A U.S. District Court judge yesterday denied a request for a temporary injunction sought by Young Hee Ko, a Korean-born scientist whose contract was not renewed as an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
In denying the request because she couldn't prove irreparable harm or damage, the court said, "The courts are reluctant, and properly so, to substitute their judgment for the judgment of professional academics."
Ko, who has alleged that her academic career and search for a cancer cure have been unfairly cut short, filed suit last year accusing Hopkins and four of its employees of racial and gender discrimination. She had sought the injunction to stay in her research position beyond June 30.
"I think this is a favorable first step in what will ultimately be a vindication of our position," Hopkins spokesman Gary M. Stephenson said yesterday. He has said Ko's contract was not renewed because she did not collaborate with colleagues.
Ko has alleged that Hopkins denied her the lab space needed to qualify for grants and the opportunity to seek government approval to start human clinical trials.
Her research to eradicate advanced cancerous tumors in lab rats, which was described in a Jan. 8 article in The Sun , attracted attention from cancer patients hoping to be part of possible human clinical trials.
"I'm concerned because the question really is, will the research continue without her?" said Joanne Merrill, whose husband has prostate cancer and wants to be part of a trial.
She and several other supporters demonstrated last Saturday in front of Johns Hopkins Hospital on Ko's behalf.
It is unknown whether her research will continue once Ko leaves Hopkins next week.
"At this point I hope that the decision-makers at the Johns Hopkins University and institution, for which we have tremendous respect, will reconsider their position and do everything they can to take advantage of Dr. Ko's unique expertise working with her revolutionary anti-cancer agent," said Ko's attorney, Charles Piven.