Former Iowa State Researcher Sentenced for Making False Statements
DES MOINES, IA—On July 1, 2015, Dr. Dong Pyou Han, age 58, appeared in United States District Court and was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison based on his earlier guilty pleas to two counts of making false statements to the National Institutes of Health. Sentence was imposed by United States Senior District Court Judge James E. Gritzner, announced United States Attorney Nicholas A. Klinefeldt. Judge Gritzner also ordered that Dr. Han serve three years of supervised release following his release from federal prison. Dr. Han will be required to pay $7,216,890.12 in restitution to the National Institutes of Health.
United States Attorney Nicholas A. Klinefeldt stated, “It is important that we stand up not just for punishing the fraud committed against the United States government, but for the research that should be legitimately taking place on this devastating disease.”
According to the Indictment, while conducting research on behalf of Iowa State University, Dr. Han falsified scientific data to make it appear an experimental HIV/AIDS vaccine, gp41, neutralized, or controlled, the HIV/AIDS virus in rabbits, when in fact the vaccine did not. The Indictment further alleges that Dr. Han spiked sera samples from gp41-immunized rabbits with human sera containing HIV antibodies. The spiking of the rabbit samples made it appear that gp41 produced neutralizing antibodies against the HIV/AIDS virus. The false data was reported to the National Institutes of Health in a research grant application and funded grant progress reports.
In his plea agreement, Dr. Han admitted he provided false data reported in National Institutes of Health Grant Application, “Enhancing B cell immunity against HIV-1 using novel vaccine delivery platforms” and National Institutes of Health Progress Report, “Characterization of immunogenic and structural properties of HIV-1 envelope.” Dr. Han also admitted that data derived from his spiking rabbit sera samples with human antibodies was reported to the National Institutes of Health.
“Taxpayers fund medical research with the hope that promising scientific breakthroughs will result in much-needed treatments and cures for patients. Because the money for medical research is limited and the need for scientific advances is great, funding decisions must be based on the best information available. When Dr. Han faked lab results—collecting scarce government medical research funding under false presentences—he recklessly betrayed the public’s trust,” said Special Agent in Charge Gerald T. Roy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. “Researchers who lie about their work will face the consequences.”
This case was investigated by the United States Department of Health and Human Services—Office of the Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.