Extra! Korea

May 15, 2009

This Week in Korean Research

Filed under: science — extrakorea @ 11:43 am

I saw two articles today in the Korea Times about Korean research. In an interesting juxtaposition, one may represent Korean science’s future, and the other, its past. The first one holds out hope for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

In a study published by peer-review journal, Phytotherapy Research, Daegu Catholic University researcher Lee Jong-won and Daegu Haany University’s Jang Jung-hee claimed that water extract of wheat could possibly be used to develop treatments and prevent Alzheimer’s, as it suppresses the role of beta amyloid in the brain. Beta amyloid is a protein that is considered the building block of Alzheimer’s.

The second one is about the disgraced Hwang Woo-suk. He’s claims to have cloned pig stem cells.

Unfortunately for Korean research and science, the Dr. Hwang debacle is a cloud that still hangs over it, and is likely to continue to do so for some time. Science is less forgiving of fraud than other fields. Scientists build upon each other’s work, so if somebody makes fraudulent claims of success, it hurts a lot of other people, far and wide.

2 Comments »

  1. “Science is less forgiving of fraud than other fields”

    So true. Primarily because fraud undermines the true purpose of what science is all about, and that is to know the truth.

    Comment by arvinsign — May 15, 2009 @ 12:39 pm

  2. It’s actually a good thing if the specter of Hwang looms large over Korean academia. But I think Western academia tends to look at Hwang’s problems as Hwang’s problems and not Korea’s, because the fact is that there are loads of scandals (though usually not this big) in Western academia.

    Schatten himself (Hwang’s partner) was involved in a huge one prior to his involvement with Hwang. It was a famous case that involved my undergraduate alma mater UCI and for which the local newspaper, the Orange County Register won a Pulitzer Prize.

    When universities and professors have a serious financial stake in getting results in their research, there is abuse of the system. Not a lot, because there’s an intensive system of checks and balances, but it’s there. In that context, Hwang was December 2005’s flavor of the month. If you bring him up in a university environment (to academics), his name is not a household word, but he is a case of, “Oh, yeah! I remember that!”

    Comment by kushibo — May 15, 2009 @ 7:49 pm


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