Friday, June 23, 2006

Nayernia to join stem cell effort at Newcastle

The University of Newcastle has recruited Karim Nayernia, a top stem cell scientist from the Georg-August University of Göttingen, Germany to pursue research with the potential to lead to future therapies for a range of medical conditions, such as heart disease, Parkinson's disease and male infertility.

Scientists in Newcastle were the first in Europe to clone a human embryo - which now looks a world first, following the disgrace of the Korean scientist Woo-suk Hwang who had claimed to have done so. [IPBiz note: curiously, the Newcastle folks did NOT follow up with any further papers.]

A key member of the pioneering team at Newcasstle, Miodrag Stojkovic, departed from Newcastle for a better-paid position in Valencia in what appeared to be a dispute over the apportionment of credit for the discovery.

Newcastle said another top scientist, Colin McGuckin, joined the ISCBRM last year to pursue work using stem cells from babies' umbilical cords with co-researcher Nico Forraz. In May they agreed a £160,000 deal with an American stem cell company, which will provide additional funding for their research.

**posted to californiastemcellreport on 22 July 06:

It should be self-evident that scientists working in areas perceived to be trendier will receive more job offers than scientists working in areas considered to be backwaters. But should state and federal governments spend money based on perceptions?

Funding is an issue motivating scientists. Getting proper credit is another. In terms of what has actually motivated "big name stem cell scientists" to move, greater attention should be paid to the latter.

The Scientist said: Miodrag Stojkovic, formerly of Newcastle but now deputy director of Principe Felipe Centro de Investigacion in Valencia, Spain, said Ian Wilmut of Dolly the Sheep fame took too much credit and should not have been first author. "Yes, this is common practice in scientific publishing," he told The Scientist. "But, in my opinion, it is not fair practice." Stojkovic created the UK's first cloned human embryo while working at Newcastle University, but left earlier this year for Spain in part because he felt a colleague took too much credit for his team's work.

Of scientific substance, as opposed to who is getting what job offer, one observes that neither Stojkovic nor his former colleague still at Newcastle (Murdoch) have followed up with any work on their 2004 report of an SCNT-created human blastocyst. Both have plenty of funding. The opportunity to take credit for the first SCNT-created human stem cell line is there for the taking, now that the work of Hwang Woo-Suk is discredited.
The silence is deafening.

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