Stem Cell Crack Up

|

University of Pittsburgh biologist Gerald Schatten has had a further falling out with his erstwhile collaborator South Korean stem cell researcher Woo-Suk Hwang. In November Schatten broke with Hwang over the fact that Hwang had used purchased human eggs and eggs donated by junior staff for his research, and apparently lied about it. Now Schatten wants his name taken off the Science article which detailed how Hwang created 11 patient-specific human embryonic stem cell lines. Schatten now believes that that paper contains inaccuracies and possibly even fabrications.

Fabricating results is the worst scientific crime that a researcher can commit. It's the moral equivalent of capital murder. Perhaps Hwang will have an explanation, but it's not looking good right now.

NEXT: The Meaning of Gebran Tueni

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Fabricating results is the worst scientific crime that a researcher can commit.

    I concur. However, from what I heard, it’s more of a procedural violation, not of the “cold fusion” variety.

    Hwang is said to be preparing a response that will address and clean up his missteps. But his ongoing troubles are apparently taking a toll.

  2. my biggest concern is that the fallout from something like this will cause many opponents to hamper the technology on an ad hominem basis, rather than on the merits of the science.

    “See! I told you stem cell research is awful! Just look at the morals and ethics of the people conducting it!

  3. downstater,
    Right, same way we need to keep drugs illegal because the drug trade is run by organized crime and full of scummy lowlifes.

  4. woo suck wang?!?!

    Hehehehehehehehehehehehe!

  5. Woo, that suks for him.

  6. Ask Thoreau, I’m sure he’ll agree that the worst scientific crime that a researcher can commit is to fail to procure a grant.

  7. NoStar-

    In the eyes of tenure committees? Yep, no worse crime than failure to get a grant.

    Personally, though, I think the worst crime is data falsification.

  8. Data falsification? That’s only a nono if you HAVEN’T won a Nobel Prize. Friggin’ amateurs.

  9. Personally, though, I think the worst crime is data falsification.

    Well, unless you’re pro gun-control/global warming/war on drugs/etc. TEJtM.

  10. It makes me wonder if the United States and Britain are trying to make this South Korean researcher look as badly as possible in the international spotlight.

    I mean if we can’t research it, no one else should be able to either.

    Moral legislation for the world!

  11. From what I recall of the David Baltimore affair, his involvement was fairly peripheral. In fact, wasn’t he actually unaware that the authors had added his name to the paper?

  12. “It makes me wonder if the United States and Britain are trying to make this South Korean researcher look as badly as possible in the international spotlight.”

    No way. I live in Seoul right now and we NEED the US and Britain to be critical and objective. This country is fueled by insane nationalism a basic allegy to any criticism on a national level.

    MBC, the main news channel here, reported this same story, and had to issue an apology and retraction a couple of days later. A candlelight vigil and women proclaiming and begging to donate their eggs on a public forum ensued.

    Ridiculous. Thank god for the international media.

  13. While the U.S. and Britain can certainly be critical I doubt they can be objective.

    It sounds to me like you’re not native to the country. Perhaps it is very difficult for someone not from that country to understand their culture.

    Seems to me any accusations leveled at the Britain and especially the U.S. are typically ignored, ridiculed, or pressured to withdrawn.

    In this one I’d probably side with the Koreans out of priniciple and an extreme dislike of the American government.

  14. Just because I am not part of the culture does not mean I understand it, and living here for many years I think I rather do.

    I hate the US government as much as the next guy, but it does not compare to the type of nationalistic nonsense that goes on here. Seriously…it is an another level. I suggest you look up the Dokodo/Takashima issue.

    My point was…if foreign governments do not criticize, then no one will…for Hwang is the darling of South Korea and despite true or untrue accusations remains untouchable was it not for foreign press. I suggest you also look into the type of plaijiarism and forgery that has been discovered at universities here…why do you think they have such abysmal rankings?

  15. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on that one, I definitely haven’t lived there, so I’m likely not qualified to judge them.

    Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll look those issues up.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.