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Thread: The Rise and Fall of the Cloning King

  1. #1
    Banned Faye's Avatar
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    The Rise and Fall of the Cloning King

    The Rise and Fall of the Cloning King

    Woo Suk Hwang led the world in human cloning and became a national hero in South Korea. Now he's a scientific pariah. Inside his demise
    By MICHAEL D. LEMONICK

    Posted Sunday, Jan. 01, 2006

    When Woo Suk Hwang burst into international prominence back in 2004, seemingly out of nowhere, his story seemed too good to be true. Here was a poor Korean farm boy who had overcome his humble origins to become a leading veterinary scientist, and then gone on to achieve a scientific landmark: the first therapeutic cloning of a human embryo. That transformed him into a biomedical superstar and made his native South Korea--a country better known for its serial television dramas than its scientific accomplishments--into the undisputed leader of a technology that could revolutionize modern medicine.

    Over the next year or so, the tale only got better. Hwang, aided by a tireless, dedicated and underpaid laboratory staff that venerated him, went on to create multiple lines of thriving stem cells with unprecedented efficiency and ease. He topped his performance off last summer with yet another feat that had eluded some of the world's most talented scientists: the first cloning of a dog, called Snuppy. TIME named Snuppy "Invention of the Year" for 2005, but that was merely the icing on a cake of praise and recognition for Hwang.

    Scientists from around the world were clamoring to collaborate with him. Volunteers besieged his operation, offering themselves as research subjects. The South Korean government began pouring millions into his chronically underfunded lab. He was given round-the-clock security and free travel on Korean Air for life.

    But in the months since Snuppy's debut in the journal Nature, Hwang's saga has been rewritten--as a Greek tragedy. One by one, he has faced an escalating series of charges.......

    Even if Hwang's two remaining triumphs, Snuppy and the first human cloning, emerge untainted, urgent questions remain. How did his now invalidated stem-cell paper get into a major scientific journal? How did such serious flaws go undetected for months? And could he have knowingly taken such foolish risks?
    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/ar...oid=rss_health

    "There’s far too much unthinking respect given to authority,” Molly Ivins explained; “What you need is sustained outrage.”
    Kerr, Keirstead, McDonald, Stice and Jun Yan courageously work on ESCR to Cure SCI.

    Divisiveness comes from not following Christopher Reeve's ESCR lead.
    Young does ASCR.
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  2. #2
    Banned Faye's Avatar
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    accessible scientist became a father-like figure for his young charges

    This is what's so mystifying.....
    But why it happened is still a mystery. By all accounts, the tales of Hwang's dedication and personal discipline are all true. Hwang was one of the first to arrive in the lab, at 5 a.m., and rarely left before midnight. He rejected the role of aloof, inaccessible scientist to become a father-like figure for his young charges. And he introduced some genuine innovations into the science of cloning--gently squeezing the nucleus out of a donor egg rather than sucking it out violently and inserting the entire adult cell, not just its nucleus, into the hollowed-out recipient egg. Hwang insisted he had no interest in profiting from his discoveries; indeed, he turned over his patent rights to the university and the government.

    "There’s far too much unthinking respect given to authority,” Molly Ivins explained; “What you need is sustained outrage.”
    Kerr, Keirstead, McDonald, Stice and Jun Yan courageously work on ESCR to Cure SCI.

    Divisiveness comes from not following Christopher Reeve's ESCR lead.
    Young does ASCR.
    [I]I do not tear down CRPA, I ONLY make peopl

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Faye
    This is what's so mystifying.....
    Hwang may, dare I say it, be like President Bush. Bush believed, in my opinion, that Iraq posed a severe threat to us and possessed weapons of mass destructions. He looked at the data and interpreted them the way he wanted. He presented the public with information that bolstered his case, avoiding prioritizing documents and opinions that detracted from it.

    Hwang may be under similar dillusions. Researchers are allowed to omit data in their journal submissions that may go against their conclusion. (Probably not explicitly allowed, but maybe not dealt with strictly enough to discourage the practice.) Data may exist other than what Hwang has publicly acknowleded; the number of eggs used, for example.

    Or, the lab technicians could have duped Hwang. They apparently worked in a loosely supervised environment and Hwang probably got agitated after failures, so the technicians extracted ESCs from the Medmezi eggs and tricked Hwang into believing they were succeeding.

    Hwang may believe so strongly in the research that he's seeing what he chooses to see.

    Until Hwang proves his "source technology," after all that's occurred, you have to kinda take what he says with a healthy dose of skepticism.
    ...it's worse than we thought. it turns out the people at the white house are not secret muslims, they're nerds.

  4. #4
    We should not underestimate the power of pressure on scientists to come out with cures. I have seen this even in my own laboratory, when scientists are so anxious to see that treatments work that they cannot be truly objective about their results. For that reason, we often carry out our animal experiments double-blinded, i.e. the personnel who carry out the injury or the evaluation of the animals are not aware of the treatments received by individual animals until the analysis has been completed, to avoid any possibility of bias.

