Ed. note: Federal lawsuit filings have "summary" pages that list a specific amount the plaintiff demands. When I looked it up yesterday, the "demand" field read $10 billion (actually, "$10000000000"). This morning, it reads only $9,990,000.
A man who got his PhD at Harvard says the university and the professor he worked with tried to cheat him out of royalties on his work to develop a way to create new antibiotics - and threatened his future when he refused to acquiesce.
Mark Charest is seeking lost royalties and damages.
In his suit, filed Friday in US District Court in Boston, Charest says he was recruited to Harvard for a PhD in organic chemistry in 1999 by Andrew Myers, specifically to help Myers figure out how to synthesize new types of tetracycline. According to the suit, Myers had been unable to crack the problem, but Charest figured out a way to make new variants of the antibiotic, creating the potential for fighting off bacteria that had developed resistance to existing drugs.
Charest alleges that Harvard and Myers then attempted to downplay Charest's contributions and reduce the royalties he would be due from the company Harvard spun out to capitalize on the work. He alleges the university went so far as to file bogus patent applications in an attempt to reduce the monetary value of his work, by assigning royalty amounts to the new applications - which the university then never followed through with.
At one point, Charest charges:
Dr. Myers told Dr. Charest to "tread lightly" and "be careful."
Dr. Myers told Dr. Charest "to think about [his] career."