06/03/2006, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA

University suspends two colleagues of (fake) "cloning pioneer"

Theresa Kim Hwa-young

Lee Byeong-chun and Kang Seung-keun have been charged with faking, together with Wang Woo-suk, the results of embryonic stem cell research and of embezzling public funds for the studies.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – Seoul National University (SNU) yesterday suspended two colleagues of Hwang Woo-suk, a vet and university professor charged with faking his research results on human cloning. SNU is considering taking disciplinary measures against other collaborators of Hwang, who was fired in March.

Lee Byeong-chun and Kang Seung-keun were accused of faking the outcome of studies on cloning human stem cells while working with Hwang. The two were charged with of embezzling 290 million won (8,000) and 110 million won respectively in public funds, as they received government financing for research based on false achievements. The SNU could sack both, as it did with Hwang, but this depends on the decision of the disciplinary panel chaired by the rector of the university, Chung Un-chan.

Hwang used to be considered as one of the world's leading scholars in the genetic field. The results of his research were published in 2004 and 2005 in two issues of the renowned US scientific journal, Science. The researcher claimed he had created stem cell lines from cloned human embryos. He would have been the first ever scientist to achieve this if the results had not been falsified. Science retracted both articles after the SNU revealed that the studies were faked, and that the stem cells had not been genetically created but had come from donors' eggs. Lee and Kang were co-authors of both articles.

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