Seoul, South Korea (LifeNews.com) — The South Korean scientist who brought international embarrassment to the field of embryonic stem cell research due to his fraudulent studies, was convicted today of embezzlement and illegally obtaining human eggs from his female subordinates. Supporters of Hwang, who was, at one time, a national hero because of his work, cheered as he was given a two-year suspended sentence instead of the four years in prison demanded by government prosecutors. He was also acquitted of one of the charges against him – fraudulently raising funds from private organizations. Hwang’s lies were an international scientific scandal and a particular source of embarrassment to Science, the world renowned journal which published his fraudulent findings. In 2004 the magazine published a paper by Hwang and fellow scientists at Seoul National University, in which they claimed that they had created the world’s first cloned human embryos, and extracted from them embryonic stem cells. A second paper announced that Hwang’s team created lines of stem cells genetically matched to particular patients — overcoming the immune system rejection issues that continue to plague embryonic stem cell research. Both claims, and virtually all of the information in the papers, were false. The judges found today that Hwang had misappropriated 830 million won ($600,000+) of research funds, but ruled that this had not been for his personal enrichment. He was acquitted of fraudulently obtained private donations worth another 2 billion won. Since his disgrace, Hwang, who first qualified as a veterinary scientist, has been stripped of his right to carry out stem cell research, and has focused on researching dog cloning at a private research center. To date, embryonic stem cell research and human cloning have yet to cure a single patient while the use of more ethical adult stem cells have helped patients with more than 100 diseases and conditions.
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