If South Korean cloning hero Hwang Woo-suk falls from grace in what could turn out to be one of the biggest scientific frauds in years, he might take U.S. stem cell researcher Gerald Schatten with him.
In May, Schatten had the honor of serving as "senior author" on Hwang's groundbreaking cloning report. That has now turned into a curse for the University of Pittsburgh researcher, whose questionable involvement with Hwang is not his first brush with scientific controversy.
At the very least, Schatten faces a formal reprimand once an internal school investigation is concluded.
"I will consider what disciplinary actions are appropriate in this case pending the findings," said Dr. Arthur Levine, dean of the medical school and Schatten's boss.
Schatten, 56, and another collaborator on the cloning paper, Roh Sung-il, have accused Hwang of fabricating key evidence in a landmark scientific article this year describing how South Korean researchers used DNA from sick patients to clone 11 human embryos and extract tailor-made &to=http://english.pravda.ru/science/19/94/377/15126_treatment.html' target=_blank>stem cells.
Hwang defended his research Friday, but still said he will ask the journal Science to withdraw the report due to "fatal errors and loopholes in reporting the scientific accomplishment."
Schatten has declined to comment on the growing scandal, referring numerous e-mail and telephone inquiries to the school's public relations department.
Scientists say that as "senior author" on the paper, it was his responsibility to catch the many errors Hwang has admitted.