Investigation Committee, Seoul National University
In response to a worldwide controversy about the scientific work of Professor Hwang Woo-Suk, on December 15, 2005, the Investigation Panel began examining Professor Hwang's research publications, including his paper published in Science this year.
Today's report is a summary of facts that the Investigation Committee has newly uncovered regarding Professor Hwang's Science paper. In the Science paper, Professor Hwang claimed to have created 11 lines of patient-specific human embryonic stem cells.
1. Number of Stem-Cell Lines
The Panel has discovered that, although Professor Hwang claimed to have created 11 lines of stem cells, there were only 2 lines (lines 2 and 3) extant at the time he submitted the paper to Science. This leaves 9 lines unaccounted for. 4 lines are said to have perished due to contamination on January 9, 2005. 3 lines were apparently observed in"colony cell" form on March 9, but at the time of submission were not confirmed as stem cells.
There are no extant records of the remaining 2 cell lines. This leads to the conclusion that the experimental data submitted to Science in support of 11 stem cell lines (DNA fingerprinting, microscopic photos, confirmation of teratomas) were all derived from 2 cell lines. The Investigation Panel has submitted samples of cell lines 2 and 3 for DNA testing in order to determine their authenticity. The results will be forthcoming soon.
2. DNA Fingerprinting
Professor Hwang's 2005 Science paper claimed to have verified its claims by DNA fingerprinting the stem cell lines and the patient's somatic cells. However, the Panel has discovered that the only stem cell lines submitted for DNA fingerprinting were cell lines 2 and 3. In the case of the remaining 9 stem cell lines, only somatic cells were submitted for cross-checking.
3. Teratoma Formation
The 2005 Science paper initially reported teratoma formation in 7 stem cell lines and later revised this number to 3. However, teratoma formation was confined to stem cell lines 2 and 3. From the above facts, the Investigation Panel finds that the claims published in the 2005 Science paper were based on a deliberate manipulation of research results. In this regard, Professor Hwang's Science paper violates the ethics of scientific research and scholarship.
The Investigation Panel will soon issue a report on the DNA fingerprint results of the patient-specific stem cell lines claimed to have been developed by Professor Hwang. The Panel is also conducting an investigation on Professor Hwang's 2004 Science paper on the cloning of human embryos and Snuppy, claimed as the world's first cloned dog. All efforts are being made to expedite and finalize the current investigation.
SNU NOW / Newsroom