A former researcher at Iowa State University has been jailed for falsifying research into a possible HIV vaccine. 

The researcher, Dong-Pyou Han, was working under Michael Cho, on a project testing experimental HIV vaccines on rabbits. The rabbits appeared to be developing antibodies to fight HIV, which lead to the National Institute of Health (NIH) investing $7.2 million into the work.

Han said it all started with an accident when human and rabbit blood was inadvertently mixed – giving the illusion of new antibodies. But to avoid disappointing his mentor, Cho, he continued to spike the tests so as to give promising results. This led to the team announcing to the wider scientific community that they were on the verge of a vaccine breakthrough.

Later, in 2013, a team of researchers at Harvard University uncovered the truth – that the results had been spoked with human antibodies.

Judge James Gritzner sentenced Han to 57 months in prison and three years of supervision upon release. Han must repay the National Institute of Health $7.2 million.


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