Good Practices

Fraud results in prison for the guilty party

Biophysician Dong-Pyou Han, a former researcher from the University of Iowa in the United States, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for fabricating and falsifying data from the clinical trials of a vaccine against the HIV virus, which causes AIDS.  Han, 58, will also have to repay $7.2 million to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the leading U.S. biomedical research-funding agency, which had financed his work in recent years.  In 2013, the scientist was dismissed from the university after an investigation concluded that he had falsified the results of several experiments involving vaccines.  In one of the cases, he mixed samples of rabbit blood with human anti-HIV antibodies, giving the impression that the animals had developed immunity.  The accusations reached the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI), responsible for investigating suspected misconduct in federally funded research, which banned Han from obtaining assistance from agencies for a three-year period.  According to the journal Nature, the case might have ended there had it not attracted the attention of Republican Senator Charles Grassley, well known in the U.S. Congress for investigating episodes of scientific misconduct.  Grassley denounced the case in the press and a prosecutor took Han to court.  “The ORI penalty seems trivial for someone who adulterated clinical trials and wasted millions of taxpayer dollars,” Grassley said.