January 13, 2006
Stem cell research faked

Seoul, South Korea (AHN) – It’s the next, perhaps final, devastating blow to the work of South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk. A panel investigating his work finds he faked claims of cloning human embryonic stem cells, in what is being labeled the biggest cover-up in modern scientific history.{{more}}

Hwang turned in his resignation last December after being accused by colleagues of fabricating data in his cloning research. However, investigators at the Seoul National University said Tuesday his claims of having created the world’s first cloned dog in 2005, were legitimate.

In a 2004 paper published in the journal Science, Hwang’s team claimed to have cloned the first human embryos for research, and in yet another ‘05 article they claimed to have produced the world’s first embryonic tailored stem cells.

The university panel concludes Hwang could not turn in solid proof he ever created the cloned embryonic stem cells, and finds the data in the papers to be deliberately fabricated.

Chung Myung-hee, the head of the panel, tells reporters, “Hwang’s team did not have the data for the stem cell lines in the 2004 paper, but fabricated it.”

Hwang had reached folk hero status in South Korea after making his claims, but has been under fire since November, when he admitted to using eggs donated from junior scientists, a practice that raises eyebrows in the science community due to the ease of tampering.

He soon became a national disgrace in December after a colleague claimed his research to be false, and called him a fake.

Prosecutors have said they may conduct a criminal probe into Hwang on suspicion he misused state funds based on the findings in the panel’s report.