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American Scientist’s Inconsistency Raises Questions

Posted December. 15, 2005 08:59,   


Gerald P. Schatten, a University of Pittsburgh professor who participated in Hwang Woo-suk’s stem cell research, reportedly urged the team of Hwang, the pioneering stem cell scientist from Seoul National University, to retract its paper on stem cells which was published in Science, a world-renowned science journal, in May.

The American researcher reportedly cited that his careful review of the paper has led to substantial doubts about some basic elements of the research.

Hwang, however, decided not to react to his former American counterpart’s request since Schatten’s public comments haven’t been consistent recently.

Science said it is unacceptable.

Professor Schatten wrote in his e-mail sent to Science on Monday (local time), “I contacted Hwang’s team to urge it to retract the paper.” He added, “I informed the investigation committee of the University of Pittsburgh of the current status so that the committee can report their findings afterwards.”

He also requested Science to remove his name as one of the co-authors of the paper.

Schatten argued, “My careful re-evaluations of the figures and tables now cast substantial doubts about the paper`s accuracy. I received allegations from someone involved with the experiments this year that certain elements of the report may be fabricated.”

Science responded in a public statement, “His request is based on some groundless arguments, so we can’t accept his request.”

Professor Schatten’s Inconsistency-

Hwang and his researchers didn’t budge an inch despite the American scientist’s request to retract the paper.

One source from Hwang’s team said on Wednesday, “Professor Schatten said in his telephone conversation on Saturday with Ahn Gyu-ri, a professor in the medical school of Seoul National University, that he is 300 percent confident of the veracity of the paper. His inconsistency makes us unsure of what he is going to say next.”

The American scientist has been supporting Hwang until very recently, saying, “Hwang’s paper this year is scientifically faultless,” even after he announced on November 12 that he would pull out of the collaboration with Hwang, citing the suspicions surrounding the eggs donation.

A source from Hwang’s team cautiously speculated, “He seems to distance himself from our team as he faces criticism in the U.S. We can’t understand why he requested Science to retract his co-authorship without prior consultation with our team.”

The New York Times, a prestigious American newspaper, reported on December 10, “It doesn’t make sense that Schatten became one of the co-authors for his role in analyzing data and helping write the paper.”

Hwang’s team stated, “We are very cautious of how we respond to the recent developments because three of our researchers are currently working with Schatten’s team. If we end up severing ties with the American team, we plan to bring back all of our researchers.”

Investigation Led by Seoul National University to Gain Speed-

Seoul National University announced, “Eight members including the chair have been appointed to a committee comprised of 10 members to scrutinize the controversial research. The inquiry committee includes two outside experts.”

The university plans to release its future plan of actions and inquiry criteria on December 16 after finalizing the appointment of all members by the end of the weekend.

The university said, “We remain adhered to the principle that the identity of members will not be disclosed. Only the name of the chair can be released after proper consultation.”

As for the proposal for the joint investigation made through Science by eight scientists including Ian Wilmut, a British professor, Seoul Nation University added, “We haven’t received any official proposal yet. Once we receive an official offer, we will discuss with the members to decide whether to accept it.”

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