Meet Anoop Shankar: He boasted a Ph.D. in epidemiology, and claimed to have “researched population-wide diseases.” He said he was a member of the Royal College of Physicians. He managed to obtain a “genius” visa to the United States and got millions in grant money.
But Shankar is a fraud.
In 2012 West Virginia University hand-picked this international star to help heal one of the country’s sickest states. At just 37, Shankar was nominated to the first endowed position in a new School of Public Health, backed by a million dollars in public funds. As chair of the epidemiology department, he was also poised to help the university spend tens of millions of additional tax dollars. “This is about improving healthcare and improving lives,” said university president Jim Clements, announcing a federal grant for health sciences. “We could not be more proud.”
But there was a problem: Shankar isn’t a Ph.D. He didn’t graduate from the Harvard of India. He didn’t write dozens of the scholarly publications on his resume, and as for the Royal College of Physicians, they’ve never heard of him. He does have a master’s degree in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina and an Indian medical degree, but at least two of his green card references—attesting to “world class creativity,” “genius insight,” and “a new avenue for treating hypertension”—were a forgery.
Ian Rockett of WVU’s School of Public Health played a key role in uncovering Shankar’s deception.
In the hopes of getting Rockett of his back, Shankar had concocted a devious scheme: According to Deeban Ganesan, to whom Shankar was an advisor, the ersatz Ph.D. persuaded Ganesan and another Shankar underling to accuse Rockett of sexual assault:
In their telling, Rockett’s door was closed and his mind was on sex, not suicide. As Ganesan began to talk, according to his discredited statement to the university, Rockett interrupted him.
“You Indians have nice brown skin,” Rockett allegedly said. “But you smell weird with the spices that you use for cooking.”
Right about then the grey-haired professor supposedly pulled his chair closer and snatched at the young man’s penis.
Teppala claimed that from the hallway, he could then hear Rockett rise from his chair and say loudly to Ganesan, “Here, taste my white c–k.”
This led to Rockett suing all three individuals for defamation. Meanwhile, WVU continued the investigation of Shankar, and ultimately the “genius doctor” ended up resigning in December of 2012.
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