Saturday, February 25, 2006

Did Schatten use fake Hwang data to help get NIH grant?

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review writes on February 26, 2006: The shiner the University of Pittsburgh received from its association with fraudulent stem-cell research in South Korea is balanced by another black eye. Reproductive biologist Gerald Schatten, who was lead author on an article describing the now-discredited "breakthrough," used the research to help win a $16.1 million federal grant last year for more stem-cell work at Pitt. And there is every indication the National Institutes of Health and the university will not stand in his way. Giving the benefit of the doubt owed, there is no evidence available to us that Mr. Schatten knew the data were false when he applied for the grant.

The Korea Times said :

Two other researchers are working with Schatten on the project: Peter Donovan at the University of California, Irvine, and Roger Pedersen at Cambridge in England.

As the five-year grant is based on the false cloning experiments, which Schatten co-authored, the university officials should consider whether he remains eligible to lead research projects and receive grants, Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, was quoted as saying.

When applying for the grant, Schatten's team is also said to have referred to Hwang's research in creating stem cells and the "exceptional international collaborations" between the labs of the two countries.

Park Jong-hyuk, former researcher at Mizmedi Hospital in Seoul, was also named as a key person on the grant. Park is currently under a prosecutors' investigation in Korea. Park Eul-soon, another researcher who is with the school, is also listed as a predoctoral trainee.

Hwang also voiced his support for Schatten's work, referring to their "intensively involved" collaboration, the newspaper reported, quoting a letter forwarded to the NIH.

It is unclear whether the NIH will withdraw the grant due to Schatten's involvement in the falsified research.

"NIH is in contact with the University of Pittsburgh as part of the oversight that occurs in connection with any and all grants awarded by the NIH," spokesman Don Ralbovsky was quoted as saying.

The South Korean prosecution has tried to question Schatten over his role in fabricating the research. The U.S. scientist recently told the prosecution he will cooperate in their probe through e-mail, and prosecutors who mailed their questions last week are waiting for responses from him.

An investigation by the University of Pittsburgh said earlier that Schatten "did not deliberately fabricate data himself," though he committed "a serious failure that facilitated the publication" of the paper by Hwang.


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