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Clone Expert Resigns Over Ethics

After two scientists in his lab donated their own eggs, South Korean stem-cell researcher apologizes and leaves his foundation.

November 24, 2005|From Associated Press

SEOUL — South Korean cloning pioneer Hwang Woo Suk publicly apologized today for ethics lapses and said he would resign as head of the World Stem Cell Foundation "to atone to the public."

Hwang admitted that two female scientists in his lab donated their own eggs for research.

"I am very sorry that I have to tell the public words that are too shameful and horrible," Hwang said, appearing downcast and solemn at a packed news conference.

The stem cell foundation, launched last month in Seoul and staffed by a number of international researchers, aims to be a center seeking treatments for incurable diseases and had announced plans to open cloning centers in San Francisco and London.

Hwang, a trained veterinarian, is considered a national hero in South Korea and has gained worldwide attention for his breakthroughs, including cloning the world's first human embryos and extracting stem cells from them. Earlier this year, he unveiled the world's first cloned dog.

"Ethics and science are the two wheels that drive the civilization of mankind," Hwang said. "Scientific research should be conducted within the boundaries of ethics, but in reality, there were some cases in which the ethics regulations backing science had not been in place."

Hwang said he would continue his research at Seoul National University.

Hwang's apology came after the Health Ministry said earlier today that an ethics investigation at the university found the two junior scientists gave their own eggs for research. However, the ministry decided that the donations weren't in violation of ethics guidelines because they were made voluntarily.

Hwang also had conducted his own internal investigation into the allegations, which have placed his groundbreaking work under a cloud of controversy and led U.S. researchers to withdraw collaboration with him.

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