Disgraced Korean scientist plans to clone mammoth

Mar 14, 2012

Hwang Woo-Suk, once accused of fakery, aims to recreate woolly mammoth with elephant's help


AN INFAMOUS South Korean scientist who was fired from his professorship and convicted of embezzlement over claims he successfully cloned a human embryo has embarked on a research project to recreate the woolly mammoth.
Hwang Woo-Suk signed a deal with Russian scientists yesterday to carry out research into cloning the extinct animal that last walked the earth around 10,000 years ago.
Hwang Woo-suk was hailed as a national hero in 2004 for his apparently pioneering work with human embryos. But allegations that he had partially fabricated the results of his research and used unacceptable practices to acquire eggs from human donors shook his status as one of South Korea's top scientists.
According to the BBC, he admitted that female researchers in his own lab had supplied eggs for his research and two key scientific papers, both published in Science Magazine, were found to have been fabricated. However, a claim that he had successfully cloned a dog called Snuppy in 2005 was not called into doubt.
He was fired from his professorship at Seoul National University in 2006 and in October 2009 was found guilty of embezzling $700,000 of government research funds and illegally purchasing human eggs, for which he received a two-year suspended jail sentence.
Last year he was evacuated from Libya amid the country's increasing violence and it emerged that he had been in talks with the Libyan government about building a stem cell research centre near Tripoli.
Now he appears to be back in South Korea and eager to rebuild his reputation. Russia's Federal University of the Sakha Republic has agreed to send him the remains of a woolly mammoth, which was found after global warming thawed Siberia's permafrost.
Hwang and other scientists at the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation plan to replace the nuclei of egg cells from an elephant with cells taken from the mammoth to produce embryos with mammoth DNA. This could then be planted into elephant wombs for delivery.

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