Pitt Scientist "Shirked" Responsibilities in South Korea Stem Cell Research Fraud

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 13, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pitt Scientist "Shirked" Responsibilities in South Korea Stem Cell Research Fraud Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
February 13, 2006

Pittsburgh, PA (LifeNews.com) — In a report on his involvement with South Korean scientists who fabricated their embryonic stem cell research, the University of Pittsburgh says professor Gerald Schatten "shirked" his responsibilities. However, the college said Schatten, who was a leading partner with Hwang Woo-suk’s team, did not commit misconduct.

Schatten was the co-author of two papers the team wrote claiming it had successfully cloned human embryos and created patient-specific embryonic stem cells that would avoid rejection issues. Both claims proved false.

The papers were hailed as a great advance in the controversial research, which has yet to cure a single patient, but Seoul National University, where Hwang’s team was based, found that all of the claims were fraudulent.

The Pitt report said Schatten "was not involved in any falsification of data" but took him to task for lapses in judgment.

The report said Schatten "facilitated" the fraud by ignoring reports that the embryonic stem cells had become contaminated and unexplained changes in data making it look like the cloning took place.

It said he "did not exercise a sufficiently critical perspective."

Nicholas Steneck of the University of Michigan told USA Today, "What the report is saying, very forcefully, is that Schatten violated some very important professional standards."

Hwang and his team came under harsher scrutiny from SNU officials, who decided last week that they should be banned from teaching on the college campus or conducting research there.

Meanwhile, Hwang is suing Schatten, who is insisting on his right to use a stem cell patent using research done during his association with Hwang’s team.

Hwang’s lawyers asked Seoul National University, to which Hwang transferred his right to apply for stem-cell related patents, to return the right to the scientist. SNU is attempting to cancel the patent because of the research falsification.

The attorneys said Schatten had done "nothing" to create stem cells was trying to use Hwang’s technology as his own and Hwang plans to take legal action against Schatten after SNU returns the property rights to him.