Alzheimer's Researcher Indicted on Federal Fraud Charges for Allegedly Falsifying Data to Fraudulently Obtain $16 Million in Federal Research Funding

The embattled Alzheimer's researcher, Hoau-Yan Wang, has been indicted on federal fraud charges for allegedly falsifying data to fraudulently obtain $16 million in federal research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The 67-year-old professor at the City University of New York (CUNY) provided scientific underpinnings for Cassava Sciences' Alzheimer's treatment, Simufilam, and is charged with one count of major fraud against the United States, two counts of wire fraud, and one count of false statements.

The federal grand jury indictment alleges that Wang manipulated data and images of Western blots to artificially add bands, subtract bands, and change their relative thickness and darkness, and then drew conclusions based on these false results. Outside researchers have expressed doubts and concerns about Wang's research, and in 2023, Science magazine obtained a 50-page report from an internal investigation at CUNY that looked into 31 misconduct allegations made against Wang in 2021. The report concluded that Wang's work "remains highly questionable" and that Cassava Sciences' lead scientist, Lindsay Burns, who was a frequent co-author with Wang, is also likely responsible for the misconduct.

In March 2022, five of Wang's articles published in the journal PLOS One were retracted over integrity concerns with images in the papers. The FDA also conducted an inspection of Wang's analytical work and techniques used to analyze blood and cerebrospinal fluid from patients in a Simufilam trial, finding several problems outlined in a "damning" report obtained by Science. If convicted, Wang faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for the major fraud charge, 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud, and five years in prison for the count of false statements.

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