Probe further on scientist's contested claims, university advised

An independent review has recommended that Memorial University investigate all claims against controversial researcher Ranjit Chandra, even though he no longer works there.

Memorial's policies sound, Toronto-based researcher concludes

An independent review has recommended that Memorial University of Newfoundland investigate all claims against controversial researcher Ranjit Chandra, even though he no longer works there.

Memorial commissioned Toronto-based researcher Paul Pencharz to review how the university dealt with complaints involving Chandra, whose research on nutrition and immunology came under strong criticism by world experts.

Pencharz, a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, concluded that Memorial's policies and procedures regarding research integrity were sound and in keeping with national guidelines.

However, Pencharz, a nutritional expert who also works with the Hospital for Sick Children, recommended that the university should set the record straight and investigate all allegations of scientific misconduct against Chandra, who retired from the university in 2002.

In 2005, the journal Nutrition retracted a Chandra-authored paper that it published in 2001, which claimed a connection between a specific combination of vitamins and minerals and improvement in cognitive skills in seniors.

Chandra was the subject of a three-part documentary on CBC's The National in 2006.

Concerns about Chandra's research were first flagged internally in the early 1990s, when his own research nurse, Marilyn Harvey reported that some of Chandra's published research had never happened.

Pencharz made several other recommendations, including that Memorial should:

  • Establish a data repository into which all scientists at the university be required to deposit their data.
  • Establish the position of a scientific misconduct review officer.
  • Create whistle-blower protection to shield against retaliation.
  • Advocate for establishment of a national research integrity agency.

Chandra is suing the CBC and Memorial University for defamation. CBC News is defending the documentary on Chandra. The next court date is scheduled for Feb. 7 in Toronto.