Disgraced Embryonic Stem Cell Researcher Hwang Woo-Suk May Study Again
by Steven Ertelt
July 29, 2008
Seoul, South Korea (LifeNews.com) — Embattled scientist Hwang Woo-suk, who became an international embarrassment after he admitted to faking his embryonic stem cell research, has been hoping to re-enter the field for years. South Korea officials will decide later this week if he can do so.
Hwang still faces potential jail time as a result of allegations of widespread embezzlement of public and private research funds.
The scientist is banned from using human eggs in any research and has been engaged in animal cloning at the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation. That’s the company that is teaming up with a California firm to sell cloned dogs.
In December, that company asked for permission from the country’s government to proceed with an new embryonic stem cell research project that uses "aborted human eggs."
An unnamed health ministry official told AFP that, "We will make a decision on the request this week, probably on Saturday, after taking various factors into consideration."
Hwang and some of his top colleagues were indicted in May 2006 by South Korean prosecutors and charged with fraud, embezzlement and violating bioethics rules. Five members of Hwang’s team were indicted, including one scientist who worked in the laboratory of University of Pittsburgh researcher Gerald Schatten, a former collaborator with Hwang.
Hwang was charged with accepting $2 million in donations after he knowingly falsified the embryonic stem cell research by claiming his team had produced a cloned human embryo and cloned patient-specific embryonic stem cells.
If convicted, Hwang could spend as much as ten years in jail.
Prosecutor Lee In-kyu also said Hwang embezzled $900,000 in private and government donations to the research. After getting more than $35 billion in research funds from the government and private donors, South Korean prosecutors say Hwang misused much of the money by laundering it through 63 bank accounts set up under false names.
Lee indicated Hwang’s team also paid for human eggs for research, which is a violation of the nation’s bioethics laws.
In the studies his team conducted, Hwang claimed to have created the first cloned human embryo and claimed to have created patient-matched embryonic stem cells that would overcome immune system rejection issues.
Hwang’s team published the results of the research in two papers in the scientific journal Nature, which has since revoked them after learning they were fraudulent.
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