Former Hwang Embryonic Stem Cell Research Partner Will Help SNU Probe

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 3, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Former Hwang Embryonic Stem Cell Research Partner Will Help SNU Probe Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 3, 2006

Washington, DC ( — The University of Pittsburgh, home to former Hwang Woo-suk partner Gerald Schatten, says it’s not going to comment on the controversy over Hwang’s fabricated embryonic stem cell research until it’s own investigation is complete. Meanwhile, it says Schatten will help the South Korean team looking into the faked research.

A Pitt spokesman told the Associated Press it is also investigating the research conducted by Hwang and Schatten, who is based there.

Seoul National University, where Hwang is based, has looked into part of his research and determined that all of the 11 patient-specific embryonic stem cells the two claimed to have created were fabricated.

Schatten was Hwang’s top partner and slated to become the head of their world stem cell hub. He ended his partnership after learning that Hwang had lied about and covered up the human egg donations made by two junior researchers.

SNU wants to interview Schatten as it continues to look into the rest of Hwang’s team’s research. Pitt spokeswoman Jane Duffield told AP Schatten has not responded to SNU’s request because he has been away during the Christmas holiday.

The SNU panel has also requested an interview with Park Jong-hyuk, who co-authored the 2005 paper with Hwang and Schatten claiming to have created the patient-specific cell. Park also works at Pitt.

"We have yet to receive responses, but expect both to agree," the university said in a statement issued Tuesday. "It looks like the interviews would be conducted either through video conferencing or by phone."

Duffield said Myung-Hee Chung, chairman of the investigative committee at Seoul National University, emailed Schatten the questions they want answered.

SNU is expected to release the rest of its findings next week, including whether or not Hwang’s team successfully cloned human embryos and a dog named Snuppy. Both were firsts and propelled Hwang to international stardom, but scientists now say they doubt either claim is true.