by Steven Ertelt
January 3, 2006
Seoul, South Korea (LifeNews.com) — A colleague of embattled embryonic stem cell researcher Hwang Woo-suk says Hwang knew from the beginning that human eggs were being purchased in large quantities and with substantial amounts of money. The colleague previously said Hwang wasn’t involved, in order to protect him.
Roh Sung-il, the head of the fertility clinic MizMedi Hospital, told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday that 75 women had been paid 1.5 million won ($1,500) each for egg donations between 2002 and 2005.
Roh said in November that he had paid some of the donors but said that Hwang wasn’t involved "in consideration of national sentiment."
"Now it is time to tell the truth," Roh said.
"When we first started stem cell studies in October of 2002," Roh told the Ilbo newspaper, "I told Dr. Hwang that we could not obtain the eggs unless we paid for them. Dr. Hwang’s team paid 1.5 million won to 10 women and I paid for the rest."
Roh was one of Hwang’s co-authors on the article claiming to have made patient-specific embryonic stem cells. A probe by Seoul National University, where Hwang’s team is based, determined that all of the supposed cells were fabricated.
The South Korean MBC television station also reported on the egg donations and found that Hwang had known of the paid donations since the research began and that about 1,600 eggs provided by 86 women had been used in his studies over the past two years.
Hwang has also come under fire for allegedly forcing a junior research scientist to donate her eggs for his research after she accidentally knocked over petrii dishes containing human eggs for research.
In November, Hwang admitted he lied about and covered up the voluntary donations of human eggs by two junior research, which is considered a breach of research ethics.