Controversy
US-based cancer centre says not part of IIT Madras event in which Ramdev is chief guest

The US-based MD Anderson Cancer Centre has clarified that it is not part of an IIT Madras event in which the institution has invited yoga instructor and businessman Baba Ramdev as the chief guest.

In a tweet, the research and treatment centre, which is based inside the University of Texas, said, “In the past, MD Anderson has sponsored this conference through its Global Academic Program. But this year, we’re not a sponsor. Our name and logo are being used without permission, and we’ve requested they be removed from promotional materials.”

A health watchdog, Retraction Watch, alerted the research centre about the conference material bearing the centre’s logos.

Ramdev has, in the past, claimed that yoga and medicines from his billion-dollar FMCG company, Patanjali, can cure cancer and AIDS, two terminal illnesses for which no comprehensive cure has been found by the scientific community thus far.

When Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma made the controversial remark last year about people with cancer suffering for the sins of their past, Ramdev agreed with him.

The theme of the conference, to be held in Chennai on February 8, Thursday, is ‘Cancer prevention and treatment: From Ancient Medicine to Modern Medicine’.

TNIE report, which quotes Retraction Watch, said that another organiser, Bharat Aggarwal, is also under the scanner. Retraction Watch, which tracks scientific paper retractions as a ‘window into the scientific process’, has listed Bharat against six corrections, two unexplained withdrawals and two Expressions of Concern. The Indian academic and scientist who works at Inflammation Research Centre, San Diego, has also allegedly also threatened to sue Retraction Watch.

According to the Houston Chronicle, an MD Anderson Cancer Centre spokesperson “attributed the institution's historic sponsorship of the conference to the involvement of two MD Anderson professors”.

According to the agenda of the conference, Sen Pathak of MD Anderson Cancer Centre was to provide the introduction to the Chief Guest, Baba Ramdev.

Speaking to TNM, D Karunagaran of the Department of Biotechnology at IIT Madras, said, “I have only seen on Twitter. I personally have not received any intimation from them regarding the conference.”