Embattled Stem Cell Researcher Begins Effort to Revive His Reputation

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 21, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Embattled Stem Cell Researcher Begins Effort to Revive His Reputation Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
June 21
, 2007

Seoul, South Korea (LifeNews.com) — Now that considerable time has passed since Hwang Woo-suk was front page headlines across the world he is picking up his efforts to revive his reputation. Never mind that Hwang published fake scientific studies, pressured women for their eggs for research, bought off local media and may have embezzled millions.

Just one day after President Bush vetoed a bill that would have forced taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research, the Associated Press released an article featuring several interviews with Hwang’s associates.

The embattled researcher can no longer conduct embryonic stem cell research in his native country because he violated bioethics laws, but he now runs an animal cloning lab south of Seoul.

Hwang is "hoping to restore his credibility" and Kim Sue, one of his top associates now, told AP in a two hour interview that the scientist who mislead the world about the effectiveness of embryonic stem cell research is not the researcher she knows.

“We knew that was not the professor Hwang we knew,” she said of portraits of Hwang as someone willing to dupe the public. “That’s why we told the professor that we wanted to work with him again.”

Hwang turned down AP’s request for comment, likely be cause he is still facing charges from the South Korean government that he embezzled large sums of public and private money intended for research. He allegedly lined his own pockets, purchased human eggs for his studies and gave members of the local media bribes for good news coverage.

Dr. Curt Civin, a stem-cell researcher at Johns Hopkins University, told AP the scientist would have a hard time rehabilitating his image.

“He faces a steep hill that he’s going to have to climb,” Civin said. “I think he can climb it … by solid, serious scientific discovery (with extensive documentation) every step of the way.”

Recent news reports indicated Hwang may be headed to Thailand to work with an international panel of researchers.

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.

But Kim said that wasn’t the case.

“He doesn’t have any plan to give up his research in South Korea and move overseas for the research any time soon,” she.

Kim also told AP that Hwang and his team want to resume research on human embryos and to use human cloning to create embryos for their stem cells.

“We are conducting research on animals so that when we are able to conduct research (on human embryos) we can immediately get down to it,” Kim said. “Making stem cells from cloned human embryos is what we want to do the most."

Hwang would have to be cleared of the various charges first, because, if convicted, he could spend as much as 10 years in prison.