Professor Accused of Selling Student's Research for $1.5M

University of Missouri is suing pharmacy professor
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 28, 2019 3:57 AM CST
University Says Professor Stole, Sold Student's Research
   (Getty Images/Totojang)

The University of Missouri system is suing a pharmacy professor at its Kansas City campus over allegations he stole and sold a student's research, claiming that the school is the rightful owner of work it believes could be used to make a billion-dollar drug. The university has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that Ashim Mitra improperly made $1.5 million from selling former graduate student Kishore Cholkar's research, the Kansas City Star reports. Mitra could earn $10 million more in royalties over the next five years, according to the lawsuit. The university called Cholkar's work using nanotechnology to deliver drugs to the eye "ground-breaking," claiming that Mitra defrauded the school out of millions of dollars from the sale.

The lawsuit argues that the money belongs to the university because Cholkar developed his research while employed as a graduate research assistant, the AP reports. Mitra's wife, Ranjana, is also accused in the lawsuit of being involved in the alleged conspiracy. Mitra, who announced his resignation from the university last month, denies the accusations. According to the lawsuit, Mitra sold Cholkar's research to Auven Therapeutics Management, a pharmaceutical development company based in the US Virgin Islands. Auven then resold the work for $40 million, plus ongoing royalties, to Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, a company based in India. Sun Pharmaceutical received approval from the FDA in August to market the patented formulation in a dry-eye drug called Cequa.

(More University of Missouri stories.)

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