1. "Ethics: Gerald Schatten of Pittsburgh Breaks with Woo Suk Hwang of Seoul University"
November 12, 2005; Prof. Gerald Schatten, a cell biologist at the University of Pittsburgh and supporter of Dr. Woo Suk Hwang's Lab at Seoul University in SOUTH KOREA, has publicly withdrawn his support to create an international collaboration to create human embryonic stem cells under the auspices of The World Stem Cell Foundation, in which he was to have been a Director, on the grounds that "one of the female lab workers in the project had provided her own eggs for experimentation." This allegation reported in Nature (2004) has been denied several times by Dr. Hwang. It was stated that the donors of human eggs for research were not paid except for direct expenses and were to remain anonymous. In the US, collecting eggs from women working on a cloning project would be considered unethical.
In my own mind, the question of setting up a Research Egg-Donor Program have never been properly resolved with respect to the issue reimbursement. Recall the controversy over California Sen. Deborah Ortiz's Bill that was passed by both the Senate and the Assembly in Sacramento last month but never signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for what were described as technical reasons. However, the issue of someone inside the lab using their own eggs represents a true conflict-of-interest and would, in my view, be a violation of scientific ethical standards. Stay tuned for future developments. So the issue in Pittsburgh is "What did Schatten know and when did he know it?"
Ref.: "U.S. Scientist Quits Stem-Cell Alliance," The Wall Street Journal, p. A5A (November 12, 2005).
November 23, 2005; Now, the plot thickens, as we now learn that US$1,450 (1.5 million won) was paid as compensation to each female research egg donor back in 2002 as reimbursement for transportation and for time lost from work. There was nothing done at that time that was illegal, although it may be illegal if done today, based on newly-introduced laws. However, this would be moot today, since there are now plenty of women volunteers who have come forward wishing to donate "for free."
Furthermore, in my view, based on what I now know, neither was there anything done that was unethical, except for the fact that there was a "cover-up" of sorts. The issue of the alleged coercion of a female lab researcher/doctoral student still needs to be clarified, however. If there was any "black mail" as to whether she could speed up the process of getting a degree by donating her eggs, that would be a different matter. At an earlier time there was a claim that there was a misunderstanding about what this researcher said about wanting to donate eggs to another program when speaking to a journalist, presumably as a result of her poor English. See the WSJ article below for some more details as well as my Editorial on this topic. -- Steve Coles
2. “South Korea's Cloning Expert May Clarify Ethical Dispute This Week"
November 21, 2005; Seoul, SOUTH KOREA (Asia Pulse News) -- South Korea's cloning expert Hwang Woo Suk and his team are expected to disclose the details of their investigation this week into the allegation that they coerced a junior researcher into providing her ova for research purposes, government sources said Sunday. "The result is due Wednesday or Thursday," said a South Korean government official on condition of anonymity. "It is not desirable to predict the result at the moment."
"For now, South Korea's government has no plan to launch a state-level investigation into the scandal despite the ever-mounting controversy surrounding the egg procurement," the official said.
On Thursday, British science weekly Nature called for South Korea's government to launch the state investigation into the ethics dispute surrounding Hwang's research, saying it was time for state regulators to step in to fully disclose details of the scandal.
Another government official labeled the magazine's request as being "senseless" and said the government will decide on its position after the full result of Hwang's investigation comes out.
The 52-year-old scientist and his team have spent a week looking into the claim raised by U.S. Professor Gerald Schatten, who used it to explain why he severed a 20-month-long collaboration with Hwang last Sunday.
Two U.S.-based institutes -- The Pacific Fertility Center and the Children's Neurobiological Solution Foundation -- also withdrew their plans to join Hwang's World Stem-Cell Hub that was launched last month to provide scientists with embryonic stem cells and master cells.
Last year, Hwang stunned the world by creating the first cloned human embryos and
extracting stem cells from them.
In August, Hwang's team captured world headlines again by announcing they had succeeded in producing the world's first cloned dog.
Ref.: Gordon Fairclough and Lina Yoon, "Stem-Cell Researchers Under Fire for Source of Eggs,"The Wall Street Journal, pp. A1, D6 (November 23, 2005).
"Stem-Cell Researchers Under Fire for Source of
Gordon Fairclough, Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal, pp. A1, D6
November 23, 2005; Seoul, SOUTH KOREA -- Questions mounted this week about how women's eggs were obtained for use in experiments that produced stem cells from cloned human embryos for the first time. On Monday, the head of a Seoul fertility clinic, Roh Sung Il, said he paid women who provided eggs used in the research, results of which were published in 2004. The experiments marked a significant advance toward the use of stem cells to treat diseases and put South Korea at the forefront of therapeutic-cloning work. Then, late yesterday, an hour-long TV news show featured interviews with women who said they had sold their eggs because they needed the money.
