Fri, Apr 07, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Foundation to take over task of picking Tang Prize winners

Staff writer, with CNA

Academia Sinica on Wednesday said it is handing over the task of selecting Tang Prize winners to the Tang Prize Foundation.

Academia Sinica selected the winners in 2014 and last year.

The announcement came two months after former Academia Sinica president Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠) was indicted on charges of corruption and misconduct as a public servant in a case involving the development of a cancer drug by biotech firm OBI Pharma Inc.

Samuel Yin (尹衍樑), the businessman who established the Tang Prize, is a major shareholder in OBI Pharma.

Academia Sinica in a statement said that it was not terminating its contract with the Tang Prize Foundation, but was “suspending” cooperative ties.

As the foundation has matured, it will take over the selection of next year’s winners, after which Academia Sinica will decide whether to resume the task, the statement said.

According to the terms of its contact with the foundation, Academia Sinica has returned NT$10 million (US$327,100) in operating fees to the foundation after it suspended the cooperation.

However, James Liao (廖俊智), who took over as Academia Sinica president in June last year, has encouraged Academia Sinica researchers to participate in the foundation’s work in a private capacity, institute officials said.

The OBI Pharma scandal erupted in February last year when the firm’s share price plunged in the wake of its announcement on Feb. 21 that its new cancer drug had not met expectations in clinical trials.

It was found that Wong’s daughter was a shareholder of the company, leading to allegations against Wong of a conflict of interest.

The Tang Prize was established in 2012 to recognize outstanding research or achievements in the fields of sustainable development, rule of law, biopharmaceutical science and Sinology.

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