Prosecuting faked HIV vaccine results

Remember this?

Wait, what? Faked HIV vaccine results

The researcher accused of manipulating his reagents to ‘show his HIV vaccine strategy worked’ admitted he did it:

Investigators say former Iowa State University laboratory manager Dong-Pyou Han has confessed to spiking samples of rabbit blood with human antibodies to make an experimental HIV vaccine appear to have great promise.

And the government is prosecuting him for it:

Responding to a major case of research misconduct, federal prosecutors have taken the rare step of filing charges against a scientist after he admitted falsifying data that led to millions in grants and hopes of a breakthrough in AIDS vaccine research.

Well, I mean, thats nice. I support this, 100%.

BUT.

The NIH rarely, *rarely*, pursues criminal charges for fraudulent work.

So why this guy? Why now?

I have no idea who Dong-Pyou Han is. Its not like it was a Big Name in HIV vaccine research making things up. Han is no Beatrice Hahn or Peter Kwong. Sure he wanted to be a Big Dog, and was willing to cheat to get there, but its not like his work was a massive influence on the field.

Im actually having difficulty finding much at all from the guy, other than his miraculous/fake findings. A handful of middle-author papers.

So why, *exactly* are they prosecuting this guy?

Why not all these people?

Why not the people responsible for this?

I am all for prosecuting scientific misconduct. But this seems like an empty, arbitrary gesture. *shrug*

 

Comments

  1. #1 Narad
    June 26, 2014

    So why, *exactly* are they prosecuting this guy?

    It’s a good chunk of change. The criminal complaint is here, the indictment here (PDFs).

  2. #2 other kevin
    HMS
    June 26, 2014

    While probably an unpopular opinion…. And i do not 100% agree with it… from my understanding

    They are not prosecuting the XMRV cluster FU** because it is going to alienate an already alienated group of people. Some of those people have symptoms consistent with an infectious disease. Others have mental health issues. Regardless, It will only serve to create more miss-trust in science. The government also cannot just yank funding from labs that wrote grants to detect XMRV etc. They took on students, techs, and postdocs on the assumption the grant was funded. I know at least one honest postdoc who wasted 1-2 years of his life developing real assays to detect XMRV. The powers at work have decided that it is cheaper and easier to let the entire incident go and move on.

    That being said, I think they should investigate all cases of fraud and persecute all those responsible

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