Monday, December 19, 2005

California Stem Cell Leaders Speak to Korean Scandal

A number of California stem cell researchers discussed the Korean stem cell scandal in a piece by reporter Bruce Lieberman in the San Diego Union-Tribune, including two members of the Oversight Committee of the California stem cell agency. Here are some excerpts from the article:
"'It's a black eye on the whole world of science,' Richard Murphy, president of the Salk Institute in La Jolla (and CIRM director), said. 'Exciting areas of research are always competitive . . . but healthy competition never justifies sloppy research, cutting corners or dishonest behavior.'"

"'We would have figured out very quickly that there was some problem here. . . . And the truth would have come out much sooner had we been in a position like we normally are – to be able to jump in and work with complete freedom,' said John C. Reed, president of the Burnham Institute in La Jolla(also a CIRM director). 'It's very important that we have laboratories throughout the country and around the world to . . . verify whether observations made by one group are reproducible by another.'"

"Dr. Evan Snyder, head of stem cell research at the Burnham Institute in La Jolla, said the embarrassing South Korea episode shows how science's built-in system of checks and balances can root out misconduct.
"'This was an example of the scientific community doing what it does routinely, which is police itself,' Snyder said.
The story also quoted Hallye Jordan, a spokeswoman for State Sen. Deborah Ortiz, the lead author of a proposed ballot measure to tighten controls on the California stem cell agency.

"'This whole unfortunate episode has pointed to the need for good governmental oversight of this important research," Jordan said last week. 'We want to maintain the public's confidence in stem cell research, and the best way to do that is through accountability and openness.'"

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