Friday, February 10, 2006

Gerald Schatten cleared of wrongdoing in Hwang-gate by Pittsburgh panel

from AP (as presented in Wilkes Barre Times Leader), an excerpt from the University of Pittsburgh Research Integrity panel-->

"We conclude that Dr. Schatten likely did not intentionally falsify or fabricate experimental data, and that there is no evidence that he was aware of the misconduct reported to have occurred in Dr. Hwang's group in Korea. Given his dominant role in the writing of the 2005 paper his authorship is not unreasonable, but his positions as co-corresponding author and senior author were determined with considerable care and deliberation. Dr. Schatten's listing as the last author not only conferred considerable credibility to the paper within the international scientific community, but directly benefited Dr. Schatten in numerous ways including enhancement of his scientific reputation, improved opportunities for additional research funding, enhanced positioning for pending patent applications, and considerable personal financial benefit. However, these benefits are accompanied by responsibilities for the manuscript as a whole, approval of the manuscript by all co-authors, and the veracity of the data reported. Dr. Schatten shirked these responsibilities, a serious failure that facilitated the publication of falsified experiments in Science magazine. While this failure would not strictly constitute research misconduct as narrowly defined by University of Pittsburgh policies, it would be an example of research misbehavior."

Of Schatten's co-authorship on the Snuppy paper in the journal Nature:

"WE HAVE no reason to doubt Schatten's statement to us that his major contribution to the paper was a suggestion that a professional photographer be engaged, so that Snuppy would appear with greater visual appeal. It is less clear that this contribution fully justifies co-authorship."

from AP (as presented in Forbes)-->

A U.S. stem-cell expert committed "research misbehavior" in his work with a now-disgraced South Korean scientist, but his actions don't fit the University of Pittsburgh's narrow definition of scientific wrongdoing, an investigative panel said Feb. 10, 2006.

The University of Pittsburgh Research Integrity panel concluded that Dr. Gerald Schatten "likely did not intentionally falsify or fabricate experimental data" and said there was no evidence he knew of misconduct in Dr. Hwang Woo-suk's work in South Korea.

However, it found that Schatten, as co-author with Hwang on a 2005 article, "did not exercise a sufficiently critical perspective as a scientist." [IPBiz note: what about his perspective as one of only two people who actually wrote the paper, nominally showing 25 authors?]

The report is also critical of Schatten's acceptance of $40,000 from Hwang over 15 months, including $10,000 in cash while attending a press conference after the 2005 paper was published.

A South Korean academic panel recently determined that Hwang fabricated data to support his claim that he cloned human embryos and extracted stem cells from them. It also concluded Hwang falsely claimed in 2005 to have developed 11 stem cell lines tailored to specific patients.

The claim of a cloning breakthrough had offered false hope to millions suffering from paralysis and debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and AIDS.

Schatten, Hwang's sole American collaborator [on the 2005 paper in Science], ended their 20-month partnership in November after Hwang came under fire for using eggs in his studies donated by junior researchers on his team. Schatten also asked the journal Science to remove him as senior author of a 2005 paper in which Hwang claimed the first cloned human embryo. [IPBiz note: there is no mention of Schatten's knowledge by Nov. 2005 of the investigation by "PD Notebook."]

The Pittsburgh panel did not recommend any disciplinary action in Schatten's case, saying it would leave that to school officials.

Dr. Arthur Levine, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine, accepted the panel's findings. Any corrective action would be at his discretion and remain confidential. [Recall the Laurence Tribe matter.]

Schatten remains a tenured professor and active researcher at the university, officials said.

A news release sent by the university announcing the findings noted that the panel had commended Schatten for his role in promptly alerting the scientific community of his suspicions about Hwang.

The university said no panel member or university official would comment on the findings.

In South Korea, Hwang has publicly apologized, though he has claimed that he was deceived by fellow researchers and that some of the cloned embryonic stem cells were maliciously switched.

[IPBiz note: the AP story makes no mention of Schatten's US patent application, his failure to disclose his financial interests to the journal Science, or the possibility of Schatten's derivatization of certain Hwang discoveries in the patent application.]

from monstersandcritics:

A US scientist [Gerald Schatten] who was involved in work by a now-disgraced South Korean stem-cell researcher [Woo Suk Hwang] committed no apparent wrongdoing, but should have been more careful, his university [Pittsburgh] said February 10, 2006.

Though Schatten 'likely did not intentionally falsify or fabricate experimental data' and was apparently not guilty of misconduct under the university's policies, his failings 'would be an example of research misbehaviour,' the panel said.

It recommended that the university consider 'corrective or disciplinary actions' against Schatten, but made no specific suggestion.


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