South Korea Will Pick Up Embryonic Stem Cell Research Post-Hwang

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 30, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Korea Will Pick Up Embryonic Stem Cell Research Post-Hwang Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 30, 2006

Seoul, South Korea ( — The South Korean government plans to pick up on the embryonic stem cell research and human and animal cloning where disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk left off. The Asian nation will move forward with the international stem cell bank Hwang planned and the animal cloning that produced the world’s first cloned dog.

After months of investigation, a task force of the Ministry of Science and Technology said Thursday that it will also develop a multinational stem cell research working to bring in Korean researchers based around the globe.

"Korea must forge ahead with the medical potential-rich stem cell research despite the disgraceful scandal involving Hwang Woo-suk,” Prof. Kim Dong-wook at Yonsei University, who led the task force, told the Korea Times.

"The envisioned pan-national stem cell network will provide the nation with a useful framework helping Korean stem cell scientists to share information and stage joint studies," Kim added.

Kim said the government would organize a web site to coordinate communication and research between South Korea-based scientists and those in other nations.

"Several illustrious Korean experts staying overseas, mostly in the United States, already have agreed to participate in the network,” he told the Times.

Meanwhile, Seoul National University, where Hwang’s team was based, and MizMedi Hospital, which provided human eggs it paid women to donate, will coordinate the stem cell bank Hwang had planned.

Plans for the bank were scrapped after revelations came forward about Hwang’s team’s fabricated embryonic stem cell research and when top partner, Pittsburgh University scientist Gerald Schatten, backed out.

Kim told the Korea newspaper that the country still wants to be considered one of the leading research centers in the world despite the embarrassment of the international scandal the faked embryonic stem cell research created.

He also indicated the government wants to take advantage of the animal cloning Hwang’s team conducted — it’s only success.

"Hwang and his crew seem to have world-leading technologies in animal cloning. We will absorb the technologies into our initiative of boosting stem cell research," Kim told the Times.

Despite wanting to use his team’s research, Kim indicated Hwang would not be reinstated.