South Korea’s Disgraced Embryonic Stem Cell Researcher May Go to Thailand

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 11, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Korea’s Disgraced Embryonic Stem Cell Researcher May Go to Thailand Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 11
, 2007

Seoul, South Korea ( — Hwang Woo-suk disappointed a nation when he published medical journal articles fraudulently claiming to have advanced embryonic stem cell research. Now the disgraced scientist, formerly a hero to millions of South Koreans, may be headed to Thailand to work with an international panel of researchers.

Hwang admitted to misleading the world with claims that he overcame hurdles that have prevented embryonic stem cells from helping patients, including bypassing immune system rejection issues with patient-specific stem cells.

New reports indicate that Hwang traveled to Thailand to discuss joining an international consortium for human embryonic stem cell research.

"Doctor Hwang has said he would visit Thailand at the invitation of two research institutes, including a national university, and planned to look at international stem cell research`s situation," the Maeil Business Newspaper quoted a government official as saying.

The official said Hwang may be looking to relocate to another country and work with other scientists and an American research firm so he can obtain human eggs for studies. He lost his license to obtain eggs for research after the fraud in South Korea.

Hwang continues to operate a research lab in the Asian nation dedicated to animal cloning. But whether he could relocate to another country is a considerable question.

The scientist, who was fired from Seoul National University after the controversy, still faces charges from the federal government there that he embezzled both public and private funds meant for his team’s research.

Hwang also stands accused of violating the nation’s bioethics laws prohibiting coercion in the obtaining of human eggs for research.

If convicted on the various charges, Hwang could spend as much as 10 years in prison.