Seoul National University (SNU) officially announced on December 12 that SNU will form a committee of inquiry to verify professor Hwangs article in the magazine Science.
Roh Jeong-hye, head of a SNU research team, held a press conference at SNU on the morning of December 12 and said that they decided to establish an inquiry committee to get at the truth of the controversy upon the request of Hwangs team.
SNU plans to form an inquiry committee of fewer than 10 experts from SNU and commence an investigation into whether Hwangs thesis is true as soon as possible. SNU will include external experts if necessary.
Roh said that they can carry out a joint examination with the University of Pittsburgh on request. When she was informed about the possibility of the technology leakage in that case, she said that the committee will judge everything.
Regarding the scope of an investigation, Roh said, In principle, the committee will decide that. However, an examination into the overlapping of pictures on the thesis printed in Science and DNA fingerprint data will be made first. It will not take long to find out if additional data from the thesis was wrong or not.
She added, Whether stem cells themselves exist will be determined in the process of the examination, and it will be done step-by-step. The committees activities and details will be kept confidential, and its progress will be announced in the middle stage.
Professor Hwang was released from a SNU hospital at 6:15 a.m. on that day and went back to work. It has been 18 days since he held a press conference and left his lab on November 24.
Hwang said, I am sorry to have caused the people anxiety. I will work harder on stem cell research and faithfully cooperate with the examination by SNU itself.
Hwang visited a hog farm in Hongseong, South Chungcheong Province yesterday afternoon and made an experiment of transplanting somatic cell cloned eggs to two germ-free pigs.
In the meantime, Cheong Wa Dae reached a consensus in a daily meeting presided over by Chief Presidential Secretary Lee Byung-wan yesterday that it will not respond to the controversy surrounding the outcome of Hwangs stem cell research.