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Scientist Takes Egg Controversy Blame

Posted November. 25, 2005 08:29,   


Hwang Woo-suk (photo), chair professor of Seoul National University, issued a statement on Thursday, publicly apologizing for the controversy surrounding egg donations for his stem cell research.

He announced, “I will resign from all the positions including head of the World Stem Cell Hub, to atone to the public. From now on, I will pursue research only as a commoner.”

In a press conference held at an auditorium of the veterinary college of Seoul National University, the renowned scientist admitted that two female researchers in his lab donated their eggs, and that he kept silent on this issue even after learning the truth last May.

As for the eggs that Noh Sung-il, the director of MizMedi hospital, paid to each donor 1.5 million won for, he stated “I would like to apologize for using such eggs against my will.”

He said, “When we had an insufficient supply of eggs, a researcher in the lab offered her eggs, which I declined. She made similar offers twice afterwards, but every time, I refused to accept her offers. One and a half months later, another researcher made a similar offer, which I declined again.”

It was from the report of science journal “Nature” in May that he learned that the researchers actually donated their eggs, but he hasn’t revealed so far that the eggs were paid, because one of his researchers wanted her privacy to be protected.

Hwang added, “I had suspicions initially that some, if any, of eggs might be supplied in an inappropriate way, but after Noh, the director of MizMedi hospital, confirmed that there was no problem with the eggs supplied, I no longer paid attention to the source of the eggs.”

He said, “I am willing to take full responsibility for all the disputes and controversy. But I plead with you to continue to support stem cell research so that it can make continued progress.”

On Thursday, the Independent Review Board (IRB) of the Veterinary College of Seoul National University indicated in its survey report released by the Ministry of Health and Welfare that “no laws and ethical regulations have been violated in the process of egg donation. The ongoing controversy is caused by the cultural differences between the West and the East over the dignity and value of human beings.”

Hee-Kyung Kim susanna@donga.com wolfkim@donga.com