Notorious Korean Scientist Resigns Over Cloning Scandal

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This past Thursday the South Korean cloning scientist Dr. Woo Suk Hwang publicly admitted to having obtained human egg cells unethically as part of his laboratory’s work on human cloning. Hwang also announced that as a result of the scandal he was resigning his position as director of the World Stem Cell Hub, a major international research consortium.

November 30, 2005
Volume 3, Number 17

This past Thursday the South Korean cloning scientist Dr. Woo Suk Hwang publicly admitted to having obtained human egg cells unethically as part of his laboratory’s work on human cloning. Hwang also announced that as a result of the scandal he was resigning his position as director of the World Stem Cell Hub, a major international research consortium.

The South Korean scientist was the first to successfully clone a human embryo and destroy it in order to extract its stem cells. He has been accused of having taken egg cells from his own female junior researchers in order to perform the cloning procedures. Hwang had denied all allegations until recently.

Last Thursday Hwang held a press conference in the South Korean capital of Seoul and admitted that the allegations were true and that two of his junior researchers had, in fact, donated some of the egg cells that were used to make human clones. Medical ethicists around the world view this method of acquiring egg cells as unethical because it creates great pressures on all female junior scientists to donate eggs in order to “advance science” and also in order to receive tenure and more prestigious academic appointments.

Hwang also announced that he was resigning from his position as director of the World Stem Cell Hub. The Republic of Korea had provided $132-million for the creation of the World Stem Cell Hub. The organization also stated that it will soon name a new “emergency management team” to replace Hwang. According to many Western news sources, such as The Chronicle of Higher Education, many pro-cloning Koreans have made public statements of support for Hwang over the past week.

For years Hwang was the premier researcher into human cloning at Seoul National University. Since developing the first human clone in early 2004, many American cloning researchers had agreed to form with him the World Stem Cell Hub so as to mass-produce human cloned embryos for destruction and stem cell extraction.

All of this was thrown into jeopardy earlier this month when Dr. Gerald Schatten, a biologist at the University of Pittsburgh, announced that he was severing all ties between the World Stem Cell Hub and himself because of the allegations surrounding Hwang’s methods of collecting that human egg.

Editor