Seoul National University’s Veterinary College ordered 43 graduate students who had been working in the stem cell cloner Hwang Woo-suk’s laboratory to change their academic advisors yesterday, marking the beginning of the school’s dismantlement of Dr. Hwang’s research lab.
The 27 doctorate degree students and 16 masters degree students who had been part of Dr. Hwang’s cloning team under Dr. Hwang and Professors Lee Byung-cheon and Kang Sung-keun will now have to find other professors to advise them on their theses.
“We gave the order because the three professors were stripped of their posts and are no longer allowed to teach or conduct research,” a school official said.
Also yesterday, the Korean Society for Molecular and Cellular Biology announced that it had expelled Dr. Hwang and Hanyang University Professor Yoon Hyun-soo from its membership, citing the data fabrication of stem cell-related papers as the reason. The academic group added that it will decide whether or not to dismiss other co-authors of the same paper ― Seoul National University Professors Moon Shin-yong, Curie Ahn, and Sunchon National University Professor Park Ky-young ― after prosecutors finish their investigation.
“An investigation of our own ethics board showed that Dr. Hwang and Dr. Yoon committed fraudulent research. A board meeting was held in which it was decided they should be dismissed,” said Kim Young-min, chairman of the group.
Separately, in an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo, Seoul National University President Chung Un-chan said the school will create an ethics committee to investigate research by professors and researchers to see whether they have fabricated their data or plagiarized others’ research.
“The committee will investigate research fraud cases. There must be voluntary reports from researchers participating in projects for unethical acts to be caught earlier. This is why a system that protects whistleblowers is absolutely necessary,” Mr. Chung said.
by Cheon In-seong, Wohn Dong-hee