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Scientist faces questions over credentials for honor

(China Daily)

15:23, August 25, 2011

A mouse with what looks like a human ear on its back. The scientist involved in the experiments has been accused of fraud and rejected by the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Provided to China Daily

BEIJING - Accusations of cheating are threatening to prevent a scientist famous for growing something resembling a human ear on the back of a mouse from attaining one of the highest honors for Chinese scientists.

Cao Yilin, a plastic surgeon, is a candidate to be an academician in the Chinese Academy of Engineering for his work to produce a Vacanti mouse - a laboratory mouse sprouting what appears to be a human ear from its back. He was nominated to be an academician on May 25.

About a month later, his former colleagues accused him of cheating in an article appearing in Oriental Outlook magazine. Cao was refused as an academician candidate on Aug 17.

China Daily could not reach Cao on Wednesday.

In 1997, after studying for six years in the United States, Cao published research on his attempts to grow "human ears" on the backs of mice. His seemingly successful results kindled hope in the prospect of producing artificial organs. Cao later returned to China to continue his studies at Shanghai Jiao Tong University's school of medicine.

Cao's work in plastic surgery was successful enough to give him the reputation of being an expert in that specialty. Then came the accusations of cheating, which appeared both in the magazine article and on the Internet.

Cao's critics said he had wasted 300 million yuan ($42.6 million) in his fraudulent attempts to get mice to grow human ears. They said the ears he actually did produce were made from cartilage taken from cows.

However, along with critics, Cao also has defenders.

"This is purely an attempt to frame him," said Ding Xiaobang, a plastic surgeon at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences' plastic surgery hospital. "This has the single aim of confusing the people who are selecting academicians."

Ding and Cao together studied plastic surgery from 1999 to 2002. Ding said he helped Cao in his experiments and that he has faith in Cao's statements about his research.

"This is called tissue engineering, which means that scientists use different kinds of cells to build organs and then transplant the organs to animals or people," Ding said on Wednesday.

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Leave your comment2 comments

  1. Name

PD User at 2011-08-26202.158.179.*
A can of worms. Why can"t people stand up in their true names and make whatever accusations they want to make against anyone, in the open, instead of hiding in the dark and shooting poinonous arrows at their victims. As a first reaction, I am of the feeling that its jealousy at work again. That is the problem with the so called "scholars" in this country. Instead of spending time doing creative work, they sink to the level of plotting and scheming, to pull down others they are unable to match. Don"t tell me that the spirit of vigor and cleanliness once injected into the populace upon the establishment of New China has now disappeared, and that the rot endemic in the old mandarin culture and palace eunuchs have made a comeback again.
Tomy ZGB at 2011-08-26124.17.118.*
This is the truly great achievement of tissue engineering. It is a marvelous milestone of organ tissue engineering.

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