Richard G. Petty, MD

More on Scientific Misconduct

Today there have been reports from Reuters and the BBC that South Korean prosecutors have started questioning the disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk. The reason for their interest is that his fraudulent research was largely funded by public money. Thus he could be accused of misusing government funds.

The shock waves from this sordid scandal are still spreading.

A report  has just been published by a panel at the University of Pittsburgh that has cleared Gerald Schatten, director of its department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences, of any scientific misconduct in his collaboration with Hwang Woo-suk. However, the University panel decided that although he was not involved in the falsification of data, he should have taken greater steps to ensure that the data were correct. The panel decided that Dr. Schatten was guilty not of research misconduct, but of “research misbehavior.”

Five years ago a former colleague of mine who has had a distinguished scientific career, became mired in scandal. Not because of something that he had done wrong, but because of something that he failed to do right, some ten years earlier. A young researcher in his department was cooking up research data, and even when the first suspicions were brought to his attention, for some reason he failed to check it out.

It is the responsibility of everyone involved in a research project to ensure that everything is correct. After that is the responsibility of reviewers to re-check everything. We owe that to patients, their families, and the public who pays for this research.

I just hope that one day Dr. Hwang will tell everyone why he felt that it was okay to betray the trust of millions of people around the world.

Addendum:  It is a little late, but I recently found a interesting podcast done on Feb 8, 2006 by the good people over at Scientific American that discusses the Stem Cell/Korean debacle.  I’m linking it here in case you want to have a listen. 

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About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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