by Maria Vitale Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
February 22, 2006
Pittsburgh, PA (LifeNews.com) — A researcher at the University of Pittsburgh relied on falsified embryonic stem cell research to obtain a $16.1 million federal grant last fall. The fake research was the work of disgraced South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk and his team, which included Pittsburgh biologist Gerald Schatten.
Schatten plans to use the federal money for a research program that will occupy four of the seven floors of the Magee-Womens Research Institute building.
In September, Schatten received a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health based on Hwang’s bogus cloning experiments, according to a report in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper.
The director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, Arthur Caplan, told the Tribune-Review that Pitt officials should question whether Schatten should still be eligible for grants, based upon the fact that Hwang, Schatten’s research partner, has been discredited.
A University of Pittsburgh panel has recommended that university officials discipline Schatten in connection with an article he published in the journal Science, based on Hwang’s falsified research. However, the panel did not accuse Schatten of misconduct.
The Pittsburgh newspaper said Schatten was unavailable for comment.
Schatten and his research team want to study federally approved human embryonic stem cell lines. However, a number of bioethicists say that such experiments are unethical, since they involve the killing of human embryos. Also, to date, embryonic stem cell research has resulted in no successful therapies for treating diseases.
In sharp contrast, adult stem cell research, which does not involve embryo killing, has been vastly successful in producing successful treatments.
The Pittsburgh newspaper says it’s unknown whether the NIH will consider withdrawing Schatten’s grant because of his connection to faked research.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for Schatten has indicated that the Pittsburgh researcher is willing to respond to requests from Korean prosecutors for information about his involvement in the fabricated work.
Researcher Kang Sung keun has said he overheard Schatten plotting with Hwang to fabricate the 2005 research paper. Korean prosecutors have also attempted to consult the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the U.S. in connection with the case.
Schatten resigned from his partnership with Hwang in November of last year after learning that Hwang had covered up the human egg donations researchers on his team made for the experiments.