Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Cautionary Tale of Anil Potti

Anil Potti is a former Duke University researcher who was one of the catalysts for the promise of chemotherapy genomics, i.e. decoding a patient's cancer's genome and picking out which chemotherapy would work best at killing it. It's an amazingly fascinating concept and it's still actively pursued to see if there is something to salvage. The reason there is something needing to be salvaged, however, is because Dr. Potti fabricated data. All of it. This was going to be the 'next big thing' in medicine, right up there with regenerative medicine, as the panacea to one's (cancerous) ills. Thankfully other diligent researchers closely examined the data and found incongruities and finally brought the sham of research down. If there was a more open source method to data review, perhaps these inconsistencies would have surfaced sooner. Because of the current system's behind-closed-doors policy, real people were subjected to faulty research premises. While it has yet to be shown if the patients did not receive true standard-of-care, it begs the question. Open Science: it can save lives.

You can learn more about Dr. Anil Potti here, here, and here.

Also, you can look up Dr. Potti and find several websites full of stock photo images of doctors and smiling young people as he details all of his grand exploits and gleans over his recent misconduct. He also falsely claimed he was a Rhodes Scholar. So yeah, he's a real piece of work.

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