>New updates on the problems with the South Korean cloning and embryonic stem cell program: missing scientists and accusations of fraud in reporting results and publishing credits.
Forbes online reports that the veterinarian who headed the cloning project is in seclusion at a Buddhist temple.
Besides accusations that the oocytes were aquired in questionable circumstances (donation for pay, concerns with informed consent, and abuse of Ph.D. candidates), now there are questions about the actual results.
Nature has a piece today in drug discovery @ nature.com on the multiple scandals, including questions about the patent credit given to one researcher, who was not even one of the co-authors:
Young Mo Koo, a bioethicist at Korea’s University of Ulsan, says Hwang has not addressed enough questions about his involvement with the egg donors: There needs to be an investigation by an independent party.
For example, Hwang claims to have known nothing of the payments until a few days before his confession when Roh told him. Yet in April 2004 he told Nature that he had himself arranged many of the donors at the hospital concerned. Roh was awarded 40% of the patent resulting from the paper, on which he was not an author. He says he does not know why Hwang offered him so much but that it was not compensation for providing the eggs. I don’t need any rewards, he says. Hwang has not disclosed his expenditures or budget for the project, saying only that all funds came from private sources.
The extent to which a junior member of his laboratory might have felt pressure to donate is also under debate. The student spoken to by Nature last April showed no signs of having been coerced by Hwang. During a 28-minute interview, she proudly described how her patriotism and concern for those with spinal injuries had inspired her to donate. Nature was unable to contact the other researcher, who is since thought to have moved to the United States. But according to Roh, she felt obliged to donate after making mistakes early in the experiment that wasted eggs and set the team back by months. I think it’s a beautiful story, Roh told Nature, referring to both women’s donations.