Levon Khachigian cuts an imposing figure in the hallways of the UNSW School of Medical Sciences.
This disheartening case isn’t the first time it has been suggested an independent national body should investigate allegations of research misconduct, that Australia’s approach has an inherent conflict of interest problem and something needs to change.
In the elite world of academia, where prestige is driven by publication in top scientific journals and research funding is scarce, Professor Khachigian has been a big earner, bringing more than $23 million in funding to the university over his three-decade career.
The cancer and cardiovascular researcher was once regarded as a rising star on the brink of a breakthrough treatment for skin cancer.
Professor Khachigian is the winner of multiple Eureka prizes, widely regarded as the “Oscars” of Australian science, and once told a newspaper that the toughest part of the job was “when a research paper is rejected for publication on whimsical grounds”.