Friday, May 12, 2006

Bloomberg followup on Hwang indictment

"This case was akin to the collapse of Sungsu Bridge in the science world," Lee said, referring to the 1994 collapse of a bridge in the center of Seoul that killed 32 people. "It stemmed from a handful of scientists abusing the public's high expectation for stem cells and conducting unconscientious and unscientific research methods."

Suspicions about Hwang's work were made public last December when South Korea's Munhwa Broadcasting Corp. [MBC], which produces an investigative program [PD Notebook, now off the air], said a sample of eggs it had obtained from Hwang's research "did not corroborate Dr. Hwang's published studies." The fraud was confirmed in January when investigators weren't able to find the stem cells Hwang said he had made. [PD Notebook did this study because of the allegations made by the anonymous whistleblower in about June 2005.]

Prosecutors May 12 confirmed Hwang's initial claims that one of his junior researchers, Kim Sun Jong, falsified results of the 2004 and 2005 studies to obtain exchange fellowships in the U.S. Although Hwang wasn't involved in the initial fraud, he tried to cover up the fact after it was discovered, Lee said.

Prosecutors will indict Kim for evidence tampering and obstruction of business, Lee said. Prosecutors also will indict Hwang's fellow researchers Lee Byung Chun, Kang Sung Geun and Yoon Hyun Soo for fraud, and Jang Sang Shik for breaching the bioethics law.


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