Friday, June 11, 2010

Brahmachari's Lies and Fraud of OSDD Exposed in Nature!

Samir Brahmachari and his new his sidekick Rajesh Gokhale are again exposed in the Media, for their fraud and lies, this time in the latest Nature article, for their hype of OSDD. The two were last scene cowardly hiding behind well-orchestrated blog rebuttals by their coterie of young recruits, after the Nature expose.

Six months earlier, in another PR fiasco (see article), the duo failed miserably in a PR Stunt to convince the Indian public that they had done a revolutionary act by sequencing a Indian human genome. Esteemed Indian scientist spoke up and exposed Brahmachari and Gokhale for having done nothing new and for having wasted Indian taxpayer dollars.

To cover up that PR fiasco, Bamboozling Brahmchari and Rajesh Gokhale (who himself called OSDD a fraud), have now attempted to cover their tracks by an even bigger lie befitting a Bolloywood script.

In this new scene, Brahamchari, (a professed fan of Hitler and Hitler’s BIG LIE approach) is going to save the world, win the Nobel Prize, using impoverished students, “high science” and “annotation of the TB Genome”, to cure TB, through Open Source --- All wonderful elements for the front page of any Bollywood rag.

The only thing Brahmachari should get now is jail time and perhaps leave to go study at RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts) so he gets his formal professional affiliation as an Actor.

Fortunately, a courageous reporter at Nature, K.S. Jayaraman has raised questions about OSDD, and is now under the crosshairs of Bhramachari and his coterie of sychophants. Most deplorable is how Brahmachari has recruited students to join his theatrical parade by giving away laptops and a false sense of “scientific collaboration” and Indian patriotism.

Ironically, Brahmachari, an Indian, himself is singularly responsible for the oppression of thousands of innovative CSIR Indian scientists, by putting in place larger number of incompetent Directors who do his bidding, but ensure anyone competent or of significant creativity who expresses dissent or differing views is demolished overnight --- not the basis for Science, Truth or Innovation.

The current PR of “annotation of the TB genome” is Mr. Brahmachari’s continuing “big lie” and hype tactic. This time, however, not only esteemed Indian scientists but also prominent International Scientists have severely criticised the PR stunt around TB annotation. A new Nature article, now in press, itself has brought Brahmachari’s lies and fraud to worldwide attention.

S K Brahmachari is a fraud as a scientist. He uses a coterie of other frauds such as Vinod Scaria and Zakir Thomas, who do not even have a PhD in life sciences. And those who claim to be scientists and are at Director Level in CSIR labs (such as Rajesh Gokhale of IGIB) make bizarre and ludicrous assertions that there is no need for peer review and publication of scientific findings.

While Brahmachari may have swayed early media reports in his favour by his gimmicks; he terribly failed to impress prominent scientists by his bluffing. Following are some of the comments about TB annotation claims made by prominent scientists and even the partner organizations of OSDD:

· John Quackenbush (Professor of computational biology and bioinformatics at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, USA): “Annotation is a challenging job requiring specialists, and I doubt if students with little experience can do this. It is unfortunate the Indian group made these claims before outsiders had a chance to review the students' data. The worst thing you can do to your country is to oversell your science.”

· James Galagan (Associate Director of microbial genome analysis at the Broad Institute, USA): “Until we are able to review the data from the India group, it will be hard to know how well they dealt with issues of quality control, standardization and clear quantitative metrics — difficult but non-trivial issues with annotation projects.”

· Richard Jefferson (CEO, Cambia, Australia) who is the only international partner of OSDD says: “External validation of these annotations experimentally and computationally remains to be done, and will clearly need to be subject to peer review…. Until then… the contributions will be conjectural.” He also admitted that OSDD team has “oversold” its work.

· Dr K. Anil Kumar (Principal scientist at the Institute of Life Sciences in Hyderabad, a partner in the OSDD project) says: “I guess there was a lot of pressure on the OSDD team to hurry up; validation was sidelined as it takes time.”

· Dr. Pushpa Bhargava (Founding-Director, CCMB, Hyderabad, a lab of CSIR) says that the claims that the team had identified a candidate drug molecule and that students reliably annotated the genome so quickly "are simply hilarious".

Mr. Brahmachari and his cronies are thus proved as big time LIARS once again, and a disgrace to Indian Science. What does Mr. Brahmachari gets by making such foolhardy claims? We hope he is not taking his public claims of winning Noble Prize due to OSDD too seriously.

Brahmachari is driven by two motives: (1) PR for himself and fame and (2) Moving money for those who financed his being made Ad Hoc Director General. Note, Lalji Singh was to become DG, and at the last minute a Bengali mafia paid off Minister of S&T to put incompetent Brahmachari in place.

OSDD is part of the entire game. It is not only a PR stunt to boost the image of 'unreal' scientists, but also a clever model to siphon off crores of tax-payers money in the name of research. The reality of this is substantiated from the recent claim of Dr. T.K. Chakraborty (Director, CDRI) on the eve of 59th Annual Day of CDRI: "Phase III clinical trials, to evaluate the hepatoprotective effect of Picroliv in patients of tuberculosis receiving multi-drug treatment has been concluded. The data has been compiled and detailed analysis is in progress. An interim analysis of the data shows enhanced clinical recovery in Picroliv treated tuberculosis patients."

