A professor is accused of stealing a student's invention to make millions

Article Image

The University of Missouri-Kansas City has filed a lawsuit against a former professor, alleging that he stole and sold his graduate student's research for $1.5 million.

Posted: Mar. 3, 2019 1:30 PM
Updated: Mar. 3, 2019 1:30 PM

The University of Missouri-Kansas City has filed a lawsuit against a former professor, alleging that he stole and sold his graduate student's research for $1.5 million.

The suit, filed this week, says Ashim Mitra swiped a "groundbreaking" drug formulation from the student and stands to gain as much as $10 million more in royalties.

Mitra, who has resigned from the university, denied the allegations to CNN.

Also named in the lawsuit are Mitra's wife, who worked in her husband's lab, and two pharmaceutical companies that used the invention.

The university alleges Mitra worked in secret with the companies to develop the patent, which outlines an innovative way of delivering drugs to the eye using nanotechnology

The pharmaceutical product has recently received FDA approval, the university said. It's a treatment for dry eye, an ailment common to the elderly.

The university's contention

In a statement to CNN, the university said:

"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 -- all the while concealing his efforts and denying his involvement."

The lawsuit seeks to designate the student, Kishore Cholkar, as the rightful inventor to the patent based on his research from 2010.

The university policy is that it owns the rights to discoveries made by staff and students while they are working at the university. When commercial rewards are reaped, the inventor is entitled to one-third of the profits and the school keeps the remaining two-thirds, the school said.

The professor's reaction

Reached by phone Thursday, the professor denied the allegations and told CNN that Cholkar doesn't deserve credit for the patent.

"Everyone is trying to jump in and get a piece of the pie," he said.

He said he conceived of the formulation with the drug companies through his private consultancy business, adding that "the student arrived after the patent was signed."

Cholkar's work involved a part of the eye not affected by the drug, Mitra said.

He added that he's consulting with his lawyers on how best to tackle the lawsuit.

Cholkar, the student, now works at a California-based pharmaceutical company. CNN has reached out to Cholkar for comment.

Article Comments

Terre Haute
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 64°
Robinson
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 64°
Indianapolis
Scattered Clouds
65° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 65°
Rockville
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 64°
Casey
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 64°
Brazil
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 64°
Marshall
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 64°
Rain and storms possible for Memorial Day.
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Saturday Night Weather Update

Image

What does Memorial Day mean to you?

Image

Sunday Morning Weather Update

Image

Honoring veterans this holiday weekend

Image

Saturday Morning Weather Update

Image

Friday Late Forecast

Image

Local drive-in set to hold fundraiser for animal rescue group

Image

You can "Fill the Boot" this weekend to help sick kids

Image

INDOT announces plans to close Vigo County road for a day next week

Image

A busy travel weekend ahead

WTHI Events