Seoul National Universitys fact-finding committee has closed professor Hwang Woo-suks lab, and, accordingly, his teams stem cell research has been ceased.
The fact-finding committee said on December 19 that as the committee began its investigation on December 18, Hwangs lab was closed in effect, and that all members of Hwangs team have become subjects of inquiries and are forbidden to approach research data without the approval of the committee.
The committee is monitoring a stem cell cultivation room 24/7 through closed circuit TV and has confiscated the computers of professor Hwang and his main researchers. Also, cells of patients who provided stem cells and nuclei were sealed in a low-temperature container.
The researchers can have access to the lab after submitting a request to enter that clarifies the purpose and time and getting an approval.
The committee received a written oath on security from all members of the committee and those who are to be queried. The oath says that if any of these people disclose investigation contents externally, they will be held responsible civilly and criminally.
Before that, the committee talked personally to 24 researchers of the lab as well as professor Hwang Woo-suk, Lee Byung-chun, and Kang Sung-keun from 10:00 a.m. to 11:50 p.m. on December 18 and investigated what role each of them played.
The committee plans to verify No. 2, 3 stem cells which have been kept at MizMedi Hospital sooner or later.
Meanwhile, Park Ki-young, the information and science technical advisor of the presidential secretariat, said on December 19 regarding professor Hwang stem-cell controversy that professor Hwang should take complete responsibility for the paper.
Park made it clear to a journalist of the Herald Business on that day that the essence of a scientific paper is honesty, but the current situation is turning out to be not an artificial mistake but a fabrication and that, therefore, professor Hwang should be held responsible for the paper.
He continued, When I reported the positions of professor Hwang and MBCs PD notebook to President Roh right after Roh Sung-il, the director of MizMedi Hospital, held a press conference on the researchers egg donation on November 21, nobody said anything about stem cells being changed. I heard that early this month the cloned stem cells were switched to fertilized egg stem cells, which has yet to be confirmed.
Park added, Professor Hwang showed me what he said were stem cells at Seoul National University last year and this year. However, I couldnt tell whether they were fertilized egg stem cells or cloned stem cells. At least, at that time, I trusted professor Hwang and didnt doubt what he said.
Kim Man-soo, spokesman for Cheong Wa Dae said, We confirmed the story to Park and he claimed what he said was true.