The revelations deepened an ethics controversy surrounding the stem-cell-research program led by scientist Hwang Woo Suk, in which Dr. Roh collaborated. Dr. Hwang's team has made headlines around the globe for producing the first cloned dog, in addition to its advances in human cloning for the production of stem cells.
Stem cells have the potential to give rise to cells with specialized functions in the body, s such as nerve and muscle cells. Scientists hope they can be used to repair spinal-cord injuries and treat illnesses. Dr. Hwang's work has come under renewed scrutiny since an American biologist, Gerald Schatten, severed a research alliance with Dr. Hwang this month and accused the Korean scientist of misleading him about the source of the eggs used for the research.
Shortly after Dr. Hwang's 2004 paper was published, an article in the journal Nature raised the possibility that some of the eggs used in the work had been provided by laboratory workers. Obtaining eggs from lab workers is considered unethical because they could feel pressured to donate them. On Monday, Dr. Roh declined to say whether any of the eggs came from lab workers; yesterday's news show also didn't say if any eggs were from lab workers.
Dr. Hwang repeatedly has denied those charges. Dr. Schatten said that he had initially
accepted Dr. Hwang's word, but said new information had caused him to question his Korean
Dr. Hwang, who has become a national hero, has promised an explanation, and his lab has said it is conducting an investigation. But Dr. Hwang maintained his public silence yesterday. He didn't respond to a phone message seeking comment.
On Monday, Dr. Roh from the fertility clinic said that, faced with a shortage of eggs for use in therapeutic-cloning experiments, he decided to offer compensation to donors. He said he "didn't tell Dr. Hwang about the arrangement." "I made a difficult decision, for which I alone am responsible," Dr. Roh said at a news conference.
Dr. Roh said that donors knew their eggs might be used for research. He also said that, since publication of the 2004 paper, researchers have had no problem finding donors and that eggs used in subsequent work haven't been obtained from people offered compensation.
Egg donation is time-consuming and can be unpleasant, involving more than a week of daily hormone shots. Eggs are extracted through a hollow needle inserted through the wall of the vagina. "For those who go through discomfort and sacrifice, it seemed natural to give some money as compensation for transportation" expenses and lost time at work, Dr. Roh said. He said he paid each woman 1.5 million won, or about US$1,450, from his own pocket.
Dr. Roh said the compensation of donors took place in 2002. That was before the U.S. National Academy of Sciences published a recommendation that stem-cell researchers should avoid payments and before a Korean law outlawing payments for eggs took effect this year.
-- Lina Yoon contributed to this
Write to Gordon Fairclough at email@example.com
[Editor's Note: I am on record as disagreeing with the NAS Report on this topic. I know what's involved in the marketplace for Donor Eggs for IVF/Infertility Treatment of older women who wish to bear a child as surrogate and have failed IVF with their own eggs more than once at $10,000 per trial. Donor Research Eggs will never see "the light of day" in California, if we don't provide compensation of some sort. My own UCLA Daily Bruin Newspaper regularly advertises in its classified section for women students to serve as egg donors with the going rate starting at $5,000 and up to $10,000 for someone with advanced degrees and a cute photo. Protection of the rights of indigent teenage girls who wish to volunteer for a supervised research donor egg program should be done by means other than the "sledge-hammer approach" of California State Senator Deborah Ortiz (D - Sacramento). If we decline to compensate research egg donor women consistent with market-place rates on so-called ethical grounds, we will be "shooting ourselves in the foot." -- Steve Coles]
4. "Cloning Pioneer Confesses: Stem-Cell Scientist Admits His Employees Donated Their Own Eggs: Hwang Woo Suk Will Continue His Research at Seoul National University"
November 24, 2005; Seoul, SOUTH KOREA ( AP and CNN) -- South Korean cloning pioneer Hwang Woo Suk publicly apologized Thursday for ethics lapses, admitting two female scientists in his lab donated their own eggs for research, in a setback for the work that has raised worldwide hopes it could help find cures for untreatable diseases. "I am very sorry that I have to tell the public words that are too shameful and horrible," Hwang said, appearing downcast and solemn before a news conference. "I should be here reporting the successful results of our research, but I'm sorry instead to have to apologize." Hwang also said he would resign as head of the World Stem Cell Hub "to atone to the public." The Hub, launched last month in Seoul along with international researchers, aims to be a center seeking treatments for now-incurable diseases and had announced plans to open cloning centers in San Francisco and London.
