June 23, 2006

Ethics panel set to probe stem cell research issues

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Photo by Anne Rayner

Ethics panel set to probe stem cell research issues

The fallout from the Korean stem cell research scandal will serve as instructional material for next week's ethics panel.

“Integrity in Stem Cell Research: Lessons from the Korean Scandal” is Friday, June 30 at noon in 208 Light Hall.

“This is the perfect case to teach students and fellows about integrity and ethics in research,” said Lida Anestidou, DVM, Ph.D., research instructor in the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society and one of the panelists.

“Nearly every aspect of research integrity education is involved: research with human subjects, collaboration, peer review, authorship, data fabrication … we hope it gives people food for thought.”

Joining Anestidou on the panel are Mark Magnuson, M.D., director of the Center for Stem Cell Biology, Esther Eisenberg, M.D., professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Elizabeth Heitman, Ph.D., from the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society.

The Korean scandal erupted in late 2005 when it became clear that the famous stem cell scientist Hwang Woo Suk of Seoul National University had fabricated data in two papers — since retracted — in Science. Hwang's group claimed to have cloned human embryos and isolated human embryonic stem cells from them.

Magnuson will discuss the fabricated data from the two papers, focusing on the breakdown of the peer review system.

Eisenberg will discuss irregularities in the egg procurement process and how junior scientists and research technicians were effectively coerced into donating their eggs.

Heitman will describe the collaborative aspects of the research and the increasing difficulties of conducting collaborative research across countries with different regulations and cultural norms.

Following the presentations, the audience will be invited to engage in discussion with the panelists.

The ethics panel discussion is sponsored by Steven Gabbe, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine, and Roger Chalkley, D.Phil., senior associate dean for Biomedical Research, Education, and Training. Lunch will be available for the first 100 attendees.