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Hwang’s Assistant Forged Stem Cell Data

Posted January. 27, 2006 03:06,   


Prosecutors confirmed yesterday that Kim Sun-jong (34), a member of Dr. Hwang Woo-suk’s research team, may have falsified data to make it seem as if the team succeeded in replicating patient-specific somatic stem cells.

The special investigation department of the Seoul Central District prosecutor’s office led by Hong Man-pyo, the head of Special Investigation Department III, determined this based on the Seoul National University investigation panel’s final report, e-mail, research notes from relevant personnel, and researchers’ statements.

According to the prosecution, Kim sent e-mails to acquaintances in Korea last year while he was residing in the U.S., and explicitly mentioned concern over MBC’s investigative report on the news program PD Note, saying, “I feel bewildered,” and, “This is serious. I’m worried.”

The prosecution has determined that the failure to clone patient-specific somatic stem cells led Kim to submit falsified information to Hwang and Roh Sung-il, the board director of MizMedi Hospital, in the earlier stages of the research in late 2004 by transferring the MizMedi stem cells to SNU and stating that the patient-specific somatic stem cells had been successfully cloned.

But prosecutors have established that Hwang must have known at some point before submitting his paper that there were no cloned patient-specific somatic stem cells in existence.

Prosecutors have restored Kim’s damaged laptop computer that was confiscated from his house and are currently analyzing files on it that contain information on the stem cell cloning procedure. Park Eul-soon, who co-wrote Hwang’s 2004 Science magazine paper, is expected to be summoned for questioning soon after her return Korea on January 25.

Tae-Hoon Lee Jin-Kyun Kil jefflee@donga.com leon@donga.com