A trained veterinarian, Hwang is a national hero in South Korea and has gained international renown for his breakthroughs, including cloning the world's first human embryos and extracting stem cells from them. Earlier this year, he unveiled the world's first cloned dog, Snuppy.
"Ethics and science are the two wheels that drive the civilization of mankind," Hwang said. "Scientific research should be conducted within the boundaries of ethics but in reality, there were some cases in which the ethics regulations backing (quickly developing) science had not been in place."
Under commonly observed international guidelines, scientists are advised to be cautious when using human subjects for research who are in a dependent relationship with them -- a precaution against exploitation.
Hwang said he and one of the scientists who gave her eggs were previously unaware of the guideline. "I have learned a painful lesson that I should conduct research in a calm and cautious manner by living up to a global standard," he said. Hwang's apology came after the Health Ministry said earlier Thursday that an ethics investigation at the university found the two junior scientists gave their own eggs for research. However, the Ministry said the donations weren't in violation of ethics guidelines because they were made voluntarily. Hwang said he would continue his research at Seoul National University.
"I would like to quit my research ... but to return the favors of the public support and those suffering incurable diseases, I will walk the path of a pure scientist," he said. "Our team will keep on improving the technology that we have achieved, and hope South Korea will without any embarrassment stand again as the leader of this field." Hwang and conducted his own internal investigation into the allegations that have placed his groundbreaking work under a cloud of controversy and led U.S. researchers to withdraw collaboration with the South Korean scientist.
"The responsibility for all disputes and controversy lies on me," Hwang said Thursday. "I will not make any excuse."
The allegations that Hwang's junior researchers had donated eggs for Hwang's research were first made last year in the scientific journal Nature Hwang said a reporter from Nature had asked him about a scientist's eggs in May 2004, the first time it was brought to his attention. He asked the scientist about it and she admitted it, but Hwang said he publicly denied the report because she asked that her privacy be maintained. The Ministry also confirmed Thursday that a doctor who had earlier been collecting eggs for Hwang's research paid some women for their eggs, and that Hwang had recently been made aware of that. Hwang said Thursday he had asked the doctor about the source of the eggs and been told he shouldn't worry about it and to just continue his work.
The payments to egg donors ended in 2003 and weren't illegal at the time. However, Hwang has previously insisted that all eggs obtained for his research were made by donors who gave them in hopes of helping his work. This year, a new South Korean law took effect banning commercial trading of human eggs.
5. Gretchen Vogel, "Collaborators Split Over Ethics Allegations," Science Vol. 310, No. 5751, p. 1100 (November 17, 2005).
6. James Brooke, "Korean Leaves Cloning Center in Ethics Furor: Admits Lying on Source of Donated Eggs," The New York Times, pp. A1,8 (November 25, 2005).
7. While The New York Times featured this story on its font page, The Los Angeles Times ignored it in their print editions. However, they did put the story on-line...
8."Clone Expert Resigns
Over Ethics: After Two Scientists in His Lab Donated their Own
Eggs, South Korean Stem-Cell Researcher Apologizes and Leaves His Foundation"
November 24, 2005; Seoul, SOUTH KOREA (AP) --South Korean cloning pioneer Hwang Woo Suk publicly apologized today for ethics lapses and said he would resign as Head of The World Stem Cell Foundation "to atone to the public." Hwang admitted that two female scientists in his lab donated their own eggs for research. "I am very sorry that I have to tell the public words that are too shameful and horrible," Hwang said, appearing downcast and solemn at a packed news conference.
The stem cell foundation, launched last month in Seoul and staffed by a number of international researchers, aims to be a center seeking treatments for incurable diseases and had announced plans to open cloning centers in San Francisco and London. Hwang, a trained veterinarian, is considered a national hero in South Korea and has gained worldwide attention for his breakthroughs, including cloning the world's first human embryos and extracting stem cells from them. Earlier this year, he unveiled the world's first cloned dog.
"Ethics and science are the two wheels that drive the civilization of mankind," Hwang said. "Scientific research should be conducted within the boundaries of ethics; but in reality, there were some cases in which ethical regulations backing science had not been put in place."
