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South Korean Cloning 'Expert' Resigns Amid Probe

South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-Suk resigned from his university on Friday after investigators from the school said his supposed landmark stem-cell research was fabricated.

South Korean Cloning 'Expert' Resigns Amid Probe

South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-Suk resigned from his university on Friday after investigators from the school said his supposed landmark stem-cell research was fabricated.

A nine-member panel from Seoul National University said Hwang had fabricated results of at least nine of 11 stem cell lines he claimed to have created in a May paper published in Science Journal.

"The data of the 2005 paper were not the result of simple mistakes but of an intentional fabrication," the committee said in a statement issued after a weeklong probe. "This is a serious wrongdoing that has damaged the foundation of science."

Hwang, once hailed as the country’s star scientist, acknowledged the fabrication and apologized for the “disappointment.”

"I sincerely apologize to the people for creating a shock and disappointment," Hwang told reporters as he was leaving his office at Seoul National University, considered the country's top institution of higher learning, according to the Associated Press. "With an apologetic heart ... I step down as professor.”

However, Hwang maintained that he had produced the technology to create patient-matched stem cells as he claimed earlier.

"I emphasize that patient-specific stem cells belong to South Korea and you are going to see this," said Hwang, a veterinarian.

The panel said DNA tests expected to be completed in a few days would confirm his claim that the remaining two stem-cell lines were actually successfully cloned from a patient.

Christian conservatives, who had already criticized Hwang and his cloning research as “morally reprehensible,” said the recent findings only add to the shame.

“Hwang’s actions have been discredited and his profession has cast doubt on other legitimate activities carried on by reputable scientists,” said Barrett I. Duke, Vice President for Research at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission.

“What is most disturbing is the encouragement his actions gave to those who continue to press for embryo-destructive research and human cloning,” he told The Christian Post on Friday. “I hope that in the future, scientists working in his field will be more careful about accepting claims of success and examine those claims more carefully before they promote them to the public.”

The pro-life community rejects embryonic stem-cell research as an immoral practice. In the process, scientists harvest stem-cells – what they believe are master cells that can develop into any organ – from embryos and later discards the remains.

Instead, they support other methods that preclude the use of embryos, such as adult stem-cell or cord-blood stem cell research.

“Thousands, possibly millions of people will one day benefit from the progress already being made from adult stem-cell and cord-blood research,” explained Duke. “I trust that future researches will focus on practices that bring life, rather than practices that prey on life.”

Meanwhile, professor Alan Trounson, a top stem-cell researcher at Australia's Monash University, said the scandal would likely discredit Hwang’s other works as well as the works of scientists linked to Hwang’s work, such as the claim to have cloned a dog.

"I think a lot of the community were very impressed with the cloning of a dog — and it was a delightful dog — but I actually don't think it is a cloned dog now," Trounson told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Last month, Hwang had resigned as head of the World Stem Cell Hub, an international project found in October to promote the controversial research, after admitting he used eggs from female workers at his lab in violation of ethics guidelines.

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