The latest news from academia, regulators
research labs and other things of interest
Posted: March 15, 2008
South Korean professor to withdraw papers on anti-aging nanotechnology from science journals
(Nanowerk News) A South Korean biotechnology professor agreed to retract two papers on anti-aging technology published in international science journals after the institute discovered he fabricated data, officials said.
Kim Tae-kook, a professor at the state-run Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, acknowledged that he forged data for a paper on anti-aging technology that was published by the journal Science in 2005 and a follow-up report published by Nature Chemical Biology in 2006, Seo Yeon-soo, a member of the KAIST investigation team, said Friday.
Science issued a statement later in the day alerting its readers "that serious questions have been raised" about the validity of the findings in the published papers.
"We are working with the authors and KAIST to determine appropriate next steps," Editor-in-Chief Bruce Alberts and Editor Emeritus Donald Kennedy said in the statement.
KAIST has suspended Kim from teaching and conducting research at the institute, Seo said. The university was still investigating to determine whether to take further disciplinary measures, said KAIST spokesman Kim Chul-hwan.
It was not immediately clear if Kim would face criminal charges.
The news is the latest blow to South Korean academics after the country's most prominent scientist, Hwang Woo-suk, was found in 2005 to have used faked evidence in purported stem cell breakthroughs that had been internationally hailed. One of Hwang's papers also had been published in the journal Science.
In Kim's 2005 paper, he claimed to have discovered a technique he named "MAGIC" to use magnetic nano particles to find target proteins in human bodies, a step toward potentially developing anti-aging drugs.
The next year, Kim published a paper claiming he had found target proteins by using the nanotechnology and created two chemical substances that could slow aging.
On Thursday, the school announced Kim had admitted his 2005 paper was based on fabricated results.
Seo said the anti-aging substance Kim claimed to have created in his 2006 paper was one already developed by Harvard University and that Kim had disguised it as his own finding.
"The aforementioned facts alone were already serious enough to justify retraction of both papers from the distinguished journals for the benefits of the scientific community," the school said in a statement offering an apology.
Kim was not available to talk to the media, Seo said.