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Albany Med’s Dr. Glenn McGee Publishes Paper In ‘Science’ On Korean Stem Cell Scandal
   February 2, 2006


ALBANY, N.Y., February 2, 2006 When the world found out in recent weeks that the dramatic breakthroughs in stem cell research reported last April by scientist Hwang Woo-Suk and his colleagues in South Korea were largely fraudulent, many in the scientific world and elsewhere questioned how such fabricated data could ever be published. Last month, the prestigious journal Science, which originally published the findings, printed a retraction. Now, in the current issue of Science (Feb. 3), Glenn McGee, Ph.D., an ethicist and director of the Alden March Bioethics Institute at Albany Medical College, along with two co-authors, argues that to prevent falsified data from being published the research community needs to look at "broader, institutional factors" instead of just blaming the way research is evaluated and published.

In the article, titled "Trust in Science: Lessons from the Stem Cell Scandal," Dr. McGee and Stanford University ethicists David Magnus, Ph.D., and Mildred Cho, Ph.D., argue that positive mentors and a serious commitment to ethics education for young scientists are vital in a field where attempts at deception can be tempting. "What is needed is better articulation of the meaning of integrity and how to foster virtue in scientists. It is here that institutional structures in South Korea failed," they write.

They point out that intense pressure, plenty of funding, and an isolated laboratory with little scientific collaboration among workers were all factors in allowing the falsified research to get as far as it did. "The actions of individual researchers do not exist in a vacuum but are affected by institutional factors. In South Korea, there was awareness of the need for ethical guidelines for research, as evidenced by the recent passage of laws about stem cell research and human subjects. However, the science may have been moving much more quickly than the ethical standards could be absorbed," they write.

The bottom line, McGee and colleagues say, is that the scientific community needs to "do a better job of holding research institutions accountable for setting up systems and mentorship that will produce integrity in its scientists."

Albany Medical Center is northeastern New Yorks only academic health sciences center. It consists of Albany Medical College, Albany Medical Center Hospital; and the Albany Medical Center Foundation, Inc. Additional information about Albany Medical Center can be found at


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