by Steven Ertelt
March 20, 2006
Seoul, South Korea (LifeNews.com) — Seoul National University officially fired disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk on Monday from his position as a professor of veterinary medicine because of his role in faking embryonic stem cell research. The decision was a formality because Hwang resigned from in December after allegations of fraud began to surface.
SNU’s disciplinary committee decided to cut Hwang’s severance pay in half and the government will not be able to hire him for five years for any teaching or research position.
The university will also cut the salaries of or suspend six other members of Hwang’s team for participating in the hoax.
"The disciplinary committee has decided to fire Hwang and to take punitive action against six other professors," a university spokesman told the French news agency AFP.
"The professors fundamentally abandoned honesty and sincerity … and caused the fall in the school’s honor and the country’s international confidence," the university said in a statement.
Byun Chang-ku, dean of the school’s academic affairs, told AP it fired Hwang because he "took overall responsibility as the lead author and played a leading role in writing the papers with fake facts and data."
Hwang’s team published two papers in the medical journal Science claiming to have cloned human embryos and patient-specific embryonic stem cells.
The claims were hailed as a huge advance in embryonic stem cell research, but SNU officials and the South Korean government both confirmed the advancements never took place and the papers were revoked. As a result, embryonic stem cell research is still far away from ever helping human patients. if ever.
Last month the school temporarily suspended Hwang and his colleagues and prohibited them from ever conducting research there.
Government prosecutors are still conducting a probe into whether or not Hwang embezzled more than $6 million in public and private funds meant for the research.