Medical expert claims scholar faked research

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 May, 2009, 12:00am

A prominent leukaemia expert has been accused of stealing research from a former colleague - a serious charge rarely levelled in medical academia on the mainland.

Lu Daopei , former director of Peking University's Institute of Haematology, held a press conference to claim Huang Xiaojun , the current director, stole his work and faked data in 14 publications. Dr Huang could not be reached for comment. Professor Lu is a pioneer in bone marrow transplants. He oversaw Dr Huang's PhD when the student joined his team in the 1990s.

The accusations were widely reported on scientific research websites as rarely, if ever, has an established scholar made such severe public charges against a student. Campuses cherish the Confucian ideal that teachers should protect students as their children, and students in turn should respect teachers as parents.

'It is a sad move [to hold a press conference]. Our relation is teacher and disciple, after all,' Professor Lu was quoted by The Beijing News as saying. 'But in his papers, different groups of rodents were used in different experiments, which produced the same mean and standard deviation data. How can it be possible? I feel regret that one of my students turned out like him. We need to bring the academic ethics issue to society and let the public keep an eye on it.'

At the centre of the debate is who developed a transplantation technology called GIAC that has been widely adopted in recent years.

Dr Huang claimed that he single-handedly developed the technology and won numerous medical awards. But Professor Lu said he created and named the technology.

Peking University Health Science Centre set up an investigation committee attended by top experts in the field after they received Professor Lu's report, according to administrative director Xiao Yuan .

'Both scientists have made enormous contributions to the centre and the university, so the administration is extremely concerned,' Mr Xiao said. 'The committee has heard testimony from both sides and carried out an unbiased investigation. The conclusion holds that it is an academic debate between two experts and the school will remain neutral on their disagreement.'

In a letter last month to Professor Lu and Dr Huang, Peking University said the committee had not found conclusive evidence that the latter had breached academic ethics by pilfering and data manipulation, but the committee did find several errors in Dr Huang's papers.