[EDITORIALS]A hint of our science futureGood news has arrived with the beginning of the new year, about three splendid achievements by Korean scientists in biotechnology, clearing clouds from our minds over the political scandals last year.
In its Jan. 4 edition, Science magazine carried two papers co-written by Korean scientists. One was about the completion of the mapping of the chimpanzee genome, the other covered the birth of cloned pigs whose organs had been bioengineered to ward off rejection when transplanted into humans.
Nature magazine this week carried a paper written by five Korean scientists and an American scientist that revealed that the delay in apoptosis, or suicide of damaged cells, is a factor in aging and cancer.
The simultaneous publication of three papers co-written by Korean scientists in these two publications is unprecedented.
We would like to give the Korean scientists a round of applause, because bioengineering is the core of the next generation industries, through which Korean scientists could pursue treatment for various diseases, thus contributing to the commonwealth of humanity, as well as creating resources for national wealth.
Korea needs to nurture medical researchers, who form the basis of bioengineering. Too many quality physicians are drawn to medical practices, especially to profitable cosmetic surgery. We should devise ways to resolve this lamentable situation, such as opening the door to medical schools to every undergraduate major, strengthening governmental supports so more physicians would dedicate themselves to research. We propose cuts in tuition, exemption from military services and the introduction of M.D./Ph.D programs.
Also, we need to resolve conflicts between biotechnology and ethics. Bioengineering involves ethical questions. Heated debates surrounding the approval of research on embryo cloning are raging. Whether cloning is approved or banned, we urgently need a national position. We need to present legal and ethical boundaries to researchers so they will not be distracted by other issues.