The University of Missouri has sued a former professor for fraudulently stealing and selling a graduate student’s research to a pharmaceutical company, potentially earning him millions of dollars in the future.
The lawsuit, filed by the university system in a federal district court in Kansas City, alleges that School of Pharmacy professor Ashim Mitra stole the research of Ph.D. student Kishore Cholkar on treatment for dry eye, The New York Times reported.
Mitra, who has been at the center of many controversies including mistreating foreign students, was placed under suspension last November and forced to tender his resignation in January while being investigated by school officials.
“That was my product, I worked day and night, and yet my name was not included,” Cholkar told the Star. “I was the only student who worked on that product. I put all my efforts into that product. I was cheated.”
The suit alleges Mitra and his wife Ranjana Mitra of fraudulently selling the research to a pharmaceutical company, Auven Therapeutics Management, who further sold it to India-based Sun Pharmaceutical Industries. Up until now, Mitra has received $1.5 million for the research. It is also projected that he could earn another $10 million in royalties over the next few years.
“The university seeks to restore its rightful ownership interest in and its resulting right to a fair share of the proceeds to be generated from the groundbreaking, patented inventions that led to this new F.D.A.-approved drug formulation,” the lawsuit reads.
So far, Mitra has denied any wrongdoing and has claimed that the research in question does not belong to Cholkar since he “arrived after the patent was signed.”
Meanwhile, the university continues to believe that the professor stole the research by flouting the school’s policy, causing losses amounting to millions.
“Mitra stole UMKC-owned inventions, sold them to industry, assisted those companies in patenting and commercializing them, denied credit to a deserving student and reaped a personal financial windfall,” the university said in a statement to CNN. “All the while concealing his efforts and denying his involvement.”