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Posted on Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 7:54 a.m.

Former cancer researcher at U-M sentenced for sabotaging student's work

By Staff

A former postdoctoral researcher at the University of Michigan's Comprehensive Cancer Center who pleaded guilty to malicious destruction of property in the sabotage of a graduate student's work is awaiting word on restitution in the case.

Vipul Bhrigu pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor in June in 15th District Court in Ann Arbor. Judge Elizabeth Pollard Hines sentenced him in July to six months of probation and more than $9,500 in fines and costs.

Details of the case were reported Wednesday by the journal Nature.

Authorities say Bhrigu tampered with experiments and was caught after police set up hidden cameras in a research lab. Bhrigu now is living in India. He told Nature: "It was a complete lack of moral judgment."

A hearing on restitution is Oct. 26.



Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 7:45 a.m.

I agree with "trespass." needs to go beyond superficial reporting, not only in this article, but on other topics as well. This website is just headlines and a short article with no depth or follow-up. Might as well be reading


Fri, Oct 1, 2010 : 7:09 p.m.

The sabotaged experiments cost the federal taxpayer that supported the research grant. It is the University's responsibility to supervise post-doctoral fellows, therefore, there is a responsibility to reimburse the federal granting agency for the misconduct. Has the misconduct been reported to the granting agency? Has the UM provided reimbursment? There is more to this story than the students responsibility. Why doesn't do some investigative reporting and find out the rest of the story rather than just doing the easy part of reading the Nature article?


Fri, Oct 1, 2010 : 1:05 a.m.

I'm curious why a local story has to be reported in an international Journal before it appears in our local "paper"? Why was there no story back in July or June?


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 2:42 p.m.

Totally not making excuses. I was a graduate student. I know what it's like to do experiments over and over with no results. And I can only imagine what it would be like to find out that the reason is sabotage. It's wrong, there's no excuse, he got caught, and in my opinion got off too easily. But someone posed the question of what benefit there could be to sabotaging someone else's work. I am simply providing the likely reason. It's the same reason some kids cheat at school. It's never right, but when there's pressure to succeed at all costs, ethics are compromised.


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 1:22 p.m.

It doesn't matter how much competition there is among co-workers in a particular setting. Sabotage is WRONG and illegal. Instead of making excuses for the criminal (the environment creates this problem, etc), how about thinking more about the victims.


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 11:18 a.m.

Absolutely a lack of proper behavior. And I can't even say that this was a competitive lab environment. I am just saying that any work environment that fosters competition between employees that should be working together invites this kind of thing.


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 11:15 a.m.

"a competitive lab environment leads to people doing things they shouldn't." Competition? Or just a lack of proper behavior??


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 10:22 a.m.

Just to clarify, the article says that this was a postdoctoral researcher. This means that most likely he is a doctor in the PhD sense, not in the MD sense (MDs who do research under a professor are usually referred to as clinical fellows). So there's no danger that he will be "practicing" medicine in India (unless he also has a medical degree). As to what he had to gain from sabotaging others' work, some labs are extremely competitive and force members to race each other for results. I was fortunate to work in a lab for 6 years that did not operate this way, but I have seen the desperation that it causes in people. His actions were completely wrong, but a competitive lab environment leads to people doing things they shouldn't... like sabotaging others' work or fabricating data.


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 9:53 a.m.

Question What can the researcher have to gain to sabotage a graduate student's work Does good work make him look bad????


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 9:41 a.m.

So much for working for the greater good? Not really too surprised considering all the freaking egos! Vipul Bhrigu, you've really have sunk to a new low. Shame!


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 9:03 a.m.

Wow sure have been quite a few unflattering articles regarding UofM employees or affiliates recently... Seems they'd rather hire criminals than allow law abiding citizens on their campus.


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 8:40 a.m.

So, now he ends "practicing" medicine in India. Or worse still, ends up being Tech Support for Dell..or Comcast...or VISA.

Saline Character

Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 8 a.m.

In 'absentia"? The article says he now lives in does the courts ever expect to enforce his sentence? How about canceling his visa, etc, and never allow him back in the USA again?


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 7:15 a.m.

Yeah it sure was a lapse in judgment, and that makes me wonder what other doctors cheated to get where they are...