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Associate Says Hwang Faked Research

Posted December. 17, 2005 10:36,   


The authenticity allegations surrounding Seoul National University professor Hwang Woo-suk’s paper on patient-tailored embryonic stem cells that was published in Science magazine this May were taken to a new level after Roh Sung-il, the administrator of Seoul’s MizMedi Hospital and co-author of the paper, claimed that Hwang fabricated his stem cell research.

Hwang requested that the prosecution investigate the case, and Roh criticized Hwang for not telling the truth, creating a rare battle.

In a press conference at Seoul National University on December 16, Hwang assumed that the embryonic stem cells were replaced by the stem cells from the MizMedi Hospital when the research team produced the stem cells. He said that he would like law enforcement to investigate the case.

“After an MBC-TV program on Hwang’s research team, the team inspected some of the stem cells and found out them to be identical to those of the MizMedi Hospital,” said Hwang. “There is a chance that somebody replaced the stem cells,” further claimed the scientist.

“It does not matter whether the number of stem cells is one or three. It does not matter if we publish the article one year later, either. Yet, who did what and why must be cleared,” said Hwang.

On the very existence of the patient-specific stem cells, Hwang made it clear that the team maintained the core technology of producing the stem cells. “When we published the paper, six members of the research team confirmed the 11 cloned stem cells until the last minute,” said Hwang.

Hwang apologized for casting doubt on the feat by making mistakes and leaving loopholes regarding teratoma pictures. He said that he requested the withdrawal of the paper after his coauthors agreed on the matter because the paper was in doubt.

Roh also had a press conference and said, “There are no embryonic stem cells of Hwang. The clinic will thaw No. 2 and No. 3 stem cells that it is storing within two to three weeks to verify the authenticity.”

“Being thrown into a difficult situation, Hwang has scapegoated his research fellow Kim Sun-jong, seconded to the University of Pittsburgh, as if he did something wrong,” said Roh. “I feel awful to see Hwang blaming the other.”

Regarding the request of investigation, the prosecution said that it would scrutinize what the two have said in the press conference and what other scientists think about the issue.

“A press conference does not constitute a complaint on which the prosecution should start an investigation, and it is not desirable for the prosecution to take the lead in investigating this case,” said the prosecution, taking a cautious approach.

In a press conference, professor Roh Jung-hye of Seoul National University said, “Regardless of Hwang’s announcement, the university will get its committee to verify the paper published in Science.” She also stated, “It will send a documentary examination around December 19.”