Give me six months and I’ll do it again, Hwang said
Sounding by turns defiant, remorseful and confident in his technological prowess, Hwang Woo-suk told a press conference yesterday that he had been deceived by his research partners and could indeed produce patient-specific stem cells if he were given six months to do so.
The discredited Korean genetic researcher blamed two members of his team, Park Jong-hyuk and Kim Sun-jong, for giving him fabricated data on DNA fingerprinting associated with stem cells cited in two papers published by the U.S. journal science in 2004 and 2005. Both have been retracted by the journal.
He said he accepted responsibility for not overseeing his team more closely, but that, he said, was as far as his responsibility went.
He said he had asked for an investigation by the prosecution of the two researchers, both on the staff of MizMedi Hospital, a fertility clinic in Seoul. The hospital provided Dr. Hwang with human egg cells and cultured the stem cells to make them multiply.
Dr. Hwang said he accepted the findings by a review panel at Seoul National University that he had acted unethically in collecting human egg cells for his research, but stopped short of saying he regretted having done so. He said he had indeed paid egg donors and solicited members of his staff to donate more.
He challenged the findings of the university¡¯s panel, which concluded in a report issued on Tuesday that he had produced no stem cell clones at all.
Noting the panel¡¯s conclusion that a rare cell division of an unfertilized egg cell was the source of one stem cell line cited in his 2004 paper, he said, ¡°It is technically difficult to understand that conclusion.¡±
Repeating his claim that his stem cells had been switched, he said that his team had world-class techniques for transplanting cell nuclei. He criticized the university panel for saying his team had no exclusive technology competitive internationally.
In an attempt to back his claims of technological prowess, Dr. Hwang cited two new achievements. He said that his team alone, without help from MizMedi researchers, had succeeded in cultivating a stem cell line by using an aseptic pig in which human genes were inserted. He said that achievement used a technique similar to that used in creating a cloned human stem cell line.
Finally, he said, his team had cloned a second but unidentified type of animal in addition to the cloned dog that the Seoul National University investigators had said was real. He gave no further details.
by Ser Myo-ja for JD