by Steven Ertelt
November 23, 2006
Seoul, South Korea (LifeNews.com) — He became the laughingstock of the international scientific community after his entire embryonic stem cell research work was found to be fraudulent. Hwang Woo-suk says he wants to resume the controversial studies, though his timing is ironic as it comes one year after the problems began.
On November 24 last year, Hwang held a press conference to acknowledge concerns that two of the junior researchers on his team had used their own human eggs in their research experiments, violating international guidelines.
Later, it was revealed that Hwang pressured them agree to use their own eggs after they dropped a petri dish of human eggs that were intended for the research.
Those problems led to further scrutiny of Hwang’s research that eventually showed two papers his team published were false.
The team claimed to have cloned a human embryo and created patient-specific embryonic stem cells that could overcome the hurdle of a patient’s immune system rejecting them. Both claims were untrue.
But, on November 24, before the investigation began, Hwang called statements that his research was a hoax "groundless."
Later, a probe revealed Hwang knew the research was fraudulent and Seoul National University banned him and his colleagues from teaching there or conducting research on its campus.
Now, Hwang is on trial for charges that he embezzled public and private money intended for research and spent it on himself, lavish gifts and trips to his colleagues, and in bribing members of the media to obtain favorable news coverage. If convicted, he could spend seven years in prison.
Hwang resumed his animal cloning research at a private lab in August, but his lawyer Lee Geon-haeng tells the Korea Times Hwang wants to resume embryonic stem cell research.
"Hwang wants to work on human embryonic stem cells again. He seems to think that creating patient-specific stem cells is the only way to apologize for all the stir he has caused,’’ Lee said.
"He has confidence that he could create the cells in about half a year should he and his men be allowed to do so,’’ Lee added.
The government has revoked his license to conduct such research but the Times reports that Hwang has build a new research lab in Yongin, about 35 miles south of Seoul.