Science To Retract Questionable Article on Stem Cell Research
The journal Science on Wednesday announced plans to retract a June 2005 article written by South Korean scientist Hwang Woo Suk and colleagues in which they claimed to have cloned human embryonic stem cells, Reuters/Boston Globe reports (Reuters/Boston Globe, 1/5).
Hwang has admitted that he did not successfully clone embryonic stem cells from 11 patients as he said in the article, according to Roh Sung Il, a colleague and co-author of the paper. Roh said that Hwang told him he fabricated some of the research results he said he accomplished in the article.
Donald Kennedy, editor in chief of Science, last month said that all of the authors of the article must agree to the request and sign a statement that provides details on the problems with the article (American Health Line, 12/20/05).
According to Science, all of the authors have signed the statement. Science will finalize the text of the retraction next week after the Seoul National University, where Hwang worked, completes an investigation to "convey accurately as much information as possible to the scientific community," the journal said in a statement (Reuters/Boston Globe, 1/5).
According to the New York Times, Science also has begun an investigation into "an even more important" 2004 article written by Hwang and colleagues in which he claimed to have performed the first creation of human embryonic stem cells (Kolata, New York Times, 12/31/05).
An SNU investigator last week said that none of the stem cell lines scientist Hwang claimed he had cloned in the article exist, the Washington Post reports (Weiss, Washington Post, 12/30/05). Hwang resigned from SNU on Dec. 23, 2005, after the university investigation determined that he fabricated the research results.
Hwang had cited "human errors" for problems with the research results.
However, Roe Jung Hye, dean of research at SNU, said that the problems "were not accidental mistakes but were an intentional fabrication" (Sang-Hun/Wade, New York Times, 12/24).
Korean news sources have reported that the investigation "has broadened to embrace allegations that government officials -- concerned about the shame such revelations could bring upon their country -- may have attempted to bribe scientists who were considered potential whistle-blowers," the Post reports (Washington Post, 12/30/05).
"Reports have also raised questions" that Hwang might have made payments to two study co-authors -- Kim Seon Jong and Park Jong Hyuk -- "as doubts rose about his work," the Times reports (Kolata, New York Times, 12/31/05). An investigative committee from SNU has contacted Park, a visiting scholar at the University of Pittsburgh, and Gerald Schatten, a researcher at Pitt and an article co-author, to seek their testimony (Srikameswaran, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1/4).