, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 545-562

The Legacy of the Hwang Case: Research Misconduct in Biosciences

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Abstract

This paper focuses on the infamous case of Hwang Woo Suk, the South-Korean national hero and once celebrated pioneer of stem cell research. After briefly discussing the evolution of his publication and research scandal in Science, I will attempt to outline the main reactions that emerged within scientific and bioethical discourses on the problem of research misconduct in contemporary biosciences. What were the ethical lapses in his research? What kind of research misconduct has been identified? How this kind of misconduct affects scientific integrity? How to avoid it? Focusing on these questions, the paper interprets the Hwang’s case as a case study that might shed light on the worst aspects of highstakes global science. This case presents a group of problems that might endanger scientific integrity and public trust. Regulatory oversight, ethical requirements and institutional safeguards are often viewed by the scientific community as merely decelerating scientific progress and causing delays in the application of treatments. The Hwang’s case represents how unimpeded progress works in contemporary science. Thus, the case might shed light on the often neglected benefits of “the social control of science”.

Written and revised version of the lecture “Cloning, Stem-Cell Research and the Hwang Woo Suk Case” presented in the „Perfect Copy?—Cloning and Stem-Cell Research” Workshop organized by CELAB, Budapest, CEU at 2nd of March 2007.