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Prosecutors Say Hwang Was Unaware

Posted February. 06, 2006 03:45,   


Seoul National University professor Hwang Woo-suk was unaware of the fact that his team’s patient-specific stem cell lines did not exist until an internal investigation last November, a prosecution report claimed Sunday.

The special investigation team of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office reached that provisional conclusion after analyzing Hwang’s e-mails, research notes, and interviews with researchers.

Prosecutors concluded that although Hwang did manipulate his study results by exaggerating research data, he did not seem to have been aware that patient-specific stem cells had never been created when he claimed his team succeeded in making them.

According to the prosecution, Hwang’s team offered stem cells lines No.2 and 3 to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) last year and transferred $150,000 out of the three billion won in research aid Hwang’s team received for being the country’s “top scientist” for international co-research.

The MSKCC conducted research on differentiating the stem cells received from Hwang to neural cells with the money.

Prosecutors consider this evidence that Hwang believed that stem cells lines had actually been created at the time. It would not be logical to believe that Hwang sent stem cells to an American research center knowing they were faked.

Hwang`s research team also experimented with injecting No.1 and No.2 stem cells into 50 spinal cord-crippled mice from March to August of last year at Seoul National University Medical School.

The prosecution believes that Hwang thought the stem cells were patient-specific stem cells because his research was aimed at commercializing stem cells.

Prosecutors said they are also in possession of other evidence that shows Hwang believed the stem cell lines were real.

Investigators are expected to summon Kim Seon-jong, a co-author of Hwang’s 2005 paper who is suspected of manipulating stem cell studies as early as this week.

On Saturday and Sunday, prosecutors summoned Park Jong-hyuk, a co-author of Hwang’s 2004 paper, to ask him about his role in fabricating the experiments. Park returned on Sunday at the request of the prosecution.

Tae-Hoon Lee jefflee@donga.com