South Korea's most famous scientist has become a national embarrassment after his university announced some of his findings had been faked.
VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Researcher Hwang Woo-suk apologized (Friday) and resigned from a South Korean university after the school announced that he had fabricated results of his groundbreaking research on stem cells.
"I sincerely apologize to the people for creating a shock and disappointment. With an apologetic heart, I step down as professor of Seoul National University."
Mr. Hwang's 2005 study had raised hopes of finding new cures for hard-to-treat diseases but a nine member university panel concluded the South Korean scientist had falsified data on at least nine of eleven stem cell lines he claimed to have created by cloning cells from specific patients.
Roe Jung-hye, Dean of research at Seoul National University accused the former veterinarian of damaging the scientific community.
"This data in the 2005 Science paper cannot be some error from a simple mistake, but can be seen as a deliberate fabrication."
Stem cells are primitive "master cells" which can develop into other types of human tissue.
The scientist's claims of creating patient-matched stem cells had been seen by scientists worldwide as a key step in creating replacement organs that would not be rejected because they had come from the patient's body. It also raised the possibility of new therapies for hard to treat diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson's.
The panel says it will conduct tests to determine if any of the stem cells were cloned from human patients.
The scandal has also cast doubt on the scientist's claims of cloning an Afghan hound named Snuppy.
"The additional stem cell lines created by Dr. Hwang will be analyzed through a DNA finger print process to have correct information of their existence. Also there will be another investigation to have answers for questions raised about the 2004 Science paper and Snuppy, the world's first cloned dog."
The revelations are a severe blow to Mr. Hwang and the South Korean government. The scientist was once considered a national hero and has received nearly 40 million dollars in funding from the South Korean government.
South Korea's minister of science says the government is considering pulling its funding, taking away Mr. Hwang's top scientist designation, and launching its own investigation.
Mil Arcega VOA News.