December 15, 2005

S.Korea cell scientist faked results-collaborator

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's most renowned stem cell
scientist fabricated key parts of a ground-breaking paper and
is seeking to have the work withdrawn, a close collaborator
told South Korean media on Thursday.

The daily newspaper Hankyoreh and three South Korean
television networks quoted Roh Sung-il as saying that he, stem
cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk and another co-author of the
landmark 2005 Science paper on tailor-made stem cells had
notified the journal that they were withdrawing the paper.

"Professor Hwang admitted to fabrication," Roh said in an
appearance on MBC television. Roh, a specialist in fertility
studies, was referring to a meeting he had with Hwang earlier
in the day.

Repeated attempts to reach Hwang and his other team members
were not immediately successful.

Another television network, KBS, quoted Roh as saying: "I
agreed with Hwang to ask for it (the paper) to be withdrawn."

Roh told South Korean media that nine of the 11 stem cell
lines that were part of the tailored stem study paper were
fabricated and the authenticity of the other two lines was

Science, a leading academic journal, could not be reached
for comment.

Hwang's research team has dismissed previous reports
questioning his research and said its work was vetted by a
rigorous system of peer review prior to publication.

On Tuesday, a U.S. stem cell expert who lent his name and
credibility to South Korean cloning pioneers asked that his
name be removed from their landmark scientific paper.

Dr. Gerald Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh asked
Science to take his name off a human cloning study published by
Hwang and colleagues at Seoul National University.

Hwang is best known in scientific circles for cloning the
first human embryos for research and the landmark study
published earlier this year about developing tailored stem
cells that could lead one day to cures for ailments such as
severe spinal cord injuries. Hwang's team also created the
world's first cloned dog.

Hwang has been at the center of a media storm since
November 24 when he apologized for two junior women researchers
donating their eggs for his work and for not releasing
information about the incident promptly.

The international scientific community frowns on donations
by researchers because of possible coercion.

Hwang is considered a hero in South Korea for bringing the
country to the forefront of stem cell and cloning studies.