This week’s story (click HERE for video) focuses on a professor who allegedly stole a drug formula from a student during a university research project. Apparently it was a creative formula as it is estimated to be worth upwards of 10 million in royalties. The professor claims that the formula was already under patent when the student came to work on the project. But it’s serious enough for the university to file a suit against the professor. Seems like a pretty complex case to me. Thoughts?

10 Comments on A Lucrative Independent Study?

  1. According to the American Sociological Association’s Code of Ethics, Dr. Ashim Mitra violated numerous ethical codes including: Code #5(a) Exploitation – “Whether for personal, economic, or professional advantage, sociologists do not exploit persons over whom they have direct or indirect supervisory, evaluative, or other authority such as students, supervisees, employees, or research participants”, and Code #14 Authorship – “Sociologists take responsibility and credit, including authorship credit, only for work they have actually performed or to which they have made a substantial contribution.

    Although he is not a sociology researcher, I find it hard to believe that a professor would exploit his researcher’s work. Moreover, claiming credit for something that he did not identify, find, or observe is pitiful. Personally, I think that he should be preventing from working in a research facility/university for life. Taking advantage of one’s students for economic gain and public notoriety is the ultimate violation of trust from a teacher/mentor.

  2. The student was put into a situation where someone with more, connections, capabilities were all he had done was simply taken away from him and thrown to the side. I do not think that the university should be the ones to claim the money since it was the STUDENT who has made the discovery. Granted he does get name recognition for what he discovered, but i feel as though he is being displaced by both the university over the major royalties of actual payment.

  3. Besides violating multiple ASA ethics violations, this professor and university used their power to belittle the student and misconstrue this situation. This looks really bad for this university–as a place that is supposed to be fostering young minds that create new formulas, research, ideas it looks like all they are doing is farming students for their formulas, research, and ideas. The student is the victim here, so unless the university is suing FOR the student (which I am not sure how they would do that) then they do not have a lawsuit.

  4. At a minimum, it appears that the professor was extremely unethical in working behind the student and university’s back to take an invention, claim it as his own and sell it. It is good that the university is taking action, but they still come out of this looking bad as a research institution. In addition, the student is still pushed aside in all of this; despite seeking that the student be named the rightful inventor to the patent, the university would still receive a major chunk of the profit.

  5. The statement “The student arrived after the patent was signed” is just ridiculous. As a professor, he was expected to be ethical and trustworthy. He had let so many of the students and fellow professors down and he should be ashamed of it. It is indeed a serious problem and I would be hurt too if I was the student. Also, yes the student conducted a research at his University while being a graduate assistant, but I am not exactly sure why the university is taking the money. It is fortunate that the university is suing the professor and trying to help the student out, however, unless the student signed a contract regarding making a breakthrough and having to give up his money if it was done when he was a graduate assistant, nothing makes sense here. I just hope everything works out well for the rightful inventor of the new breakthrough.

  6. This is a perfect example of money being a powerful motivator. I am awfully suspicious that money is motivating more than just this shady professor though. One student in the coffee commented to the reporter that if this happened to her, she would be angry but proud that the university was standing up for her. I have to wonder if the fact that the $1.5 million technically belongs to the university since the Dr. Cholkar was a graduate student at the time of the patent is the driving force behind their support. I don’t know about everyone else, but I look up to my professors, especially for guidance and they are typically excellent resources. I would consider this an immense betrayal.

  7. Normally professors and universities stress integrity in students and have strict policies on plagiarism. Taking a students work and ideas especially when they had the potential to make 1.5 million dollars as the professor made, is worse than plagiarism. I look forward to following this case as it goes through the trial. The professor knows he’s in the wrong since he hasn’t shown up to the university in weeks and he deserved to be fired.

  8. Awful move on the professors part for sure. But the University should not be the one claiming the money if they win the trial. The University should only be fighting on behalf of the student to get the money, maybe get a cut or whatever. But the university should be proud that they had a student who made a discovery. If the school keeps all the money they would basically do the same thing as the professor did. And if the professor is claiming the student showed up afterward, why hasn’t he shown his face on campus in so long? That screams “guilty”.

  9. You rarely hear about shady things occurring across college campuses like this. The professor is clearly in the wrong for stealing the student’s formula, but it doesn’t surprise me the slightest. This makes me wonder about what other shady things the professor was up to. I am sure shady things like this happen across college campuses all across America, the fact that this case involves millions of dollars is the only reason its in the news. I found it interesting that the university is fighting for the money believing that it should be theirs. If I were the student I would be absolutely pissed.

  10. Wow! This video surprised me. I wish we could have heard from the professor I would love to hear what he has to say about his actions. I would probably be pretty upset if I was the student, all of my hard work got someone else millions of dollars… I would have wanted credit for the hard work I put in. But, at the same time I would be proud of myself. My work was good enough that a professor had to steal it and then got millions of dollars from it. I would like some of the money because well that just is not fair. I am interested to see how far this lawsuit goes. Seems crazy. I wonder how many other professors have gotten away with something like this or maybe how many professors thought of doing something like this. Also, I don’t think the money should go to the University and it doesn’t make sense to me why it would…

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