[EDITORIALS]Prove cloning is cleanDr. Gerald Schatten has reportedly decided to part with Professor Hwang Woo-suk after having participated in stem cell research with the professor.
One of the most prominent authority in stem cell research in the United States, Dr. Schatten has said that he had convincing information that Dr. he would no longer be able to work with him.
It is uncertain at the moment whether Dr. Hwang had actually done anything unethical or connected to the illegal obtainment of eggs, as Dr. Schatten claims he did.
No matter what the truth is, it is regrettable that a man as internationally celebrated as Dr. Hwang is involved in such a controversy. Patients suffering from incurable illnesses must in particular be greatly disappointed, having put their hope in Dr. Hwang.
In fact, it is not the first time that Dr. Hwang has found himself entangled in an ethical controversy.
Other ethics issue emerged when he announced the results of his research in extracting stem cells from a cloned embryo, results that took the world by surprise both this year and last.
The process of obtaining eggs has to be verifiably transparent and ethical. Concerned experts claim that without an ethical foundation, research is blind. However, the ethical concern failed to attract much attention, being overshadowed by Dr. Hwang’s glorious research achievements.
When the illegal trafficking of eggs recently emerged as an issue, some suggested that Dr. Hwang had obtained his eggs illegally. A researcher, whose paper was published in the periodical Science as a member of a patient-specified stem cell extraction project, mentioned the possibility of the illegal trafficking of eggs during a police investigation last May. Dr. Hwang has denied the allegation.
At any rate, continuing controversy does nothing to help stem cell research and development.
It is time for Dr. Hwang to step forward and prove that he has done nothing illegal or unethical. Working with life ethics experts to thoroughly investigate the case is one way he could clear his name.
He should also make sure that stem cell research is not hindered by ethical issues ever again. It is Dr. Hwang’s duty to live up to the expectations of those who have supported him.
Korea has to lead the world in stem cell research, not only in its achievements but also in its ethics.