Monday, January 09, 2006

The authorship issue for Hwang's 2005 Science paper

from the Economist, Dec. 20, 2005:

Sauve qui peut

After learning of these concerns, the paper's second author, Gerald Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh, asked for his name to be removed from it. A couple of days later, on December 15th, another co-author, Roh Sung-il, claimed Dr Hwang had admitted falsifying data on nine of the 11 stem-cell lines that formed the basis of his findings. Despite being on the list of authors, Dr Roh, who is the head of the MizMedi Women's Hospital, an infertility clinic in Seoul, and who had collaborated with Dr Hwang in the past, said he was not aware of the paper until after it had been published. He added that, because of concerns that someone might steal their scoop, it had been written by Dr Hwang and Dr Schatten only.

In a televised press conference on December 16th, Dr Hwang responded by denying the accusations vehemently. However, he did acknowledge fatal flaws in the paper and asked for it to be withdrawn, something Science will do if all 25 co-authors agree. He also offered his own interpretation of the too-perfect results: that the stem cells were somehow mismanaged, or possibly switched. He conceded that there were only eight cell lines when he offered the paper for review, but said his team created three more lines later.

The presence of the duplicated photos is more difficult to explain. Initially, Dr Hwang presented this as an administrative mistake. However, a junior researcher on the project, Kim Sun-jong, has said his boss ordered him to manipulate photos of two stem-cell lines and present them as 11 separate colonies.

from Wired News, citing AP report 18 Dec.

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

"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.


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