The South Korean stem cell scientist who falsified cloning data was convicted today of embezzlement and illegally buying human eggs. The Seoul Central District Court sentenced Hwang Woo-suk to two years in prison for embezzling research funds and illegally buying human eggs. However, it suspended the penalty, allowing him to stay free if he breaks no laws for three years [Washington Post]. The judge stated Hwang has shown remorse and said that despite his fraudulent research the scientist has made other genuine advancements in cloning.
In May 2005, Hwang published a paper in the journal Science, saying his team had extracted material from cloned human embryos that identically matched the DNA of 11 patients. It was claimed such a technique could be the key to providing personalized cures for diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s [BBC News]. The paper garnered worldwide attention, along with heightened suspicion, because cloning embryonic stem cells was thought to be impossible due to the complexities of human cells. Proving the critics right, an investigation later concluded that the data were intentionally fabricated. Hwang later confessed to obtaining eggs for the research from his female colleagues, a clear violation of research ethics guidelines. However, he maintained that he did not fake his research, and is still working on animal cloning at a local institute.
80beats: Obama’s Guidelines for Stem Cell Research Dodge Controversial Bullets
80beats: Is It Ethical to Pay Women to Donate Eggs for Medical Research?
80beats: Disgraced South Korean Cloning Scientist May Face Jail Time