Hwang said he would continue his research at Seoul National University. Hwang's apology came after the Health Ministry said earlier today that an ethics investigation at the university "found the two junior scientists gave their own eggs for research." However, the Ministry decided that the donations weren't in violation of ethics guidelines because they were made voluntarily.
Hwang also had conducted his own internal investigation into the allegations, which have placed his groundbreaking work under a cloud of controversy and led U.S. researchers to withdraw collaboration with him.
9. James Brooke, "Ethics Concerns Force Korean Cloning Center Leader to Quit: Hwang Woo Suk Confirms that Two Junior Researchers Gave Their Own Eggs and That a Hospital Director Paid About 20 Other Women for Donations," San Luis Obispo Tribune, p. A9 (November 25, 2005).
10. "South Korean Cloning Pioneer Apologizes," USA Today, p. 7A (November 25, 2005).
11. Gordon Fairclough, "Women Offer Eggs to Doctor in South Korea," The Wall Street Journal, pp. A1, B1,2 (November 25, 2005).
12. South Korea Vowed Continued Support for Cloning Pioneer Hwang Despite His Resignation as Head of an International Center for Stem-Cell Research Amid Criticism about Ethics," The Wall Street Journal , p. A1 (November 26, 2005).
13. Bo-Mi Lim, AP, "South Korea Stands Behind Troubled Cloning Pioneer: Government Will Still Give His Team $3 Million Annually," San Francisco Chronicle, p. A11 (November 26, 2005).
14. "Egg Cell Scandal Shows Need For Clear Rules: Stem-Cell Hub to Get Emergency Management Team: Support for Cloning Pioneer Still Growing"
November 27, 2005; Reacting to Dr. Hwang Woo-suk's admission at Seoul news conference, Dr. Gerald Schatten said in a statement that the process of human egg donations for stem-cell research should be regulated. Prof. Schatten at the University of Pittsburgh was a collaborator of Dr. Hwang in stem-cell research but broke off ties after accusing Hwang of possible ethical irregularities and misrepresentations regarding egg donation.
Also in the statement, the leading U.S. stem-cell researcher stressed that the scientific conclusions of Dr. Hwang's research should remain intact and expressed his hope that Hwang's scientific feats are not hurt by the recent controversy.
Meanwhile, media outlets around the world have been reporting on the latest controversy over the way Korean stem cell pioneer Hwang Woo Suk obtained human eggs for his research. Some reports view the incident as a worsening crisis while others say Korea's stem-cell circle will eventually overcome this hard time.
With the title "Korean stem-cell crisis deepens," Nature magazine said the pressure on Dr. Hwang Woo-suk was intensifying in his home country. Nature also said Hwang's stem-cell research has suffered a severe setback when he confessed in a press conference to the purchase of human eggs. The New York Times reported that the latest incident puts a major blow in the development of Korea's stem-cell research field. The newspaper said Dr. Hwang's world reputation is now expected to suffer a major dent especially since he admitted that he lied about the way he obtained eggs for his stem-cell research. The NYT also said the recent scandal clouds Dr. Hwang's plans to expand research to the United States.
AFP, however, reported that Dr. Hwang will overcome this hard time because of his passion for stem-cell research. Local media has been releasing bright outlook for Dr. Hwang, highlighting the fact that many Koreans still support him. The World Stem Cell Hub said so far it has received more than 600 egg donors for stem cell research and expects the numbers to continue to rise. Dr. Hwang resigned from his post as the head of the government-funded World Stem Cell Hub, but it is known that the center wants Dr. Hwang back.
However still some analysts say a comeback may not be that easy as the human eggs ethics controversy may give strength to Dr. Hwang's opponents who warn that his work could lead to human cloning.
Dr. Hwang and his team at Seoul National University made worldwide headlines last year
when they cloned the world's first human embryos and extracted stem cells from them. And in
August, this year, Hwang's team cloned the first dog "Snuppy."
-- Arirang News
15. "Support for Cloning Pioneer Still Growing: Stem Cell Hub
to Get Emergency Management Team: Egg-Cell Scandal Shows Need for Clear
November 27, 2005; Support for Korea's troubled cloning pioneer Prof. Hwang Woo Suk over an in-depth report on ethical lapses in his research projects by the broadcaster MBC continued unabated on Saturday. Police estimate that some 100 members of an on-line support group and others held a two-hour candlelight vigil in front of the terrestrial channel's office in Yeouido, Seoul in the evening. They said MBC hurt the national interest with "distorted reporting" on occyte procurement by Hwang's team in its "PD Diary" on November 22nd and called on the broadcaster to apologize by Monday and punish the producers.