    Motivation to help people may have played a role in Woo-Suk Hwang's behavior. He clearly felt strongly that his research would be beneficial to people. He also knew, as evidenced by his continued inclusion of overseas collaborators in his papers, that his experience is limited and perhaps not credible to others. As Faye emphasized in her selection of the quote from the paper, Woo-Suk Hwang was not a scientist who made up data out of laziness or for financial gain. He was clearly very hard-working and altruistic.

    I must say, however, even if Hwang were exonerated of deliberate falsification of data, some of his behavior, that was exposed by the investigation and he admitted to, suggests that his science or at least his administration of his laboratory is unacceptably sloppy. It is beyond my ken, for example, how he could have lost all the cell lines due to a fungus infection. His staff was not freezing down the cells as any responsible laboratory would be doing all along the way during the experiments. I also don't understand why he did not simply admit that the eggs came from junior colleagues when he discovered it, instead of lying about it to the journal and to the public. These do not give me confidence in his ability and judgment to run a major laboratory.

    Wise.
    Last edited by Wise Young; 01-01-2006 at 09:07 PM.

  5. #5
    I feel the verdict is still not out. It was only a month ago when people jumped on mbc for bringing up the claims and they were forced to apologize, now those claims seem real, but are they? If we can assume that MBC was at fault and we can assume that a caring scientist could be part of a hoax, then we must also assume it could be sabotage like Hwang claims, until we know for sure. I also feel that had his research been on a treatment that was intended for use on people that would be a different story, here, it was not that and was a procedure to produce a certain type of cell, if it couldn't be produced it couldn't be used. Also for him to make a claim that he could do this procedure while he knew he couldn't bogles my mind. Why would he lie about that as in a few months it would have been found out anyway? Do you think Hwang was only looking for a few months of glory?
    Don't ignore the Reeve Legacy, Remember he and Dana supported open research and fought hard for ESCR

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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by bigbob
    I feel the verdict is still not out. It was only a month ago when people jumped on mbc for bringing up the claims and they were forced to apologize, now those claims seem real, but are they? If we can assume that MBC was at fault and we can assume that a caring scientist could be part of a hoax, then we must also assume it could be sabotage like Hwang claims, until we know for sure. I also feel that had his research been on a treatment that was intended for use on people that would be a different story, here, it was not that and was a procedure to produce a certain type of cell, if it couldn't be produced it couldn't be used. Also for him to make a claim that he could do this procedure while he knew he couldn't bogles my mind. Why would he lie about that as in a few months it would have been found out anyway? Do you think Hwang was only looking for a few months of glory?
    BigBob, I agree with you. Something just doesn't add up. It boggles my mind also. It is not possible for a person who is the head of a large laboratory to fool so many people so much and for so long. Dozens of people participated in the research. For him and them to have fabricated all the data and fooled not only people from the outside but all the people on the laboratory simply cannot be. It is also very unlikely that one of the his staff could have done so without his knowledge or the knowledge of others. This requires wholesale invention at a level never done before.

    When scientific fraud happens, it usually occurs in small laboratories with only one investigator with at most one or two people involved in the research. In such cases, it is relatively easy for a scientist to switch cells or fake the data. However, in the laboratory of this size where dozens of people are trying to create the clones and others are trying to analyze the results, it is almost inconceivable that the results could be faked. That is the main reason why reviewers of the journal Science believed the results when it was submitted.

    Wise.

  7. #7
    Dr. Young,
    I'm glad you feel that way.
    In a world where we have seen people have a goal and then change facts to support that goal(IRAQ WAR) and even pay off the Iraqi media to run favorable news, I would say there are some groups which could either based on ethical concerns or even financial concerns such as a drug company concerned about losing business, that they could resort to the same tactics. Or, who knows maybe Hwang has a cute daughter that rejected one of the technicians.
    Don't ignore the Reeve Legacy, Remember he and Dana supported open research and fought hard for ESCR

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  8. #8

    Conspiracy?

    Conspiracy?

    Publication Date : 2006-01-02


    Disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk defended himself insisting he has the technology to produce patient-specific stem cells and that he had been the victim of a "long-planned" conspiracy.

    An investigation panel at Seoul National University has concluded Hwang did not produce any embryonic stem cells individually tailored to patients as claimed in a paper published in the journal Science last year.

    Hwang stood by his work in an interview with a local Buddhist newspaper Saturday (Dec 31)

    "I definitely have the source technology to produce tailored embryonic stem cells," Hwang was quoted as saying in Beopbo. "I can replicate the process any time."

    He repeated his claim that the laboratory samples found to have been falsified must have been switched and that a state prosecutor's investigation into the claims of a sample swap would reveal the truth "within a couple of days."

