What Was a Disgraced Korean Cloning Scientist Doing in Libya?

By Alexis C. Madrigal

Woo Suk Hwang is one of the more disgraced scientists of our times. First, he admitted to using his graduate students' eggs in an attempt to create a stem cell line from a human embryo. Then he admitted that he'd actually faked his research.

But for some reason, as Nature reports, some people in far-flung nations still wanted to work with him. It turns out that he'd been trying to get together a nine-figure biotech research facility in the country. Something's weird here, and we expect to hear more soon.

Now, in the latest twist of the Hwang tale, Korean media is reporting that Libya was trying to nail down a W153 billion (US$1=W1,127) collaboration with Hwang. According to the Korea Times, Hwang traveled to Libya on 10 February to discuss the collaboration.

According to Yonhap news, Hwang has traveled there some 10 times since 2004 and received a retainer of 600,000 euros for collaborating on stem cell research aimed at incurable diseases. The current deal was supposed to include a research center in Libya and the transfer of cloning-related technology from Hwang.

According to the Chosun Ilbo, Hyun Sang-hwan, who directs the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation founded by Hwang, Hwang was to sign a collaborative agreement with a company called DANA Bioscience and Medical Service recently established by Libya. The signing was reportedly canceled and the agreement thrown into jeopardy by the protests there. Reporters spotted Hwang at the Tripoli airport, one of 198 being evacuated by the Korean government.

No doubt this is not the end of the story.

Read the full story at Nature.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/03/what-was-a-disgraced-korean-cloning-scientist-doing-in-libya/71885/