March 06, 2006

At Last Hwang Woo-Suk Joins the Ranks of Terri Schiavo

It takes a lot to get the current House of Representatives to talk about ethics. Look how hard it was to focus them on DeLay. Terri Schiavo brought things into sharp relief for the House, though, and now Hwang Woo-Suk and perhaps his American partner Gerald Schatten will join the ranks of House Symbols of The Death of Modern Morality:
A U.S. House subcommittee will hold a hearing next week to consider issues raised by fraudulent stem cell research led by South Korean researcher Hwang Woo-suk.

At Tuesday's hearing in Washington, the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources also plans to ask about federal grants awarded to Dr. Hwang's former collaborator, University of Pittsburgh researcher Gerald Schatten. "We're going to be asking our federal witnesses about the grants he's received and the scrutiny such grants received," said Michelle Gress, the subcommittee's counsel.

Neither Dr. Schatten nor anyone else from Pitt was asked to testify at the one-day hearing, Ms. Gress noted. But if problems are uncovered in the awarding of grants for stem cell research, he could be called to testify at future hearings, she said.

Dr. David Magnus, director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, questioned the need for the subcommittee hearing. It gives opponents of stem cell researchers "the opportunity to tar them with the brush of South Korea," he said.

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