Just three years after the groundbreaking stem cell research of Hwang Woo Suk was found to be based on fabricated data, another Korean scientist’s research is in question. KAIST (the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) announced last Friday that researcher Kim Tae Kook has been suspended for fabricating data in two breakthrough studies published in the renowned journals Science and Nature Chemical Biology.

The papers in question are “A magnetic nanoprobe technology for detecting molecular interactions in live cells” published in Science in July, 2005 and “Small Molecule-Based Reversible Reprogramming of Cellular Lifespan” which appeared in Nature Chemical Biology in July, 2006.

The 2005 study describes an innovative technique named MAGIC, short for magnetic-based interaction capture, that can be used in living cells to determine which cellular molecules interact with drugs. In the 2006 study, Kim and colleagues describe how the MAGIC technology was used to identify a small molecule capable of reversing cellular senescence.

Both studies garnered Kim much public attention due to the potential medical application of his research. KAIST’s president Suh Nam Pyo even suggested that he was the most likely Korean scientist to win the Nobel Prize.

The problems with the data were identified by one of Kim’s doctoral students who was unable to replicate the results of the studies after repeating the experiments numerous times.

The chief of the biological sciences department at KAIST has informed both Science and Nature Chemical Biology about the false data in Kim’s studies. Science had to retract the two fraudulent papers by Hwang Woo Suk in 2006.

KAIST (the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology)

Written by – Carolyn Matthews
Freelance Journalist
Seoul, South Korea