Supporters of Prof. Hwang Woo Suk held a candlelight protest against an
MBC program that dug the dirt on the
cloning pioneer, in front of the of broadcaster's office in Yeouido on Saturday afternoon.
Participants in the candlelight rally included pop singer Kang Won-lae, 36, who is
paraplegic since an accident in 2000, and his wife Kim Song, 33, a choreographer. Kim earlier
had ova extracted for artificial insemination and also to donate them for research. But the egg
donation failed when medical problems surfaced during the process. "I had eggs extracted three
times to have a test-tube baby, and the process was exactly the same as the egg donations
for research purposes. The hospital informed me of potential side effects, and I had adequate information," she said. Kang said, "Many patients suffering from hard-to-cure diseases are pinning their hopes on stem-cell research. The ethical issue is inevitable one in this process. But criticizing the research process is tantamount to telling those who still have hopes to give up their lives."
Growing numbers of people are volunteering to donate eggs for Hwang's research since he admitted there were flaws in the way eggs were obtained because of a shortage in donors. An organization devoted to ova donation for scientific research said Sunday some 900 people volunteered through the support website and phone calls. The figure rose steeply to 200 on Thursday after Hwang made the announcement, and rose another 4.5 times since then.
The on-line community "I Love Hwang Woo Suk" ( http://cafe.daum.net/ilovehws ) had risen to 33,996 on Sunday from a mere 19,000 last week.
Note: This website is in the Korean Language.
16. James Brooke, Choe Sang-Hun, and Su Hyun Lee, "South Koreans Rush to Defend Cloning Researcher Against Criticism," The New York Times, p. A7 (November 29, 2005).
22,000 patients have already applied for stem-cell treatment with the World Stem Cell Hub, some of whom appeared in person volunteering to become subjects in a clinical trials
Kang Shin Ik, Vice President of the Korean Bioethics Association, said Monday in an interview that an all-South-Korean panel should be established to ensure that country's research meets international ethical guidelines. "If you invite more foreigners into the process here, you will have a more angry public opinion," he said.
Lee Byong Chon, the No. 2 scientist in the Hwang Lab said, "He is like a father figure to us. We take strong pride in our work, and we will make a fresh start, complying completely with international ethical standards."
17. "Research Leader of the Year: Woo Suk Hwang, Seoul National University," Scientific American, Vol. 293, No. 6, p. 48 (December 2005).
This Korean researcher racked up a series of important advances in embryonic stem-cell technology, including the first lines of cells from patients. Although the Hwang Lab started with 185 eggs to develop 31 blastocysts, they were able to establish 11 stem-cell lines, a ten-fold improvement over the earlier work! Even more remarkable was that each stem-cell line genetically matched one of 11 donor patients, consisting of male and females whose ages ranged from [2 - 56] years. When the time comes that therapeutic cloning becomes the gold standard-of-care for a variety of diseases, Hwang's innovative and groundbreaking explorations will have paved the way.
18. Nicholas Wade, "New Questions on a Breakthrough in Human Stem-Cell Research," The New York Times, p. A10 (December 6, 2005).
19. Antonio Regalado and Gordon Fairclough, "Research Error by Cloning Team Prompts Inquiry," The Wall Street Journal, pp. A1, D7 (December 7, 2005).
[Note: It appears that the duplicated images that appeared in the supporting materials on the on-line Science website, associated with the original 2004 paper describing the team's cloning of human adult cells, was an innocent mistake. The original submission did not have these duplications, and the reviewers likewise never saw them. The duplications in question were inadvertently introduced at a later stage of the editorial process when high-resolution versions were requested by the Editors for the Science website. Dr. Gerald P. Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh also cited an error in a table in the June 17th Science article he coauthored with Prof. Hwang Woo Suk. He indicated that it made no difference to the overall findings, and he admitted that it was Dr. Hwang who had called his attention to the error. Errors of this sort in complex scientific papers are not uncommon, and most mistakes like this are minor. There was no evidence of manipulation that might have invalidated the conclusions of the paper. However, the issue of female lab workers or researchers donating their eggs to the project under false names is considered a serious matter, and when the paper explicitly said that no compensation was provided to the anonymous donors beyond the direct costs of their hyperovulation procedure, we now know that this claim was false. Each woman donor was, in fact, paid US$1,400 in compensation for her egg procurement. Dr. Donald Kennedy, Editor-in-Chief of Science said that this correction will be printed in a future edition of Science as well as being posted on their website in association with the original paper. All parties now hope that we can "move on."]
