Ireland's first government science advisor, who has been in the post for little more than a year, was forced to leave the job last week in the face of repeated questions about whether he obtained his PhD from a "diploma mill."

Barry McSweeney, a biochemist, was appointed to the job of Chief Science Advisor in June 2004, fresh from running the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), where he managed 2500 staff across 7 institutes. He was also responsible for the EU's Marie Curie mobility program. Previously he had been director of BioResearch Ireland, and had broad industrial experience. He had a bachelor's degree from University College Cork, and a Masters degree from Trinity College Dublin.

But in early October it emerged that a PhD he acquired in 1992 was awarded by Pacific Western University (PWU) in Los Angeles, an institution that featured in a recent GAO investigation...

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