Researcher denies he borrowed technology for artificial cochlea

CHINA - A Chinese Academy of Sciences academician denied a former student's accusations that he plagiarized and copied technology.

CAS member Wang Zhengmin allegedly bought an Australian-made artificial cochlea, which is a surgical treatment for hearing loss, and copied the technology as he developed China's homemade product in 2003, according to a report by China Central Television on Thursday.

The Chinese product later was awarded independent intellectual property rights and helped Wang and a Shanghai manufacturer make 40 million yuan (S$8.37 million) in 2012 alone, report said.

Wang responded that he had been interested in developing China's artificial cochlea as early as the 1980s, when the country's technology lagged behind the rest of the world.

"In 1996, an Australian company gave two artificial cochlea to us, and we implanted them into a brother and a sister who were from Wuhan, Hubei province," Wang Zhengmin said at Friday's press conference.

"Since then, we had further cooperation with the Australian partner, such as a training class and knowledge publicity.

"During that time, we got one cochlea for teaching purposes. It's impossible to buy a cochlea because Australia has strict control over its products," he explained.

"So we carried out research on this Australian-made artificial cochlea, which was used for teaching. But when we opened it, the data in it was lost immediately. So there was no possibility for us to copy the technology," he said.

Wang said the research team spent many years developing China's homemade artificial cochlea.

The tipster, Wang Yucheng, a onetime student of Wang Zhengmin's, told Fudan University in 2012 that his mentor plagiarized 57 papers for his CAS application in 2005.

The Academic Committee of Fudan University carried out an independent academic investigation and decided that while the paper written by Wang Zhengmin didn't conform to international standards, it was not academic plagiarism, according to a report released in August.

Wang Yucheng was unhappy with the result and has applied for reconsideration.

The Academic Committee of Fudan University is redeciding the case, and the result will be released soon, according to Zhou Luwei, director of Fudan University Academic Discipline Committee.

Fang Ming, spokesman of Fudan University, said Wang Yucheng in 2009 made a series of unreasonable demands of his mentor, including asking him to cultivate him as a key talent, send him to top international academic conferences and appoint him as his honorary life secretary.

Wang Zhengmin refused these requests, which led to the resentment and complaints from Wang Yucheng, according to Fang.