Washington, DC - Barely one week into the US Congressional investigation of authorities at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for allegedly removing the name of Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan from his invention and publication in retaliation, the FDA has offered Dr. Nyan royalty payment, but rejected by Dr. Nyan.
In a recent email communication dated April 4, 2016 from Alice Welch, the FDA's Director of Technology Transfer, the FDA requested Dr. Nyan to "provide the following information: full name, including middle name, social security number, home mailing address and telephone number, and banking information so that FDA can make the royalty payment to you".
The payment is in relation to what FDA refers to as "FDA technology #E-135-2014". The invention by Dr. Nyan, a former FDA ORISE Fellow, is a point-of-care multiplex diagnostic test for detection of viruses. Phone calls to Alice Welch for comments regarding the royalty offer to Dr. Nyan were not returned, while FDA authorities contacted also declined to comment. In a sharp response, Dr. Nyan has questioned the FDA's sudden royalty offer without prior discussions and also questioned how his invention became "FDA technology #E-135-2014."
Asked why he refused the FDA's offer of royalty for his invention, Dr. Nyan said he considers “the FDA's offer of so-called royalty as an attempt to bribe my conscious and legitimize their violation of my intellectual property rights."
Dr. Nyan further said that "FDA authorities have misused their power and wanted to illegally take my invention by removing my name from patent document we uncovered." Dr. Nyan is demanding the "full restoration of his rights to the invention and the corrective removal of names that do not even belong on the invention patent."
Dr. Nyan named Mr. Kevin Swinson, his research associate, as "the only scientist deserving of credit as co-inventor." Kevin Swinson, an African-American, has been Dr. Nyan's long time research associate when the invention was made. He, Mr. Swinson never worked at the FDA.
In an article published by FrontPageAfrica in January 2015, Dr. Nyan sounded an alarm stating that, "in a scientific environment where minorities and people of African descent are disadvantaged", Dr. Nyan expressed the hope that his "intellectual property rights will be fully protected and that the product of his invention will serve the poor and needed populations in society."
Dr. Nyan is a US citizen of African descent from Liberia, one of three West African countries severely affected by the recent Ebola epidemic. His name was allegedly removed from a patent document and scientific publication by FDA management authorities in "retaliation" for his testimony to the US Congress on the Ebola crisis.
The FDA's offer of royalty payment to Dr. Nyan comes after US Congressman Lamar Smith's (R-TX) March 17, 2016 inquiry letter to FDA Commissioner, Dr. Robert Califf and after the story was first published by the Washington Post. Congressman Smith's letter questions "whether it was legally sound for FDA management officials to exert rights to the Fellow's invention."
And, legal experts closely following the case have opined that the FDA, a federal agency, could be in serious violation of Federal Statues that protect scientists on federal academic Fellowships and their inventions.
Dr. Nyan was awarded an ORISE Federal Fellowship in March 2012 for his academic excellence and scientific achievements to work at the FDA on an invention he made prior to receiving the ORISE Fellowship Award.
It can be recalled that Dr. Nyan testified before the US Congress on September 17, 2014 on the Ebola crisis in West Africa in his capacity as Director of Liberia Emergency Response Task Force on the Ebola Crisis.
The Hearing was chaired by Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ). During his Congressional testimony, Dr. Nyan recommended the establishment of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Africa and requested for increased US support for the medical systems of the Ebola-affected countries of Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. Dr. Nyan testified alongside Dr. Kent Brantly and Dr. Anthony Fauci of the US National Institutes of Health.
Shortly after his testimony Dr. Nyan was placed under investigation by Dr. Deborah Taylor and Dr. Sanjai Kumar, two scientists in senior management position at the FDA's Division of Emerging and Transfusion Transmitted Diseases (DETTD) where Dr. Nyan worked on his invention. Dr. Nyan was subsequently terminated from his research fellowship position in December 2014 by Dr. Deborah Taylor.
Dr. Nyan's case against the FDA has generated international concern. Currently on a US-Liberia congressional exchange program, two members of the Liberian Legislature, Senator Conmany B. Wesseh of River Gee County and Representative Ben A. Fofana of Margibi County met with Staff of Congressman Lamar Smith to register concerns about the case and expression appreciation for the steps taken by the US Congressional Oversight Committee on Science, Space and Technology which Congressman Lamar Smith chairs.
The Liberian Legislators were accompanied by a member of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a US-based rights and democratic advocacy group. Interest in Dr. Nyan’s case against the FDA has also been increasing in the immigrant and African-American communities, particularly where the contributions of immigrants to the American society are often unrecognized, while immigration has been a hot campaign topic during this US primary electoral politics.