    Hwang has filed a complaint with prosecutors that some of the stem cell lines his team created were replaced by those made at MizMedi.
    "The replacement took place under a detailed plan over quite a long period of time," Hwang said, according to the newspaper.
    BTW, Hwang is already disgraced, why would he start a new lie about a conspiracy if he really can't duplicate the science, it would only prolong his agony.
    Last edited by bigbob; 01-02-2006 at 11:32 AM.
    Don't ignore the Reeve Legacy, Remember he and Dana supported open research and fought hard for ESCR

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  9. #9
    Hwang was forced to resign from all public posts after admitting on 24 November that he had violated ethical guidelines by using in his research eggs donated by two female assistants working under him. But he denied that the researchers were forced to donate their eggs, saying he was not aware of how exactly the eggs were procured for the experiments.
    Fr Lee Dong-ik Remigio, professor at the Catholic University of Seoul and member of the National Ethics Committee, does not share this view. In an interview with the Catholic PBS radio, he said “there are suspicions that he made some kind of agreement with his researchers before the paper came out in 2004. It shows there may have been an atmosphere of coercion, forcing them to donate their ova." The priest recalled hearing that a researcher under Hwang had made a testimony to that effect. "So I raised the issue at a meeting of the committee on Friday, and the committee will try to ascertain the truth," he said.
    Regarding the scandal of falsification of evidence, Prof. Ahn Kyu-ri, a Catholic researcher who collaborated with Hwang at Seoul National University, made her position public through a email to PBC. She expressed her deep regret for the scandal especially for patients suffering from incurable diseases who have now been disillusioned. "I have realized the reality that life is the most important thing, and that the truth will shine only when hope and love are together. I believed stem cells existed but now I am not convinced. Now I want to return to the patients and not to make Cardinal Kim shed any more tears”. http://www.asianews.it/view.php?l=en&art=5016
    Hmmm, You never know!
    "a Catholic researcher who collaborated with Hwang at Seoul National University" kinda odd wouldn't you think
    Last edited by bigbob; 01-02-2006 at 08:20 PM.
    Don't ignore the Reeve Legacy, Remember he and Dana supported open research and fought hard for ESCR

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  10. #10
    Banned Faye's Avatar
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    U.S. News & World Report

    Reflections on South Korea's stem cell scandal
    Posted 1/3/06
    By Helen Fields

    So what happens now?
    The strength of peer-reviewed research is that it's published in a public fashion for anybody to see, the methods and results are there for everyone. Then it can, in other people's hands, be repeated. Or not. It's really important to know that labs across the world are trying to repeat his scientific results. And if they can't repeat the results, it will send a clear message about whether Hwang was honest or not. There's also a chance that they can't repeat the results and he was honest about them. Cell culture is tricky stuff, and sometimes stuff that works in one person's hands won't work in another person's hands....

    It's strange to think the South Korean group was going ahead with plans to distribute stem cells around the world through the World Stem Cell Hub while they must have known their data were no good—they may not really have been able to do what they claimed to be able to do.
    It's stunning to me, too. I met with them earlier this year. It was incredible to see this group of scientists. They'd gotten off the plane from South Korea, and Dr. Hwang is quite simply a rock star. I sat with him and his group in the lobby of San Francisco International Airport, and regular South Koreans would come off the gangplank from the jet—within 20 minutes, we were surrounded by people who wanted his autograph, who wanted to see him. Then to realize all of this was built on a house of cards, if that's the case—it's a pretty sobering thing, to deceive so publicly.

    The South Korean government has strongly supported Hwang's research, but the U.S. government is not allowed to fund most embryonic stem cell research. What's the future of such research here?
    I'm not a pessimist by nature, but it's very hard for me to see how the current political environment can change in a way that can permit embryonic stem cell research in the United States. It's not just the last five years of George Bush's policy—there's a long history of United States policy that has prohibited reproductive research on embryos. Congress, for example, has prohibited research on early embryos since the 1970s.
    A lot of the groundbreaking research is coming from laboratories outside the United States.

    Even though the South Korean thing is quite a mess right now, that's only one lab out of dozens and dozens of labs in different countries that are working on embryonic stem cell research. Singapore is a very fertile area for this. Israel, England—the U.K. in general is moving along very quickly. Northern Europe—Sweden, Norway—they're doing some pretty amazing things. I think the world is going to step up and fill in the gaps. The sad thing is that no one can drive a biomedical research agenda like the United States.
    http://www.usnews.com/usnews/health/...03/3book_2.htm

    "There’s far too much unthinking respect given to authority,” Molly Ivins explained; “What you need is sustained outrage.”
    Kerr, Keirstead, McDonald, Stice and Jun Yan courageously work on ESCR to Cure SCI.

    Divisiveness comes from not following Christopher Reeve's ESCR lead.
    Young does ASCR.
    [I]I do not tear down CRPA, I ONLY make peopl

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