Researchers exchanged e-mails in past weeks
Prosecutors have found evidence that Hanyang University Professor Yoon Hyun-soo and University of Pittsburgh researchers Park Jong-hyuk and Kim Sun-jong exchanged numerous e-mails during the past few weeks.
“We are investigating suspicions that the three attempted to coordinate their testimonies since at the time Seoul National University’s investigative panel was conducting its own investigations,” a member of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors special investigative team said yesterday.
Prosecutors said that Mr. Park ― who was in the United States at the time ― exchanged e-mails with Dr. Yoon, some of which had the subject, “Professor, call me right away.” Mr. Kim also sent Dr. Yoon an e-mail titled “Defense,” with the particulars of his testimony to the SNU panel.
The special investigative team also received statements of analysis from the Supreme Prosecutors Office, which recently raided the National Institute of Science and Technology ― the organization that performed DNA fingerprint tests on the stem cells. The Supreme Prosecutors Office has been analyzing research material related to the case since October last year. According to the investigative team, the supreme prosecutors said the three people involved with the DNA fingerprint tests were the key to finding those responsible for the research fraud. Supreme prosecutors also told the investigative team that Mr. Kim initiated the manipulation of the 2005 article and they suspected that Dr. Hwang was deceived into thinking that stem cell lines two and three truly existed.
Meanwhile, prosecutors yesterday summoned two Seoul National University researchers and five from MizMedi Hospital who were co-authors of the 2004 and 2005 articles now retracted by the U.S. journal Science.
The Board of Audit and Inspection also dispatched officials to Seoul National University and the Science Ministry to investigate how Hwang Woo-suk’s lab used state research funds.
by Moon Byung-joo, Wohn Dong-hee