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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Scientists under the microscope?

(Global Times)

09:04, September 15, 2011

If only Duan Zhenhao’s wife hadn’t blown the whistle, he would likely still be living the high life with multiple mistresses, a renowned reputation and perhaps the author of a scientific breakthrough or two.

Duan is the former director of a key laboratory at the Institute of Geology and Geophysics with the China Academy of Sciences (CAS). His work has received peer recognition and he was nominated for full-fledged membership in CAS last May.

His world fell apart in early July when a woman claiming to be his wife exposed him online as a philanderer and the father of a daughter with another woman. She told the world that he kept mistresses and embezzled scientific research fund for their travel.

Duan’s arrest was announced by CAS on July 21. He has been detained since then.

Insiders in the scientific community lament that Duan was simply unlucky. “It is an open secret that many scientists divert some research funds and grants for their personal use. What happened to Duan would make many rats in the circle laugh. A false travel claim is very minor. No one wants to unmask the thing,” said a professor at a Shanghai university, suggesting the scientific community’s misuse of government funding is rampant. She spoke only on condition her name not be used.

While numerous experts have blogged on the issue expressing doubts about how funds are granted and managed, only a few scientists or professors with knowledge of the issues would consent to be interviewed even when the Global Times offered anonymity.

A professor who had previously written about inappropriate allocation of funds and the improper use of grants refused further comment, citing an order from his university. Another told the Global Times that he wouldn’t discuss the issue in public for fear of offending people he may later have to rely on. Yet another professor said he didn’t want to disrupt the “harmonious atmosphere” in the science community.

Last year, two professors cracked open the lid on shady granting practices and shoddy accounting of funding in China’s science community when they published an exposé in Science magazine published in the US. Shi Yigong, a professor and dean of the School of Life Sciences at Tsinghua University, and Rao Yi, professor and dean of the School of Life Sciences at Peking University, co-authored the article, criticizing China’s science funding mechanism and the community’s culture of greed.

The article has been refuted by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), which is responsible for major scientific and research programs and projects.

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Leave your comment2 comments

  1. Name

Santana at 2012-02-28137.90.241.*
How does this thng come about all of a sudden
PD User at 2011-09-16124.64.103.*
"The article has been refuted by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), which is responsible for major scientific and research programs and projects."The article has NOT been refuted by the MOST; refuted means undeniably proven false or wrong. It has, at best, been rejected or they have disputed its conclusions - in fact in this case the MOST is obviously covering its rather plump, scientific grant-bloated ass. A disgraceful situation of course, but no excuse for sloppy use of English!

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