Dr Richard Smith, editor of BMJ, said scientists who reviewed the paper wondered if the study had actually been done.

Contacted in Gurgaon, India, where he now lives, Chandra said, ‘‘Anyone with different views should repeat the study and see for themselves whether my findings can be confirmed or not.’’

Interestingly, when officials at Memorial University of Newfoundland — where Chandra worked for 27 years — asked to examine the raw data, Chandra said they had mysteriously disappeared when the university moved his office. A university spokesman denied any mishandling of Chandra’s papers.

One of three scientists who disputed Dr. Chandra’s published results, Dr. Saul Sternberg, an experimental psychologist at University of Pennsylvania, said he found ‘‘statistical anomalies and inconsistencies, measurements that were impossibly large.’’

Another, Dr. Seth Roberts, who studies learning and memory at the University of California, Berkeley, said he found the reported effects unbelievable. ‘‘The statistics were not just implausible,’’ Dr. Roberts said, ‘‘they were impossible.’’ Dr. Kenneth Carpenter, an emeritus professor of nutrition at Berkeley, also disputed his findings.



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