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Stem Cell Fraud Search Continues

Posted January. 17, 2006 03:59,   


It was discovered on January 16 that Kim Sun-jong, a former junior researcher at MizMedi Hospital, did not mention the “successful creation of stem cell lines (cloned cells of donors’ body cells)” in the e-mails he has written since 2004. Kim is known to be deeply involved in the scandal of fabricating the data used in Dr. Hwang Woo-suk’s paper published in Science in 2005.

The special investigation team at the Seoul District Public Prosecutors’ Office seized about 50,000 e-mails of 33 persons involved in the stem cell fraud. It is reported that the investigators finished examining the e-mails of Kim Sun-jong, who was in charge of growing stem cells, last weekend. More probes into the e-mails will follow.

The results from the special investigators show that Kim had not written in any of his e-mails that stem cell lines were created.

The prosecutors think that if Kim had been successful in growing stem cells, he would have told others about the outcome.

Meanwhile the prosecution called in the seven junior researchers, who participated in Dr. Hwang’s research, for further investigation. Five of the seven work for MizMedi Hospital, Dr. Hwang’s partner research hospital based in Seoul, and the rest are researchers at Seoul National University (SNU).

“This week, the investigation will focus on obtaining more information from the researchers on the objective description of the role each research participant played and on the research itself,” said an official in the prosecution.

In addition, the prosecutors launched a probe into the bank accounts of Dr. Hwang and Roh Sung-il, head of MizMedi Hospital. On January 15, the prosecutors got hold of six computer hard disk drives, six CD-ROMs, and five boxes of documents found in the offices of Moon Shin-yong, professor of medicine at SNU, and Roh Sung-il. They are looking through the seized materials and documents.

woogija@donga.com leon@donga.com