[EDITORIALS]True research must go on

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[EDITORIALS]True research must go on

The controversy surrounding Hwang Woo-suk’s stem cell research came to an all too real and wretched end. Dr. Hwang’s research paper this year was a fabrication and we are in a situation where we have to question whether he has the ability to produce the results he claims. Kim Seon-jong, one of the members of Dr. Hwang’s research team has arrived in Seoul from the United States to participate in the prosecutors’ investigation on whether Dr. Hwang’s stem cells were switched with others, but not much new is expected to come from that investigation. Even if the existence of the stem cells is proven, Dr. Hwang’s credibility as a scientist has suffered irrecoverable damage.
The investigation into the stem cell research, which is in its concluding stage, must be completed without leaving any doubts. Billions of won were spent on Dr. Hwang’s research since 1998 and those who participated in the fabrication of the research paper should all be strictly disciplined. Learning a lesson from this incident, we must also prevent the recurrence of such an absurd incident. We must set a firm ethical code for researchers and a new system to verify the authenticity of research papers.
All that’s left for us is to leave behind the despair and devastation we felt. The fall of the legend of Dr. Hwang left a strong impact throughout society. However, it is time to look for new hope and start anew. We have experienced far worse troubles, such as the collapse of the Seongsu Bridge and the Sampoong Department Store, not to mention the financial crisis of the late 1990s. We overcame our difficulties and came out standing tall. We must deal bravely with the aftermath and start anew, if we are to regain our fallen credibility in international society.
Now the government and the science academic circle must step up to put the situation in order. Paradoxically speaking, this incident showed the keenness of our interest in bioengineering and the world-class level of our biotechnology. While we are being held back, rival countries such as the United States and Britain are redoubling their efforts in stem cell research. Therefore, while we should thoroughly investigate the wrongdoings of Dr. Hwang’s research team, we should also give credit if and when its originality and technological advances are proven and make sure those technologies succeed and are developed.
The most important thing is that further research results based on truth pour out. That is the shortcut for our bioengineering science to overcome this adversity and step forward once again onto the world stage.
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