Thursday, December 15, 2005

Korean Mess Bad News for Funding of California Stem Cell Agency

The tangled Korea-Egg scandal became more convoluted today with an adamant denial by Hwang Woo-suk that he falsified stem cell research findings.

His statement came after news outlets worldwide published reports quoting a co-researcher as saying that Hwang had essentially confessed.

That did not appear to be the case according to reporter Kwang-Tae Kim of The Associated Press.

"South Korean researcher Hwang Woo-suk on Friday stood by his purported breakthroughs in stem cell research despite accusations he falsified key evidence, saying his work would be authenticated after tests performed within days," The AP said.

Hwang said he was "shocked" by his co-researcher's statement that work was faked. reported the Korean stock market declined as a result of the flap. Bloomberg wrote:
"'I apologize for creating this uproar both in and out of Korea,' Hwang told reporters at a briefing in Seoul today. 'The fact remains that our research team was successful in creating stem cells from patients' skin cells. Still, there were mistakes made, human errors, in taking photographs and in the preservation of the stem cells.' Hwang said he will seek agreement from his 24 coauthors to retract the study from Science."
Reuters reported:
"'Our six research members made 11 stem cells and all confirmed this,' Hwang said at the packed briefing in a lecture hall. 'We six researchers have no doubt.'" Hwang said the cells had been badly contaminated by a fungus and he planned to ask prosecutors to investigate his suspicion that they may have been tampered with or replaced."
Reuters continued:
"Hwang said he was retracting the paper from Science because of the uproar, even though he did not doubt his findings. He said a follow-up paper had been submitted to another journal and that would restore faith in his team."
Newspaper readers all across the country this morning will see stories about Hwang's alleged confession. If they hear anything on the radio or TV it will lead with his denial. The Internet will have it all. Major confusion will result until this is all sorted out, but meanwhile stem cell research will take a hefty PR hit. And that is not good for the folks trying to sell tens of million of dollars in notes to finance the California stem cell agency.

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