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Panel To Investigate Scientist For Cloning Claims 117

Posted by Zonk
from the did-he-or-didn't-he dept.
collegetoad writes "A panel of scientists from the Seoul National University will investigate scientist Hwang Woo-suk on whether he committed fraud in claiming he had developed tailored embryonic stem cells. From the article: 'Hwang also said in a paper published in 2004 in the journal Nature, that he had cloned, for the first time, a human cell to provide a source of embryonic stem cells -- master cells that can provide a source of any type of tissue or cell in the body.'" We've reported on this previously.
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Panel To Investigate Scientist For Cloning Claims

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  • Sarbanes Oxley? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doomedsnowball (921841) <doomedsnowballs@yahoo.com> on Friday January 06, 2006 @02:20PM (#14410483)
    Is this the Enron of Biomed research? Do we need better accounting (of data and methods) like Sarbanes-Oxley? Just a thought.
  • Hopefully (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vertinox (846076) on Friday January 06, 2006 @02:20PM (#14410486)
    Hopefully the panel will go out and actually try to reproduce his results rather than having a political debate of whether not it is.

    His business ethics are questionable, but if there is some truth to this then they should be able to follow a scientific method in order to prove or disprove the falsification of the findings.
  • Re:Sarbanes Oxley? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drewzhrodague (606182) <drew@zhrTWAINodague.net minus author> on Friday January 06, 2006 @02:28PM (#14410566) Homepage Journal
    No. Science takes care of its own, in its own way. THis is what peer review is for. Watch! They will get to the bottom of the dispute, scientifically, and then we will see what is really there, and what is bogus. Someone's got a tagline, about having a stable society when someone guns-down a schoolyard, and the laws don't change. Same kinda thing here, laws shouldn't even be involved, as their methodology will tell all -- eventually.
  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Friday January 06, 2006 @02:30PM (#14410584) Homepage Journal
    A few weeks ago I posted a question on slashdot regarding scientists and ethics and was completely chewed out for it. It was NOT meant to be a troll, it was an honest question.

    I've had some time to rethink the question and instead of finding answers (via Google as well as talking to scientists via e-mail who read my initial question), I have more questions.

    I'm a free market guy -- I truly believe that everyone performs actions that help themselves first (and others, secondly, if they want to continue doing what they do). I believe we take jobs in order to pay our bills, and we do our jobs with the consideration of what will keep us employed, and what will give us bigger financial opportunities in the future. I believe that employers are the customers of employees, and that is how I judge employer-employee relations.

    Scientists are starting to scare me. Many scientists find funding through government or taxpayer-funded programs and grants. Are we dealing with the same quality of people who review and allow frivolous patents and lawsuits to be enforced? Will we start seeing more scientists under review for doing what we all do in our jobs -- try and find ways to increase our pay while keeping our work the same (or lower).

    In the past there was peer review, but when we involve public funds, I fear what I saw in my consulting business: many consultants bidding on public jobs in a "boat race" -- 5 or 6 state-licensed consultants allowing each other to win a bid in a round robin fashion. I don't do any state jobs because of the collusion I saw in my industries.

    When I decry public funding of science, I'm blasted because people say that the free market won't pay for certain research. Now I see a more evil side of it -- and I fear that we'll see more investigations like this if I'm right. What can we do to combat humanity's deep need for self preservation in a scientist having the same human drives, especially when it is funded straight out of our pocket involuntarily?
  • Legislatures? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by IAAP (937607) on Friday January 06, 2006 @02:34PM (#14410621)
    Are you saying that you want the Legislature to get involved? The most science illiterate group on the planet?! Or, President Bush? Mr. Global Warming isn't fact guy?
  • by Quadraginta (902985) on Friday January 06, 2006 @04:04PM (#14411387)
    First of all, peer review functions in many places besides vetting articles for publication. Indeed, it's much more important in reviewing grant applications and in how and whether your colleagues direct good students and post-docs your way, since while publications are nice, it's successfully attracting research money and recruiting good employees that really counts. This guy is getting that kind of peer review now -- and greatly to his harm. So indeed the system is functioning as designed.

    More importantly, if you're saying the system is busted because it must sometimes punish fraud after it's published, instead of preventing its publication entirely -- well, then perhaps something needs to be clarified about the nature of scientific publication. A scientific journal is not a textbook. Stuff published there is current research, not accepted wisdom. It's not meant to be archival quality, things that folks will stake a reputation on. It's meant to be the "bleeding edge" of knowledge, so to speak, the latest and (necessarily) shakiest bit of possible insight. Reasonable people expect much that is published in a journal to turn out to be wrong, or incomplete. They don't ordinarily expect it to be a fraud, but it does happen on occasion, and reasonable people keep that in the back of their minds, too.

    In fact, one of the main reasons for scientific publication is to present new ideas and data to the widest possible audience, so that people who don't know, fund, or work for the original researcher have a chance to consider the merits and drawbacks of the idea, test it, challenge it, and prove or disprove it. You might reasonably think of scientific publication as more or less a "debugging" step of a new scientific idea, the process by which you submit some newfangled notion to the rigours of a bunch of "beta testers" (other scientists) who will bang on the idea, make sure it's sound.

    You would not, I hope, conclude that because spectacular bugs are sometimes found in software at the "beta" stage this means that the authors were wrong to release it at all. Having a large community of interested expert users cooperate in beta testing your software -- think open-source software -- can speed up the process of producing quality products greatly. That's exactly how scientific publication works.
  • by posterlogo (943853) on Friday January 06, 2006 @04:46PM (#14411719)
    I'm a biologist working at a university currently as a postdoc. I don't work on stem cells directly, but have an interest in many topics in biomedical research. This situation went down exactly as it should have -- a fradulent scientist was methodically investigated and censured (officially and unofficially). Scientific fraud (and more often, inaccuracy) are generally fished out and prosecuted by the greater scientific community. There is a vested interest for all scientists to maintain the integrity of research in their labs as well as other labs -- much of biology research is interdependent and self-correcting. The main reason why this is elevated to "scandal" level is because of the topic -- stem cells. This man has done great harm to the stem cell field, which is struggling to gain acceptance in this increasingly anti-scientific culture. Some of the comments here have highlighted this alarming trend. It frightens me when people start claiming that scientists need more policing from the outside (re: dada21's post). Although external review is critical for government organization, science is a decentralized, distributed organism dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. As scientists we attempt to conduct our research and lead our lives, but we also strive to educate the general public (and indeed are excited when the public takes interest in our work). It's not "many" scientists that are publicly funded, it's MOST scientists. There are very valid reasons for that, and yet this year NIH has seen a cut in funding unheard of since the 70s. Please consider this next time you think about DNA testing, the quality of the food you eat, your health care, and something as simple as taking an aspirin. Please don't be deluled into thinking of science and scientists as scary. It attack on science is truly what is frightening.

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