Worldwide research has always appeared to be a long way from finding a cure for AIDS. Following the criminal case of a former Iowa State University scientist, that goal will prove to be even more unreachable.
Dong-Pyou Han, 57, resigned from his laboratory manager in October 2013 after it was discovered he added human antibodies to rabbit blood to make the HIV vaccine he and his team were working on appear to show as if it was making leeway.
The result of his falsified data yielded $19 million in grant money from the National Institutes of Health.
Unlike most cases however, the magnitude of financial fraud was not unprecedented, making Han’s deception a pretty big deal. He was indicted last week on four counts of making false statements. If convicted, he could be sentenced to five years in prison for each count. He was also force to surrender his passport.
Ivan Oransky, co-founder of Retraction Watch, spoke to the Associated Press and said criminal cases in this particular area of medical research are rare, citing there have only been a handful of similar instances in the past 30 years.
“It’s an important case because it is extremely rare for scientists found to have committed fraud to be held accountable by the actual criminal justice system,” said Oransky. “It’s a pretty extraordinary case involving clear, intentional falsification,” admits Mike Carome, consumer advocate and director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. “The wool was pulled over many people’s eyes.”
Han was set to be arraigned yesterday (June 24) but didn’t show in court because the paperwork wasn’t properly documented. Oh, the irony.