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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 July 2006, 07:48 GMT 08:48 UK
Hwang accepts faked clone blame
Dr Hwang Woo-suk arriving at court on 20 June 2006
Dr Hwang was seen as a national hero
The South Korean scientist accused of faking stem cell research has accepted in court that he had "broad responsibility" for the deception.

But Hwang Woo-suk, who is charged with fraud and embezzlement, repeated a claim that the fabrications were the work of junior researchers.

Dr Hwang, 53, is on trial after much-heralded research into human stem cells was found to be fake.

If convicted, he faces at least three years in prison.

Dr Hwang told the court about a 2005 paper published in the journal Science, in which his team claimed to have made stem cell lines from the skin cells of 11 different people.

A panel of experts at Seoul National University, where Dr Hwang used to work, has since dismissed the research as fake, and the paper has been retracted.

"I don't remember giving specific orders, but I admit I have overall responsibility," Dr Hwang said.

Fall from grace

Dr Hwang, formerly a professor at Seoul National University, had been viewed as a national hero for his apparently ground-breaking research on stem cells.

SCANDAL TIMELINE
Feb 2004 Hwang Woo-suk's team declare they have created 30 cloned human embryos and extracted stem cells
May 2005 Team says it has made stem cell lines from skin cells of 11 people
Nov 2005 Hwang apologises for using eggs from his own researchers
15 Dec 2005 A colleague claims stem cell research was faked
23 Dec 2005 Academic panel finds results of May 2005 research were fabricated
10 Jan 2006 Panel finds 2004 work was also faked
20 March 2006 Hwang sacked from SNU
12 May 2006 Charged with fraud and embezzlement

His findings appeared to bring researchers closer to the point where they could offer personalised cures, using tissue grown from embryonic stem cells to repair damaged organs or treat diseases like Alzheimer's.

But in December a panel at Seoul National University found that his research had been "intentionally fabricated". In May, prosecutors brought charges against him and his team.

He is accused of accepting donations worth 2bn won ($2.1m, 1.14m) on the basis of his research, and of embezzling a further 800m won ($831,000, 451,000) in research funds.

He is also alleged to have bought human eggs for his research work, which is a violation of South Korea's bio-ethics law.

He is being tried with five colleagues who are facing similar charges.


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