20. "Probe Finds
Scientist Faked Results"
Gordon Fairclough and Hansol Seo, Staff Reporters for The Wall Street Journal
December 23, 2005 (WSJ; pp. A1, B3) -- South Korean scientist Hwang Woo Suk intentionally faked results for what had been considered ground-breaking cloning research, presenting data showing he had created 11 stem-cell lines, when in fact he had no more than two, according to a panel investigating his work. The panel at Seoul National University, where Dr. Hwang works, said data presented in a paper published in the U.S. journal Science earlier this year was a "deliberate fabrication" -- the first official confirmation of allegations that have surfaced in recent weeks that Dr. Hwang falsified results.
The news is likely to deliver a serious blow to embryonic stem-cell research, already under attack by critics who oppose the creation of cloned human embryos to make stem cells. It also has shocked the scientific establishment in Korea, where Dr. Hwang has been seen as a national hero. During a press briefing Friday morning in Seoul, the panel said it is awaiting DNA-fingerprinting tests to see if the two stem-cell lines on which the data in the paper were based were in fact produced from a cloned human embryo as Dr. Hwang and his Co-authors claimed.
Dr. Hwang used these two cell lines to generate the data he used to back his assertions that he had successfully created 11 patient-specific lines of stem cells through cloning. That apparent breakthrough had raised hopes of rapid progress toward using stem cells to treat a variety of severe illnesses. "This kind of error is a grave act that damages the foundation of science," the panel said in a statement. It said it hadn't decided what disciplinary measures it will recommend to the university.
In light of its discovery, the panel said it would investigate other work by Dr. Hwang, including a 2004 paper reporting the first successful production of stem cells from a cloned human embryo and a 2005 paper on the creation of the world's first cloned dog. Dr. Hwang last week admitted that there were serious errors in the paper now being scrutinized, and he asked Science to retract it. But Dr. Hwang insisted he and his team had succeeded in producing stem cells tailored for specific patients and that his cloning technology worked.
He said that some of the stem-cell lines had been destroyed in a contamination incident in January. He also alleged that someone had switched other cloned stem cells with stem cells from regular embryos. He has asked police to investigate.
Write to Gordon Fairclough at firstname.lastname@example.org.
21. Gordon Fairclough and Hansol Seo, "Probe Finds Scientist Faked Results," The Wall Street Journal, pp. A1, B3 (December 23, 2005).
22. AP, "Faked Research on Stem Cells Is Confirmed by Korean Panel," The New York Times, p. A8 (December 23, 2005).
23. Barbara Demick, Karen Kaplan, and Jinna Park, "S. Korean Faked Stem-Cell Data, University Panel Says," The Los Angeles Times, pp. A1, 10 (December 23, 2005).
24. Constance Holden, Gretchen Vogel, and Dennis Normile, "Korean Cloner Admits Lying about Oocyte Donations," Science, Vol 310, No. 5753, pp. 1402-3 (December 2, 2005).
Korean women have lined up to donate eggs (without compensation) to donate their own eggs for stem-cell research. An interested group has set up a website on November 21st to encourage egg donations at ovadonation.or.kr. They have compiled a list of 800 would-be donors by December 2nd, according to a spokesperson.
[Editor's Note: This seems to me like such a good idea that CIRM (The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine) or The Pacific Fertility Clinic of San Francisco should establish such a website to encourage Californian teenage women to become potential research egg donors. The American Journal of Ethics (Google does not have a listing for a website for this journal. Does anybody know how to get a copy?) has published an article by Hyun describing in detail the guidelines that should be employed for egg procurement by a university-based hospital with fully-Informed Consent forms and an Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects Research already in place. Profs. Mildred Cho and David Magnus of Stanford University have written a commentary saying that if the outlined procedures are followed, "it will be a major step toward meeting the highest standards of ethical oversight for oocyte donation."]
25. Dennis Normile, Gretchen Vogel, Sei Chong, and Ji-soo Kim, "Stem Cells: Korean University Will Investigate Cloning Paper," Science, Vol. 310, No. 5755, pp. 1748-9 (December 16, 2005).
Dr. Alan Coleman our LA-GRG Guest Speaker for December, a member of the team that cloned Dolly the Sheep, and CEO of ES Cell International of Singapore is quoted as saying, "I'd still like to believe that this is a case of sloppy presentation but good science underneath." The original anonymous observations about the ambiguities in the Science paper were posted on an Internet Message Board hosted by The Biological Research Information Center (BRIC) at bric.postech.ac.kr (although this site is in the Korean language, there is a tab at the top right for researchers whose native language is English).
