Monday, December 26, 2005

NYTimes finally mentions on Dec. 25 role of MBC in Hwang-gate

From Nicholas Wade, Clone Scientist Relied on Peers and Korean Pride, NYT, Dec. 25:

Dr. Philip Campbell, the editor of Nature: "We are investigating the Snuppy paper [by Hwang] and will review whether we and referees acted appropriately, and whether standards should change."

Science is now reviewing the accuracy of articles of 2004 and 2005 in which Dr. Hwang said he had cloned human cells.

A question both journals have considered is that of whether their editors and reviewers should have caught the errors in Dr. Hwang's papers before publication. But as in past cases of fraud, the journals' editors and other scientists assert that their system depends basically on trust and that reviewers can check only whether a report's conclusions follow from the data presented. [Yes, but there were inconsistencies/missing information that were apparent on the surface.]

Nature's reviewers did not ask Dr. Hwang to provide evidence that would have proved Snuppy was cloned from another dog. [Note: that is, for the profiles of the mitochondrial DNA] Dr. Campbell said that Nature, as part of its investigation of the article, would consider whether its standards of proof should be changed in the future.

If other scientists had succeeded in cloning human cells before any challenge had emerged to Dr. Hwang's work, it is not so clear that he would have been exposed. [This type of thinking can even be used to resurrect old frauds, such as Jan-Hendrik Schon. Thus, if someone does it later, somebody is going to say "Schon was right" or "I was inspired by Schon."]

***Finally, the NY Times mentions MBC (PD Notebook):

It was a whistle-blower in Dr. Hwang's lab who informed the South Korean television network MBC of problems in his work, and that led South Korean journalists to begin to investigate.

But for the whistle-blower, Dr. Hwang might well be continuing his meteoric career on the wings of his reports in Science and Nature.

[Wade might have mentioned the demise of PD Notebook on MBC.]

Merely fyi, see
Stem Cell Project Scandal Is Disturbing but Hardly an Uncommon Occurrence

Separately, from AP

- A University of Pittsburgh researcher wanted the school to provide $200,000 to help fund stem cell research with a South Korean scientist whose work is now being questioned, but the proposal never got off the ground, the university said Wednesday.
Pitt's Dr. Gerald Schatten wanted the money to collaborate with now-embattled researcher Hwang Woo-suk, but it "never was funded. It never went anywhere," university spokeswoman Jane Duffield said Wednesday.


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