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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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July 15, 2013

An Update on the Wisconsin Lab Theft Case

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Posted by Derek

Back in April I mentioned this story, about a researcher at the Medical College of Wisconsin who'd been charged with economic espionage. The accusation was that Hua-jun Zhao had stolen an investigational oncology compound from the lab of Prof. Marshall Anderson, apparently to set up a research program with it back in China.

Now comes word that Zhao has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, breaking into a university computer. But this is still not a good outcome for him:

Zhao, 41, initially pleaded not guilty to tampering with a private computer and lying to a federal agent. An additional charge of economic espionage was dropped but prosecutors maintained the right to renew it with a future indictment.

Instead, as part of a plea deal, Zhao pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of accessing a computer without authorization, thereby obtaining information worth at least $5,000. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine and will be sentenced next month.

If this is what things got bargained down to, the situation must have been grim. The medical school says that it has no objection to the plea. The missing vials of compound have not been recovered, but it doesn't look like Zhao (update: fixed the name!) is going to be working on the stuff any time soon.

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: The Dark Side


1. AlphaGamma on July 15, 2013 7:41 AM writes...

Who's Zhang?

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2. anon-1 on July 15, 2013 4:37 PM writes...

if he is in China, how is he going to serve a sentence and good luck with the fine.

I hope Zhao continues to work on the program and hopefully launch a drug into the Chinese market. that would teach Anderson not to act like saddam- dictator in his lab as some (rare and as in this case)advisors are known to.

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3. John on July 16, 2013 8:29 AM writes...


Read the link. There is no-way that Zhao can work on those compounds in the near future.

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4. Huajun Zhao on November 19, 2013 12:41 AM writes...

1. No reliance can be placed on MCW’s evidence.
(1) On February 22, 2013, I was summoned to a meeting with the 76-year-old full professor MA and MCW officials because of my lengthy absence. They set a schedule for me to finish my first authored manuscript about C25 before March 15, 2013. Sometime that same day, MA misplaced three pill bottle sized container s of C25. On February 25, 2013, MCW officials sent an email to MCW employees reporting that MA had misplaced the bottles of C-25, indicating that MA believed he had left the pill bottles in a conference room. But later MA told MCW security that he put the compound in his office. Such a typical circumvention!
(2) MA thought that C-25 would be damaged because I stored it at below zero for long-term storage. Such a funny joke!
(3) I posted a question for troubleshooting on researchgate, "We (I) found a novel compound......", MA thought I offended his trade secret about C-25. So funny!
(4) I didn’t apply for any Chinese fund about C-25.
(5) There was no evidence that MCW had a patent of C-25. And also, MA didn’t apply for any grant of C-25.Just a big liar!
2. Substantially, MCW and MA attempted to deprive me of my credit and contribution.
(1) February 27, 2013, MCW officials took my personal laptop and external drive and other personal property from me without my willingness and I was suspended. On the evening of that same day, I thought that MCW officials’ action was illegal and was afraid of losing my own data including MA lab’s and my former lab’s. Also, Somebody told me that my laptop was still on my desk. So, I returned the lab. But I found that my personal property was gone, later, I found a flash drive to make a copy from my lab computer to protect my own data. This is so-called “ accessing information without authorization from a protected computer”. Have to do like this for being released.
(2) All research data was produced by myself. What I deleted was a old copy of my experimental data from my lab computer. So called "MCOW computer" and "protected computer" were my lab computer.
3. On April 1,2013, I appeared again before Magistrate Judge Gorence and was ordered detained based on the risk of flight. No bail!
4. And also, in the first two weeks, jail officials deprived me of my correspondence right.
5. “There is no evidence that the defendant was attempting to commit fraud or to profit from his conduct in this case. Nor is there any evidence demonstrating that the defendant intended to cause any loss to the victim or to anyone else. It appears that the defendant was trying to protect data which he helped compile relating to cancer research. “ from Judge Charles N. Clevert.

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