Friday, January 20, 2006

Researcher Cibelli Quits California Stem Cell Agency

Stem cell researcher Jose Cibelli, who co-authored a fraudulent paper in the Korean scandal, has resigned from his work with the California stem cell agency.

The Sacramento Bee reported his departure this morning in an editorial. Cibelli is under investigation at Michigan State University, a probe he requested himself.

The Bee wrote:
"'Until that issue is resolved, Cibelli has voluntarily withdrawn from his activities on the Standards Working Group, as of Tuesday of this week,' said institute spokeswoman Nicole Pagano."

Among other things, the Standards Working Group deals with the ethics of stem cell research, which came up at a Dec. 1 meeting in which Cibelli participated (see Cibelli item Jan. 12). The discussion included the Korean scandal, but The Bee says it was given short shrift. That triggered a contrary response from the group's co-chair, Bernard Lo of UC San Francisco.

The Bee said,
"For now, it is unclear if Cibelli knew about Hwang's fabrications or simply was duped. Either way, the incident doesn't speak well of his ability to set and enforce rigorous standards on scientists who hope to receive grants from the California institute."

The newspaper continued:
"In a Dec. 29 editorial, this page criticized the institute Standards Working Group for not delving into the South Korean scandal. The working group's chair, Bernard Lo, sent us a highly misleading letter (published Jan. 8) that suggested the working group had engaged in such a discussion at its Dec. 1 meeting, even though it hadn't.

"Much more has been disclosed about Hwang since that meeting. As a result, Lo has no excuse not to have a full discussion about the scandal on Jan. 30. That's when the Standards Working Group is scheduled to meet again - without Cibelli."

Perhaps coincidentally, the CIRM's Governance Subcommittee has scheduled a meeting one week from today that includes discussion of a policy for removal of working group members.

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