The University of Missouri is suing a former pharmacy professor from its Kansas City campus, alleging he stole a student's research and sold it to a pharmaceutical company.
The suit, first reported in the Kansas City Star, alleges that Professor Ashim Mitra defrauded the university of millions of dollars in potential royalties from the drug. Because the student was employed as a graduate research assistant, the university states, profit from the nanotechnology he developed belongs to the university.
The suit comes a few months after the newspaper reported that Mitra exploited international students, including Kishore Cholkar and Kamesh Kuchimanchi, professionally and personally by taking credit for their work and requiring them to run personal errands.
The students, all from India, complained to the Star that they feared Mitra had the power to revoke their student visas.
The Star found that over Mitra's 24 years as a leader in the UMKC School of Pharmacy, the professor compelled his students to act as his personal servants. They hauled equipment and bused tables at his social events. They were expected to tend his lawn, look after his dog and water the house plants, sometimes for weeks at a time when he and his wife were away, the newspaper reported about the investigation. The Star talked to nearly a dozen former students about Mitra's demands. Dozens more declined to go on the record for this story.
"The complaint I received earlier this afternoon from the curators of the University of Missouri was unexpected and disappointing," Mitra told the Star. "All of the alleged wrongdoing on the part of myself and my wife can be proven to be false."
Without commeting on the controversy, Mitra resigned from the university, effective March 31.