Saturday, December 17, 2005

The level of involvement of Schatten in the Korean cloning work

From Forbes:

-->Roh Sung-il, whose name appears as a co-author on the scientific article that made the Korean cloining research findings known, told The Associated Press he wasn't aware of the paper until it appeared in the journal Science in May, 2005.

"Usually a paper is circulated between co-authors before it gets published," Roh said. "But due to security concerns, the paper was written just between Professor Hwang and Professor Gerald Schatten," a University of Pittsburgh researcher who worked closely with Hwang before severing ties over ethics lapses in Hwang's research.

Hwang on Friday acknowledged "fatal errors" in the May article and said he has asked Science to withdraw the paper, which purported to show how his team created custom-made embryonic stem cells for 11 patients.

In a nationally televised news conference, the Seoul National University scientist admitted there were only eight stem cell lines when he submitted the paper for review, but that his team later created three more. He added that tests on his stem cell lines will prove his team "has the source technology to produce them." <--

The Forbes article indicates that Roh will be doing some testing:

Roh, who has said nine of the 11 stem cell lines were fabricated, said Dec. 17, 2005 he would conduct his own test to determine if the other two are also fake.

Samples of the two stem cell lines that Hwang's team created and stored at the Mizmedi Hospital were in the nurturing stage and tests will prove "if they are patient-specific stem cells from cloned embryos," Roh told AP.

"But to be honest, I am not sure if these samples are the same ones at Seoul National University," said Roh, chairman of the board at the hospital.

The idea that the paper in Science was written just between Hwang and Schatten is somewhat inconsistent with remarks made by Science editor Donald Kennedy, and reported (among other places) by the
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

During a news conference, Dr. Kennedy was asked why Dr. Schatten was allowed credit as a senior author on the paper when he didn't supervise or conduct any of the research himself, but served as a consultant.

Dr. Kennedy said Dr. Schatten had long been interested in the South Korean lab's work and had developed a relationship with the researchers.

"We assumed a certain level of familiarity there and I wasn't about to argue with an agreement among co-authors about order," Dr. Kennedy said. "I don't like complimentary co-authorship and would have asked, I think, if it had occurred to me."

Of the issue of retraction, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported:

Formal retraction of scientific articles is an appropriate way to let others know when a paper shouldn't be trusted, but it almost never happens, John Budd, a professor in the School of Information Science & Learning Technologies at the University of Missouri, said yesterday.

Even if it does happen, the information often continues to be cited elsewhere in scientific literature, Budd said.

Missouri's Budd surveyed the Medline database -- an authoritative index of biomedical research papers -- from 1966 to 1997 and found that of the more than 9 million articles entered during this period, only 235, or less than 0.01 percent, had been retracted. This is likely a gross underestimate of how much of the scientific literature is unreliable, Budd said.

"Roughly two-thirds of these retractions were due to either an error beyond the researcher's control such as contamination of a sample or else some kind of misconduct," Budd said.

In the 16-year history of the Office of Research Integrity, which monitors investigations into scientific misconduct for researchers who receive funding from the National Institutes of Health, there have been just 200 or so findings of fault, said Debra Parrish, a Mt. Lebanon-based attorney specializing in research ethics.

"That is not to say there's not a hell of a lot of misconduct going on," Parrish said.

The rate of retraction in scientific journals has been increasing in the past eight years, possibly because of a heightened overall awareness about the need for better ethical standards, Budd said.

"It seems that everyone is on their guard and more sensitive when something goes wrong," he said.

The Tribune-Review author Jennifer Bails somehow neglected to mention the Jan-Hendrik Schon matter, involving retraction of articles in both Science and Nature.
We had discussed details of those retractions in IPBiz.

Of Budd's remark, Even if [retraction] does happen, the information often continues to be cited elsewhere in scientific literature, one notes that this was true with Schon. Moreover, even after the retraction, certain scientists have said that they were inspired by Schon.

Further, one recalls in the "patent grant rate" discussion, we had articles in the Harvard Law Review in 2003 and in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review in 2005 cite the 97% grant rate number, even after that had been withdrawn by the original authors (and critized by others) in 2002 (and later).


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