March 1, 2024


 The world’s leading scientific journal, Nature, has demanded a Korean government investigation of claims that its world-beating stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk obtained human eggs unethically. Earlier this year Hwang published an article in Science about the creation of the first human embryonic stem cell lines from research clones. A thorough investigation is nonetheless required, not just for the sake of scientific integrity in South Korea, but to help persuade sceptics worldwide that research on human embryonic stem cells is being done ethically," says Nature.

Hwang has been accused by his American research partner, Gerald Schatten, of the University of Pittsburgh, of obtaining eggs improperly and then covering up with persistent lies. The South Korean president’s science and technology adviser, Ky Young Park, has already promised an investigation. But Nature scoffs at her offer. A bioethics consultant and a co-author of Hwang’s paper, she told Nature that she had not previously considered the ethics of egg donation. "Stem-cell researchers will now find themselves on the defensive in proving that they are ready to stick to strict ethical codes," says Nature with alarm.

The World Stem Cell Hub, an international network of fertility clinics recently established by Hwang to create stem cell lines for research, is already unravelling. Pacific Fertility Centre, an IVF clinic in San Francisco, has announced that it will be pulling out.