26."South Korean Researcher Faked Stem-Cell Lines, University Says"
December 22, 2005; Seoul, SOUTH KOREA (WSJ and AP) -- South Korean researcher Dr. Hwang Woo Suk faked results of at least 9 of the 11 stem-cell lines he claimed to have created, his University said Friday, in the first confirmation of allegations casting his purported breakthroughs under suspicion. In a May paper in the journal Science, Prof. Hwang claimed to have created 11 stem-cell lines matched to patients in an achievement that raised hopes of creating tailored therapies for hard-to-treat diseases. But one of his former collaborators last week said 9 of the 11 cell lines were faked, prompting reviews by the Journal and an expert Panel at Seoul National University, where Mr. Hwang works.
In its first report on its progress Friday, the panel said it found that "the laboratory data for 11 stem cell lines that were reported in the 2005 paper were all data made using two stem-cell lines in total." To create fake DNA results purporting to show a match, Dr. Hwang's team split cells from one patient into two test tubes for the analysis -- rather than actually match cloned cells to a patient's original cells, the University said. "Based on these facts, the data in the 2005 Science paper cannot be some error from a simple mistake, and cannot be but seen as a deliberate fabrication to make it look like 11 stem-cell lines using results from just 2," the panel said. The panel said DNA tests currently being performed would confirm if the remaining 2 stem-cell lines it had found were actually successfully cloned from one of the patient(s).
In light of the revelations, the Panel said it would now also investigate Mr. Hwang's other landmark papers -- which include another Science article in 2004 on the world's first cloned human embryos, and an August 2005 paper in the journal Nature on the first-ever cloned dog [Snuppy]. The journals already are reviewing all the work.
On Thursday, Mr. Hwang filed a complaint with prosecutors, days after he claimed some of his embryonic stem cells were switched. He had earlier claimed that some of the stem-cell lines his team created were replaced by those created by a Seoul hospital, and called for an investigation.
Investigating Dog-Cloning Claim by Embattled Researcher"
December 21, 2005; Seoul, SOUTH KOREA (WSJ, p. A1; AP) -- A second scientific journal is investigating research by an embattled stem cell scientist -- this time his claim that he cloned a dog. Hwang Woo Suk, internationally renowned for stem cell breakthroughs, is at the center of several probes into his research claims, including two by scientific journals.
The announcement of an investigation into Hwang's dog-cloning paper by the respected London-based journal, Nature, is merely the fallout of other allegations. The cloning report had drawn international headlines because dogs had not been cloned before. In a statement this week, Nature said it has no information casting doubt on the paper, which reported in August that an Afghan hound named Snuppy was produced through cloning. But given allegations that Hwang faked results on other research, the journal said there is "sufficient uncertainty .. for us to wish to remove any doubts over the Nature paper." Nature said its investigation probably won't be concluded before January.
Seoul National University, where Hwang works, was already looking into allegations that he faked the creation of 11 human stem cell lines that were genetically matched to individual patients. A former colleague of Hwang's, Moon Shin-yong, told AP on Wednesday that he has asked the University to investigate an earlier paper, in which Hwang claims to have created the world's first cloned human embryos and extracted stem cells from them.
"In the scientific community, when one paper is proven to be fabricated, it is customary to review all related papers," Moon told AP by telephone. Moon, who was questioned by the University on Wednesday, added that he does not yet know of any problem with the article. Hwang's cloned-embryo paper was published last year in the journal Science, which said on Tuesday that it was investigating that work. At issue are two vital photographs that Hwang used to illustrate his breakthrough claim. They appear identical to photos of stem cells that appeared in 2003 in the journal Molecules and Cells in an article describing a routine experiment.
Hwang has admitted what he called "fatal errors" in this year's report about creating 11 lines of stem cells. He has asked Science to withdraw the paper, which it published in May. He acknowledged that at the time of publication, his team had created only 8 cell lines. But he said 3 more were created later.
Hwang has maintained the research is genuine and said "tests will show his team has the technology to produce the embryonic stem cells," which can be manipulated to grow into any body tissue. Scientists hope to use the technology to create transplant tissue for treating illnesses like diabetes and Parkinson's Disease.
Hwang acknowledged the faults in the paper a day after co-author Roh Sung-il said that Hwang had pressured another scientist to fake data for the report. Roh, Head of Seoul's Mizmedi Hospital, alleged "9 of the 11 cell lines were faked, and the authenticity of the other 2 was unknown."
