In July of 2015, the Iowa District Court sentenced biomedical researcher and former Iowa State University fellow Dong-Pyou Han to 57 months in jail and fined him a staggering $7.2 million in restitutions for ‘Scientific Misconduct’.
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Han was convicted of altering the blood samples of rabbits to artificially boost HIV vaccine test results.
Those fraudulent results about how good his vaccine was led to receiving millions in grant donations. The sentence was unusual, and sparked debate about whether the punishment was appropriate.
Scientific fraud like Dong-Pyou Han ‘s is rare, but legal prosecution is basically unheard of, according to Daniele Fanelli, a meta-researcher at Stanford.
“This might have serious consequences on scientific progress…If you turn a judgement about scientific truthfulness into a legalistic manner, then scientists may get away with fraud thanks to have a good lawyer”
– Daniele Fanelli, Meta-Researcher, Stanford University
An investigation by the US Office of Research Integrity caught him in the act in 2013, and the agency subsequently imposed a ban on all research at Iowa State U for three years. The University was also forced to return $500,000 in grants. Criminal charges were laid on June 2014 after the case hit the mainstream media.
There’s 99 more stories from 2015. Check out the Best of 2015 series here