Iowa State scientist sentenced to 57 months in prison for HIV vax trial fraud
- Dong-Pyou Han, a biomedical scientist formerly employed by the Iowa State University in Ames, has been sentenced to 57 months in prison for vaccine trial fraud.
- Han was fired by the university in 2013 after officials realized that he had fabricated or falsified data in several ongoing HIV vaccine studies. In one particularly glaring instance, Han mixed human HIV antibodies with rabbit blood in order to falsely show that the latter samples had developed an immunity to HIV, according to Nature.
- Han eventually confessed to the fraud before the university had concluded its investigation, and his criminal prosecution—advanced in part thanks to the strong condemnations of Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley (R)—began last June. Han plead guilty, and will be fined $7.2 million on top of his prison sentence.
The charges against Han were two counts of making false statements in order to obtain NIH research grants.
What's raised eyebrows in certain parts of the industry, where fraud, although not exactly commonplace, isn't unheard of, is the severity of Han's sentence relative to the nature of his crime. Many have speculated that the harsh sentence stems from Sen. Grassley's focus on the case.
For his part, Grassley has stated that such instances of scientific fraud should be met with just this level of outrage.