28. Laurie Zoloth, "Shaking Science's Bedrock of Truth: If the Public Is To Have Faith in Research, It Must Be Above Reproach. The Scandal Surrounding South Korean Stem-Cell Scientists Has Damaged That Trust," The Los Angeles Times, p. B13 (December 24, 2005).
"The bottom line is this: In a complicated world, the public must trust experts, because how can you know what to do if you cannot know what is real? 'Always tell the truth,' we teach our students, and 'Never withhold anything from your data.' This is a categorical imperative for science and indeed for all societies.' Stem-cell science is particularly complex because it has now entered the realm of politics, religion, and the American fascination with moral status, rights, and duties. Discussion of cloning is not only about 'life' but also about 'death.' Stem cells are not just about stem cells but are part of a continuing debate about life and death, our terrible fears and hopes for the future."
In the list of significant scientific/technological accomplishments of the last Century for which this time will come to be known by future historians, one must surely count the following three feats: (1) the discovery of the Atomic Bomb that helped to end World War II (a masterful combination of theoretical physics and engineering prowess in the Manhattan Project), the landing of men on the moon (NASA's Apollo Project that climaxed events started humbly by two dedicated brothers at Kitty Hawk), and the completion of the First Draft of the Human Genome [NIH's HGP] (by engineers who were scoffed at in the early 1990's by other biologists as being an arrogant waste of resources that could be better spent on their own pet projects and might even lead to a potential reduction in their own research budgets [self-interest to the nth power]).
In our view, the next Century will be characterized by the rigorous manipulation of human embryonic and adult stem cells in situ used to rejuvenate sick, old bodies and move human beings toward a dramatic new level of health and longevity undreamed of except in ancient mythology and characterized by magical thinking and/or cautionary tales. This accomplishment will outweigh all the feats of all previous centuries throughout human history, including the three cited above, when it finally comes to pass.
29. Teri Somers, "Stem-Cell Flap Leaves Researchers To Face Facts: South Korea Still Leads in Field, Scientist Says," The San Diego Union Tribune, pp. A1-17 (December 24, 2005).
Drs. Evan Snyder, Ph.D. of the Burnham Institute in La Jolla, CA and Irving Weissman, M.D., Director of the Stanford Institute for Stem-Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in Palo Alto, CA were quoted. Also, "the investigation into Hwang's lab found that there have been a lot more eggs used than were reported, although the exact number was still being determined [vs, the 185 eggs reported in the 2005 Science paper."]
30. Gordon Fairclough and Antonio Regalado, "Fraud Allegations Deal New Setback to Cloning Effort," The Wall Street Journal, pp. A1,6 (December 24, 2005).
31. AP, "Stem-Cell Researcher Question in South Korea: Investigators Are Trying To Determine the Extent to Which Hwang Woo Suk's Team Faked Data," The Los Angeles Times, p. A9 (December 26, 2005).
32. Reuters, "Data Are Expected by Next Week on Claim of Tailored Stem
Cells," The Wall Street Journal, pp. A1, 18 (December 27, 2005).
"Dr. Hwang could face a criminal probe for misappropriation of state funds [~US$40 million] if his work is proved fraudulent."
33. Nathan Seppa, "Stem-Cell Controversy: Scientist Is Retracting Landmark Finding," Science News, Vol. 168, Nos. 26-7, p. 406 (December 24 & 31, 2005).
34. AP, "Korean Scientist Gets Another Hit Over Stem-Cell Research Claims," The Wall Street Journal, pp. A1,14 (December 30, 2005).
35 AP, "South Korea: Researcher Says Scientist Forced Her To Give Eggs," The Los Angeles Times, p. A6 (January 4, 2006).
A researcher in her 20's was coerced into donating her eggs by cloning expert Hwang Woo Suk, South Korean television reporter. "The woman was promised credit on a paper for the U.S. journal Science, published in 2004, in which Hwang announced he had produced the first cloned human embryo," MBC television said. It said she was threatened with removal of her name from the paper if she balked [at making an involuntary oocyte donation for research purposes]. Hwang admitted using the ova of his researchers in violation of [international] ethical standards [for research], but claimed donations were voluntary and [furthermore] done without his knowledge [or consent].
[Editorial Remark: In this finger pointing exercise, it would be of value to know what the evidence was, other than the testimonial "she said; he said." Also, it would be of interest to know what Prof. Gerald Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh knew about this at the time he severed relations with Dr. Hwang.]