Another day, another HIV vaccine failure: researcher quits after falsifying results #HIV #AIDS
I’m ALL for the idea of a viable HIV vaccine, but after so many failures (see below) maybe it’s time to put the entire idea under heightened scrutiny. Today’s failure involves a researcher who falsified his results and gained millions in federal dollars for his program – all for nothing:
Dr. Dong-Pyou Han was an assistant professor of biomedical sciences. He resigned in October after admitting responsibility, an ISU spokesman said.
The fraudulent results helped an ISU research team gain millions of dollars in federal money, according to Dr. James Bradac, who helps oversee AIDS vaccine grants for the National Institutes of Health.
Bradac said in a phone interview Monday that Han apparently added human blood components to the rabbit blood to skew the results. The human blood came from people whose bodies had produced antibodies to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, Bradac said. The presence of these antibodies in the rabbits’ blood made it appear that the vaccine was spurring the animals to build defenses against HIV. “This positive result was striking, and it caught everybody’s attention,” Bradac said.
Federal documents released Monday show the results were presented at numerous scientific meetings over several years. But researchers at other institutions became suspicious after they were unsuccessful in duplicating the ISU results.
The ISU team is led by Dr. Michael Cho, a biomedical professor who came to Ames several years ago from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. Bradac said Cho started receiving federal grants for the research in 2008, when he was at Case Western. Bradac said Han worked for Cho for about 15 years, and transferred to ISU with him. In all, the team was awarded about $19 million in multi-year grants, which also financed related research at several institutions. About $10 million of that money was awarded after Cho’s team reported “exciting results” that now appear to have been fraudulent, Bradac said.
University spokesman John McCarroll said Cho was alerted in January to possible problems with his team’s experiments. “At Iowa State’s request, the research samples in question were examined by researchers at another university; they confirmed samples had been spiked,” McCarroll wrote in an email to the Register.