Scientist Who Studied Mosquitoes and Disease Transmission Commits “Suicide”

Sunday, November 21, 2010
By Paul Martin

Police: USF biologist dies in an apparent suicide by cyanide

TampaBay.com

TEMPLE TERRACE — A University of South Florida molecular biologist died Monday night in an apparent suicide by cyanide at a Temple Terrace hotel, police said.

Chitra Chauhan, 33, of Tampa was pronounced dead at University Community Hospital about 10:30 p.m., Temple Terrace police reported.

The discovery of the toxic substance also prompted evacuation of 75 to 100 guests at the Extended Stay America hotel on Morris Bridge Road, where Chauhan had taken a room.

Chauhan was a post-doctoral researcher in the Global Health department in the College of Public Health.

She has a 3-year-old child with her husband, Bharath Balu, who is also a researcher in the department.

A note was found at the scene. Police did not disclose the contents. According to a medical examiner’s report, Chauhan had made prior attempts.

Police got two 911 calls Monday night. One came from Chauhan’s husband, who said she called home to tell him she had taken cyanide, the report stated. Another call came after Chauhan stumbled out of her hotel room and told a couple in the hall.

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