Scientist Hwang Woo Suk Falls Back to Earth


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It's quite a sight to see a man rise to the very pinnacle of his vocation and then come falling back down to earth, disgraced, humbled and with his tail between his legs. Things would be infinitely worse if the arena where all this happened was one filled with back-biting and intrigue, such as the world of Science .

That's exactly what happened to Korean scientist Hwang Woo Suk. Once heralded as the foremost expert in the field of the vital stem cell research, Hwang took an oh-so-public fall from grace when some of his most important and ground-breaking work was proven to be nothing more than a fraud.

Hwang first rose to prominence in 1999 when he and his team of scientists announced in a span of a few months that they had successfully cloned three dairy cows and reported greater facility and improved technique in stem cell cloning each time. His announcements were met with great rejoicing each time as the Korean public glowed at the promise of “immeasurable economic prospects" in the future.

But the really big news for Hwang would come in February 2004 when he announced that his team had created an embryonic stem cell using the somatic cell nuclear transfer method. Stem cells are like all-purpose cells that are vital in the cloning process since they are compatible with all organs. Having this kind of technology meant that man had moved a step forward in human cloning technology, specially since this was previously believed to be impossible. Hwang's research was published in the prestigious Nature magazine and a new star in the world of science was born.

By May 2005, Hwang had even better news: his team had now successfully created 11 embryonic stem cells. It was impressive news and it indicated that Hwang had made tremendous strides in his research in a brief period of time.

Along the way, Hwang even unveiled one of his favorite creations, a cloned Afghan dog named Snuppy, and you could hear whispers about Hwang as possible being one of the greatest scientific minds of all time. Time magazine pronounced Snuppy as its “Invention of the Year" for 2005.

However, before the year was over drastic events would take place that would turn Hwang's world upside down. It was revealed that his work was a fraud. One of his team members even announced publicity that Hwang “admitted to fabrication. " Hwang promptly disappeared from the public eye and is reportedly ill at home. He is now facing trial for “embezzlement and bioethics law violations. "

Jonathon Hardcastle writes articles on many topics including Science , Computers , and Nutrition


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