Irving Weissman Finally Fakes His Way Through Hwang Scandal Interview

Dianne N. Irving
December 20, 2005
Reproduced with Permission

California's Irving Weissman has apparently finally broken his long silence about the Hwang cloning scandal. It is worth mentioning that Weissman is a close colleague of U.S. human cloner Gerald Schatten (Univ. of Pittsburgh), the senior author of Hwang's Science paper now being investigated. It is also interesting that Science is the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science which has basically adopted the erroneous stem cell "science" of the National Academy of Sciences. There Weissman recently chaired two major committees on human cloning and human embryonic stem cell research. The committees obviously adopted Weissman's fake "scientific" claims that "therapeutic cloning" is not cloning (just "stem cell research"), and that the immediate product of both fertilization and asexual human reproduction is just "cells" -- not a human organism, a human being.

This same fake "science" was used to pass two laws on human cloning and human embryonic stem cell research in the State of California, as well as the "scientific" basis for the California Report which in turn was used as the "scientific" basis for the celebrated "California Proposition 71". When Weissman's mentor, Nobelist Paul Berg, and others legally challenged the accurate human embryology being used by groups opposed to this research in California, a California judge found against Berg et al -- i.e., their "science" could not be documented or proven -- based in part on the courageous testimony of an internationally respected stem cell scientist who rejected their scientific fabrications. Most intellectually honest researchers have long acknowledged the accurate scientific facts that "therapeutic cloning" is cloning, and that the immediate product of "nuclear transfer" is a real living single-cell human embryo.

Further, the multiple "levels of regulation" Weissman notes in the article below include "IRB's" and "oversight committees" -- which are stacked with hardcore bioethicists with multiple conflicts of interests. These all follow the fake "science" of the federal OHRP (formerly OPRR) guidelines on the use of human subjects in research -- in which the early human embryo is not included as a "human subject" at all -- following the decades of decadent McCormick/Grobstein "pre-embryo" and its equally fake "pre-embryo substitutes". This is, as a matter of fact, the same fake "science" still used by many major prolife leaders. No wonder the silence, or half-hearted attempts to "respond" to this historical scientific crisis.

With all this (and more) already in place for years, it is understandable that the only "ethics" issues left to discuss are about "eggs", "hope and hype", and "regulation" -- from both sides of the aisles. Nothing about the half-dozen other major international research ethics violations clearly articulated in the Declaration of Helsinki and the Nuremberg Code. Nothing about faking scientific data. Nothing about injecting potentially millions of vulnerable human patients with dangerous "stem cells". Nothing about the massive killing of millions of innocent human beings at the beginning of their lives. No wonder such inexplicable silence and very selective "contras". The apples don't fall far from the tree.

For dozens of lengthy referenced articles documenting and proving the above comments, please see Irving Library, under "Cloning, Stem cells", at:

Genetic Engineering News
December 20, 2005

Stanford Q&A: Irving Weissman on the South Korea Stem Cell Controversy

Last June, scientists in South Korea announced that they had created 11 human embryonic stem cell lines using a novel, more efficient technique. This was big news considering that new stem cell lines will be needed for the field to move forward. In recent days, however, the American researcher involved in the work has asked to have his name removed from the paper, and the lead researcher in South Korea wants the paper withdrawn from the prestigious journal Science under allegations that the data had been faked. Irving Weissman, MD, director of the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, comments on the controversy and says it's too soon to judge how these events will affect the field.

Q. What do you think of the allegations that the South Korean data was faked?

Weissman: In America, we believe that people are innocent until proven guilty. As of today, the principal investigator, Hwang Woo-Suk, has not admitted to fabricating any data; in fact, accounts in the press have him denying those accusations. Hwang has a few colleagues who differ with him; however we should wait for the investigations to inform us of what really happened. Not only important science, but scientific careers are at stake. If Hwang is guilty, it is a sad ending to a promising and important area of science and medicine, and to his career. I hope he is found to be innocent.

Q. Some news reports and critics say that this new development puts the entire field of stem cell research under a cloud. Do you think the consequences are that far-reaching?

Weissman: As a scientist I think not, as we never extend findings in one paper to an entire field. But if you ask me whether this report will be used by opponents of stem cell research to condemn the field, I would say absolutely -- and they have already started. Several opponents previously have claimed that any adult stem cell could turn into any other tissue, and so neither embryonic stem cell research nor nuclear transfer stem cell research would be necessary. Although this notion has been thoroughly disproven by several independent groups, those advocates persist in their claims. While we can hope that such disinformation is not accepted by the public, I fear that these claims are now being viewed through the lenses of politics and of the media, and not on the basis of medical or scientific evidence.

I should point out that before any research finding should be considered solid, several practical barriers must be surmounted. First, the finding should be published in a peer-reviewed journal (the Hwang paper was). Second, several independent laboratories must publish in peer-reviewed journals that the experiments and the findings are reproducible. So far that has not occurred for the Hwang findings. Third, the scientific principle revealed by the findings must be strong enough to be validated, or proven false, by virtually all kinds of experiments. The Hwang research had only passed the first benchmark and was therefore not yet considered proven by the scientific community.

Q. Does this have any effect on Stanford's efforts to create new stem cell lines?

Weissman: No. We do not have scientists at Stanford with the expertise to produce human stem cell lines using nuclear transfer methods, such as those used by Hwang's group. So this sad set of events doesn't affect us for now. However, we hope to recruit scientists who will in the future find ways to do this research, first in animal models and then with human cells, using the safest and most effective methods.

Q. You and other scientists have tried to assure the public that stem cell research will be conducted in an ethical, responsible manner. How can the public trust be maintained?

Weissman: When we decided to move forward with the Stanford Program in Regenerative Medicine, we appointed several guidance groups. First, an ethics group will examine each scientific experiment that might use human tissues for stem cell research to guarantee that the ethical issues have been approached appropriately. Second, a research group will assure that any human stem cell research at Stanford is scientifically sound. Third, we already have in place an Institutional Review Board, independent of the above two entities, that reviews all requests to do experiments with human tissues or trials with human participants. Finally, in accordance with guidelines proposed by the National Academy of Sciences last April, Stanford established a committee as another protective layer to oversee all proposed human embryonic stem cell research. These four levels of oversight should assure the public that we are carrying out stem cell research ethically and responsibly.

Q. One of the components of the South Korea scandal is how egg donors were recruited. What safeguards do we have in place to prevent a similar problem from happening at Stanford?

Weissman: The ethics committee of the Program in Regenerative Medicine is drafting guidelines for egg donation. The Stanford Institutional Review Board would oversee any proposed method of obtaining eggs and ensure that patient safety is guaranteed. Stanford's stem cell review committee also would have to independently approve any proposed research. We do not allow egg donors to be employees or scientists connected to the project.

If the Korean studies could be repeated, researchers would need only on average 17 eggs to produce a new stem cell line. With those results in doubt, we don't know how many eggs will be needed. Here at Stanford we have some of the leading reproductive scientists looking for other sources of eggs, for example as a byproduct of surgery that necessarily removes ovaries, or by attempting to repeat work that has successfully produced embryonic stem cells in mice without needing new eggs.

Stanford University Medical Center integrates research, medical education and patient care at its three institutions -- Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. For more information, please visit the Web site of the medical center's Office of Communication & Public Affairs at


Stanford University Medical Center Amy Adams, 650-723-3900