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Phony cloning.

A scientist who wowed the world with breakthrough research is now making headlines for faking those experiments.

Woo Suk Hwang, a biologist at Seoul National University in South Korea, claimed that he had cloned (created an exact genetic copy) human stem cells (see SW, 5/10/04). Stem cells can become any of the body's cell types. Scientists think stem cells may someday help treat diseases, so Hwang's research caused a stir when it was published in two articles in the journal Science.

To avoid publishing phony research, scientific journals require experts to review all research papers before they are published, says Monica Bradford, executive editor of Science. The experts read the papers and review the data to make sure the scientists followed the scientific method, a step-by-step method of conducting experiments. Reviewers of Hwang's submissions didn't realize that his papers were based on phony data. Because it appeared that Hwang followed the scientific method, he passed this review process.

Cheaters usually get caught when other scientists try to repeat the experiments, says George Daley, a stem-cell scientist at Harvard Medical School. Before that could happen, someone in Hwang's lab blew the whistle.

The hoax was a letdown for stem-cell scientists, but they're not giving up: "There's a new race on to do what Hwang claimed to have done," says Daley. Adams
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Author:Adams, Jacqueline
Publication:Science World
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:9SOUT
Date:Apr 17, 2006
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