MD Anderson: No, we did not co-sponsor this cancer conference

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Bharat Aggarwal

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, of Houston, is asking a conference on cancer in Chennai, India to stop claiming it is a co-sponsor.

The meeting was the subject of a story in The New Indian Express, which reported that Baba Ramdev, a prominent yogi “who had claimed that cancer is divine justice for sins committed,” would be the chief guest at the meeting. Ramdev is scheduled to address the conference for 45 minutes this Thursday, its opening day.

As the story noted, one of the organizers of the meeting is Bharat Aggarwal, a former MD Anderson faculty member who has had to retract 18 papers, mostly for image manipulation.

I raised concerns about the conference yesterday (Sunday) on Twitter. MD Anderson responded within hours to say first that they were looking into the matter, and then to say that while it had sponsored the conference in the past, it was not sponsoring it this year:

As of this posting, the conference’s site still listed MD Anderson as a sponsor:

According to The New Indian Express:

Previously, Ramdev had courted controversy over his claims that he had cured over 1,000 cancer and HIV patients through of the practice of yoga and concoctions marketed by his pharmacy Patanjali.

Neither Varsha Gandhi, nor Sen Pathak, two MD Anderson faculty members listed as organizers of the conference, immediately responded to requests for comment.

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