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Hwang honored as 'supreme scientist'
July 8, 2005
Seoul National University professor Hwang Woo-suk has been awarded South Korea's first "supreme scientist" title thanks to his stem cell research.
The Ministry of Science and Technology said on June 24 that its 10-member screening committee unanimously selected Hwang among five candidates for the honor. "Hwang will receive a maximum of 3 billion won ($2.96 million) from the government annually over the next five years," ministry official Lee Dong-won said.
Lee added that Hwang will be given 1 billion won this year since the embryologist already received 2 billion won from the ministry for his therapeutic cloning research.
Included in the nominees were Shin Hee-sup, a researcher at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology; Seoul National University professors Kim Jihn-eui and Noh Tae-won; and Kim Ki-moon, a scientist at Pohang University of Science and Technology.
Even before the screening committee gathered Friday, Hwang was widely believed to become the first beneficiary of the supreme scientist prize based on his breakthrough achievements in stem cell research.
Hwang gained international recognition in 2003 by cloning a human embryo and extracted a stem cell line from it for the first time in the world.
The 52-year-old stunned the world again last month by isolating 11 batches of patient-specific stem cells, which are expected to cure a number of compounding diseases, such as diabetes and cancers, without causing immune responses.
Hwang is currently working on growing specific organs or cells from the stem cell lines, which is fundamental to applying the studies into actual treatment.
To support his research, the Korean government earmarked a total of 26.5 billion won this year, up from 6.5 billion won last year.