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Disgraced S.Korean scientist stripped of title

SEOUL (Reuters) - The president of Seoul National University stripped a title from a disgraced researcher because of science fraud and called for six others to be punished who were part of the same cloning scandal, the school said on Friday.

Once heralded and now scorned, scientist Hwang Woo-suk lost his title as "chair-professor."

Hwang had already resigned his post at the university on December 23 when an investigation panel said in an interim report that he bore major responsibility for deliberately fabricated data in two landmark papers on embryonic stem cells.

Seoul National University President Chung Un-chan said the six other professors who were a part of Hwang's team should face punishment that could range from reprimands to dismissal from the university.

A Seoul National University investigation panel said in a report earlier this month that Hwang's team faked data in the papers on embryonic stem cells. The panel also said there was no evidence to support claims Hwang's team made in the 2004 and 2005 papers published in the U.S. periodical Science.

Hwang has said he is a victim of a conspiracy out to discredit him and blamed the fabricated data on junior researchers.

Prosecutors have launched a criminal probe into Hwang over his use of state funds. They are also investigating Hwang's conspiracy claim.

Prosecutors have questioned 38 people in their probe. They expect to question Hwang in late January or early February, local media reported, citing prosecution sources.

Hwang's research raised hopes among those suffering from ailments such as severe spinal cord injuries because it seemed to hasten the day when genetically specific tissue could be grown from embryonic stem cells to repair damaged bodies.

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