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'Ear mouse' scientist accused of deceptive research

Cao Yilin, the Chinese scientist who grew a human-like "ear" on a mouse in 1994, is being accused by his previous colleagues of deceptive research to obtain funding of 300 million yuan (US$47 million).

Cao won fame in a national-level scientific achievement show in 2001 by his stunning display – "a mouse with a human ear on its back." However, Shang Qingxin, Cao's postgraduate classmate and previous colleague, now says that Cao implanted polymer material scaffolding instead of cartilage on the mouse.

Shang and others charged that the fake "ear mouse" helped Cao win huge amounts of funding for his research, which turned out to be fruitless and a waste of the country's resources.

In response, Cao last week again produced a mouse with a "human ear" on its back to refute the accusations. "The mouse has gone through state investigation and results will be published soon," Cao said.

Cao's supporters said the accusation is utterly false and meant to frame him at a critical time. Cao was named a supplementary candidate for the Chinese Academy of Sciences in May but his name disappeared from the latest candidate list issued in August after the scandal.

Cao, a professor at Jiao Tong University in Shanghai and a plastic surgery doctor at Shanghai No. 9 People's Hospital, studied at Harvard Medical School in a postdoctoral program and returned to the country in 1997 to help pioneer tissue engineering in China.


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