Friday, December 02, 2005

Korean Stem Cell Intrigue

Have you guys been following the Korean stem cell craziness? has had great coverage, and the latest twist is like something out of a movie.

The junior scientist who donated her eggs for the Korean Stem cell project is missing. It turns out her name is Park Eul-soon, and she knows key information about how the Koreans accomplished their breakthrough.

Ok, refresher on the backstory. A Korean team led by Hwang Woo-Suk had a series of breakthroughs involving stem cells from cloned embryos. But allegations of ethical misconduct surfaced, including the accusation that he got his eggs from a junior scientist, giving the appearance that she was pressured by her bosses. The accusations get credence when Gerald Schatten of Pittsburg suddenly backs out of a major collaborative project with Hwang, saying that he has evidence that charges of ethical violations are true. Hwang then admits wrongdoing and resigns as project head.

Now here's what makes these new twists really exciting. Park, the junior researcher, disappeared in Pittsburg, where she had been working some time with...Gerald Schatten. The conservative Korean newspaper Chosunilbo ("the Fox News of Korea" according to one commenter) is speculating that Park may defect to Schatten's camp taking her stem cell secrets with her. Meanwhile, other Korean news outlets are reporting accusations of research fraud--not just mistreatment of human subjects, but misrepresenting data--against Hwang. Are there any Korean stem cell secrets to reveal?

Big fun!

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