If a drug is already in such an advanced stage of development and that too within a CSIR lab then what is the purpose of OSDD TB research?

What is the recent talk of a very early stage lead molecule for TB cure being given to Jubilant Chemsys by IGIB for further research and development?

This shows a public-private nexus to gain from tax-payers' money. Moreover, the Scientific Committees made for OSDD has majority of members that are either friends/colleagues/subordinates to S K Brahmachari and/or direct beneficiaries of the government money (and not top-league international scientists).

For example, Gokhale (IGIB, Delhi) is in the scientific committee and Raghava (IMT, Chandigarh) and Andrew Lynn (JNU, Delhi) are part of budget committee and all of them enjoy the benefits of grant money (in fact being the biggest beneficiaries). With such people in committees, not all expenses (direct or indirect) relating to OSDD is available for public scrutiny.

During an investigative inquiry, S K Brahmachari refused to provide answers to Nature Reporter.

Why is he afraid to hold an Open Forum with international scientists to prove or disprove his claims?

The call for Open Forum was first made by Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai and Dr. Deepak Sardana in October 2009 when they revealed inappropriate conducts of CSIR Leadership (link to report). They raised doubts and several questions about CSIR-Tech, OSDD, Soleckshaw, hiring of individuals for important positions, and several big-ticket government sponsored research in a Nature Commentary (link)

S K Brahmachari never answered those questions and continued to carry on with his unethical corporate governance style, perhaps with full support of Prithviraj Chavan (Minister for S&T). In such a short period of time they have completely stultified the reputation of CSIR and transformed it into Corrupt Society of Indian Researchers.

It is now time for CSIR scientists to stand up for Indian Science, petition for the immediate ouster of Brahmachari and his coterie, speak up as other Scientists have done to expose the hype, so Indian science can truly flourish in an environment of openness, freedom and transparency.

[Also see the previous article titled "Proof that OSDD Claims are LIES" on our blog]

Proof that OSDD Claims are LIES

We will first lay out his ‘scientific’ claims on this matter and then provide proof to you that what Brahmachari and his cronies has been saying is nothing but a LIE.

Following are the claims that Brahmachari and his cronies have made to the media and Indian public:

  • “As of today we’ve annotated nearly 98% of the MTB. That concludes a major phase of the OSDD project and is a big step forward for science.” – S K Brahmachari (This he considers a big step because of the belief that only 25- 40% of TB genes have been annotated).

  • The official letter dated 27th Oct. 2009 sent by Zakir Thomas, Project Director OSDD, states the following: "Though Mtb was sequenced a decade back, the standard databases have not annotated more than 1000 of the near 4000 genes encoded by the organism. This is symptomatic of the problem of neglected diseases of the poor. OSDD is taking up the challenge of annotating all possible genes in Mtb and hopes that your institution would join this massive effort."

  • “The TB genome was sequenced in 1998, but more than half the genes in the genome did not have any function attached to them.” – Vinod Scaria

  • “We wanted to collect all the information in one place.” – Vinod Scaria

  • “This is the first time that a comprehensive mapping of the M. tuberculosis genome has been compiled, verified and made publicly available." – S K Brahmachari

Now let us verify these claims in the light of scientific TRUTH. Here are things you should perhaps review and explore:

• “Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv was first isolated in 1905, has remained pathogenic and is the most widely used strain in tuberculosis research. The complete genome sequence and annotation of this strain was published in 1998 (Cole et al., 1998 ). The information from this project was incorporated into the public database TubercuList which was created using the GenoList model (Moszer et al., 2002).” [Refer to Microbiology 148 (2002), 2967-2973]

• “Presently, it is possible to assign a function to 2058 proteins (52% of the 3995 proteins predicted) and only 376 putative proteins share no homology with known proteins and thus could be unique to M. tuberculosis.” [Refer to Microbiology 148 (2002), 2967-2973]

• “This document provides a brief description of how we generated the annotation for the finished genome of M. tuberculosis F11 strain.” [Refer to:]

• “We are happy to announce the integration of TB Diversity Sequencing dataset generated by Sebastien Gagneux and Peter Small through The Broad Institute Genomic Sequencing Center for Infectious Diseases (GSCID) established by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). TBDB now provides users the ability to search and compare 30+ sequenced strains selected to represent the phylogenetic diversity of TB.” [Refer to: TBDB]

Other web links of interest:

1. Sanger Institute's TB initiative

2. J Craig Venter Institute - TB work

3. What is Genome Annotation?

From the above one can CONCLUDE the following things:

• The genome had been sequenced and efforts on annotation were on-going. Scientists have been trying to find the function of all the genes. And, that they were already more than 50% through with annotation of TB in 2002 itself and that TB database (supported by The Gates Foundation) have already done this job and made it publicly available.

• Existence of publicly available databases for TB gene sequence and annotation, some of them have been discussed above. One database is in Pasteur Institut; the other one is in Stanford (which is being supported by Gates Foundation)

In fact, 'real' scientists have already made huge progress in developing diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics for TB (and OSDD team deliberately chose to not acknowledge them):

TB Diagnotics - Commercially available diagnostic kits being sold by Cellestis

TB Vaccines - New TB Vaccine for the World by AERAS

TB Therapeutics - "Sequella Inc. receives Orphan Drug Status for SQ109 from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency, entitling Sequella Inc. to seven years of market exclusivity for SQ109 for the treatment of patients with tuberculosis."