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SNU Professors at Odds Over Hwang Woo-suk’s Thesis

Posted December. 10, 2005 07:51,   


The controversy over re-examining Seoul National University (SNU) Professor Hwang Woo-suk and his colleagues’ thesis published in the magazine Science is setting off a dispute among SNU professors.

On December 8, young professors of SNU’s College of Natural Science (CNS) involved in cell specialization research submitted a proposal to SNU President Chung Un-chan calling for a re-examination of the thesis. Other SNU professors in the College of Agriculture and Life Science (CALS) and the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) sent an e-mail to SNU President Chung to clarify their opposition to the proposal.

In their e-mail, the professors said they oppose: (a) re-discussion of the ethics issues for which Hwang already apologized; (b) personal attacks on Hwang rather than on the thesis itself; and (c) the improvising of the Office of Scientific Integrity (OSI).

Regarding the fact that cell specialization researchers from the CNS are taking the initiative in calling for a re-examination, they said they were “embarrassed as scientists because the dispute might be seen as a hegemonic fight against the CALS and the CVM.”

Meanwhile, Hwang’s team expressed its commitment to actively deal with the request for thesis re-examination, saying it was willing to disclose specific data on its research results.

In response to the accusation that the results of the analysis of DNA fingerprints of somatic and stem cells might have been manipulated, Professor Kang Sung-geun of SNU’s College of Veterinary Medicine said, “We are willing to disclose our experiment data if a group of experts officially asks for the results of our patient-specific stem cell research that was published in Science in 2005.”

Se-Jin Jung mint4a@donga.com wolfkim@donga.com