Wednesday, December 07, 2005

U. of Pittsburgh and the Schatten/Hwang Affair

The flap about South Korea stem cell research is not getting much current attention in the US media, but that could change.

The latest reports from South Korea say that the University of Pittsburgh is paying to help South Korean researchers secure permanent resident status. Obviously, employers assist with immigration matters regularly, but the Koreans suspect skulduggery.

Here is a report from Digital Chosun in South Korea:

"Fears mounted on Wednesday that key cloning technology developed by stem cell pioneer Prof. Hwang Woo-suk and his research team could be leaked abroad after it emerged that two former team members have applied for permanent residence in the U.S. The two are party to sensitive inside knowledge on core stem cell technology.

"A source in Hwang's team said the two were seconded to the University of Pittsburgh last year and now applied for residence in the U.S.

"One of them is said to be Park Eul-soon, who made headlines last week by dropping out of sight and severing contact with the Seoul National University team. She is party to a newly developed technique for the removal of an egg's nucleus for cloning and has played a key role in Pittsburgh Prof. Gerald Schatten's cloning of monkey embryos. The other former team member has inside knowledge of embryonic stem cell cultivation technology."

The Schatten/Hwang affair has implications for the conduct of stem cell research in California. One of which is that maximum disclosure of all significant financial interests is needed, given the built-in conflicts with the stem cell agency. Sunshine is the best preventative, as we have noted earlier.

We have queried the University of Pittsburgh concerning its role and will carry its response when we receive it. Sphere: Related Content

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