Friday, June 27, 2014

Lab manager charged with making false statements by the feds

Dong-Pyou Han, who worked as a laboratory manager at the university, confessed to spiking samples of rabbit blood with human antibodies to make an experimental HIV vaccine appear to have great promise, the AP continues. Another lab uncovered irregularities that suggested the results were actually false, according to the criminal complaint. 
Han, 57, was indicted last week on four counts of making false statements, according to the indictment filed in federal court, and each count carries up to five years in prison, according to the news service, which adds that Han did not respond to calls for comment. 
The episode is attracting attention for a couple of reasons. For one, the research was considered very significant at the time and pumped up the scientific community about the possibilities of a breakthrough. Moreover, experts say it is unusual for the feds to file charges in situations where scientists have falsified data. 
“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,” Ivan Oransky, a physician and journalist who is co-founder of Retraction Watch, which tracks research misconduct, tells the AP. 
He explained that charges are rarely brought because the U.S. Office of Research Integrity, which investigates research misconduct, does not have prosecution authority, and most cases involve smaller amounts of money. Of course, the misconduct also wasted tax dollars by causing researchers to pursue notions based on false data....
I can't say that I feel very sorry for Dr. Han, although I am rather surprised that he's being brought up on federal charges. 


  1. Bring the MoviesJune 27, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    If he has a green card, revoke it, and deport the bum. Let him rot in Beijing under the Coal-fired smog, I say.

  2. Replies
    1. @1 -Then let him rot in Pyong Yong, Right?

    2. The guy is probably from South Korea. Let him rot in Seoul?

  3. What? Charges? How dare they accuse a PI of wrongdoing! What happened to academic freedom? What happened to the personal responsibility of the grant reviewers who couldn't be bothered to verify all the data before hand? Where is the free legal representation that will gum up the courts for years until the obviously biased, anti-science prosecutors give up?

    Oh wait. Lab manager? Well go ahead and hang him, then. Just don't let anything happen to that grant money!

  4. If the research was conducted under federal money, the feds will take a very dim view of having their money squandered. "Making false statements" is only the beginning and it's the simple one to hang around anyone's neck, if you talk to law enforcement. There are two lessons to be learned in the story: The first is a reiteration that falsifying data is bad...very bad. And the punishment should be severe for it, be it professional or legal.

    The second is just as valuable: There's a reason why we have a 5th Amendment to the US Constitution and I wish that more people would start using it. Professor James Duane from the Regent University Law School has an excellent 48 minute lecture on it at: I strongly recommend this to anyone who may have to deal with law enforcement.

  5. Concrete DovetailJune 30, 2014 at 11:29 AM

    It is not just money that is wasted - it is a position that involves the ability to do original research and apply for federal grants that is wasted on someone who falsifies data when a better scientist could have been given the position.