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Incoming pharmacy faculty dean withdraws from position over summer

Wasan and co-authors failed to cite passages taken from an earlier book review
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Faculties of Medicine, Social Work, and School of Graduate Studies all carry scholarships for Black students in STEM.JORDAN AHARONI/THE VARSITY
Faculties of Medicine, Social Work, and School of Graduate Studies all carry scholarships for Black students in STEM.JORDAN AHARONI/THE VARSITY

This past year saw both exciting announcements and alarming uncertainty coming from the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. U of T unveiled their pick for the next pharmacy faculty dean in July 2018. Less than a year later, in June 2019, its new hire, Professor Kishor Wasan, had withdrawn from his appointment.

A book review in The Lancet, co-written by Wasan, who was a Professor and Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan, was found to contain “substantial passages” from another review of the same book.

The article, which was titled “A check-up on Canada’s health system,” has since been retracted due to its similarity to a review written by André Picard, a reporter and columnist for The Globe and Mail. Both Picard and Wasan wrote reviews on Danielle Martin’s book Better Now: Six Big Ideas to Improve Health Care for All Canadians.

Wasan was slated to become U of T’s newest Dean and Professor of the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy for a five-year term, meant to serve in his role from July 1, 2019 until June 30, 2024. However, in a statement made to The Varsity, university spokesperson Elizabeth Church confirmed that Wasan had voluntarily withdrawn from his upcoming position following The Lancet’s retraction of his book review.

The retraction notice published by The Lancet in May does not explicitly allege that any plagiarism took place. This may be due in part to Wasan’s explanation that he and his co-authors credited Picard in earlier drafts of their review, but that the citation was removed without appropriate modifications to the text.

He contends that the citation was dropped in order to accommodate more of his and his co-authors’ perspectives. However, due to an accidental oversight, no additions were made to replace Picard’s ideas.

Speaking to Medscape Medical News, Wasan admits that he is “partly responsible,” but maintains that he and his co-authors “did not intend to deceive.”

Wasan was also previously the Chair and Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of British Columbia, where he co-founded the Neglected Global Diseases Initiative, a body meant to develop interventions for infectious diseases of poverty.

Wasan will not be returning to his original position as Professor and Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan. His term officially ended there in June 2019.

Professor Lisa Dolovich, who teaches at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, will serve as Interim Dean for a one-year term.

Wasan did not respond to The Varsity’s requests for comment.