04/10/2007, 00.00
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Another scandal hits research into cloning

by Theresa Kim Hwa-young
A group of independent scientists accuses Lee Byung-cheon and Shin Nam-sik, of cloning wolves and of “manipulation and inaccuracies” during their research. Both admit being at fault but claim their errors were not intentional.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – A new, big scandal has hit South Korean scientific community and its research into cloning.  After the scandal of the false discoveries of the “pioneer of cloning” Hwang Woo-suk, Seoul National University said the school’s Committee on Research Integrity has begun investigating the research team led by professors Lee Byung-cheon and Shin Nam-sik, who on March 26 claimed they had cloned two wolves.


The team announced on March 26 that it had produced the world’s first cloned wolves in October 2005, and that the two females have survived for more than one year and five months. Shortly after the research was made public, a group of young scientists claimed the paper contained manipulated statistics to exaggerate the success rate of the cloning.


The University decided to investigate: they are accused of having intentionally omitted a reference to earlier research and used some inaccurate terms, to exaggerate the success of their research. Following the attack, both professors admitted the inaccuracies but maintained that the fault lies with the magazine that published their report.  According to Lee, none of the numerous errors found in the report were intentional.  


Lee was one of the key members of Hwang Woo-suk’s research team, which faked data in human stem cell cloning research, and was forced to bow to international pressure to withdraw their research and admit that results were fabricated in the laboratory.  


Because of his role in the “Hwang scandal” – who is currently on trial – Lee had been suspended for three months from his post.  Moreover, he currently has to answer to charges of fraud and charges of misappropriating research funds.


Kuk Young, chief of the university’s Office of Research Affairs, yesterday apologized to the public that another university research team faced an ethics charge: “We apologize for failing to create a perfect system, but it is impossible to verify all of the research papers. We will do our best to improve the review system”.

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