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Feature Research ethics

Duplicate publication: a bitter dispute

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 05 April 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:717
  1. Jonathan Gornall, freelance journalist
  1. London
  1. Jgornall{at}

    Korea's scientific community is once again under scrutiny as a row erupts about the origins of a study published in a Korean and a US journal. JonathanGornall investigates

    A bitter dispute over the authorship of a twice published medical paper has pitted a 35 year old Korean doctor against one of the most powerful players in the country's struggle for biotech supremacy. The battle is threatening to disrupt Korea's efforts to recover scientific credibility in the wake of the recent scandal over Woo-Sok Hwang's stem cell research.1

    On one side is Jeong Hwan Kim, a Korean doctor now working in Singapore. On the other is Kwang Yul Cha, a fertility specialist with important medical business interests in Korea and the United States and an emerging front runner in the race to inherit the disgraced Hwang's crown as Korea's foremost stem cell research pioneer.

    Dr Kim claims a paper about premature ovarian failure that he originally published in the Korean Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in January 20042 was translated and republished in the American journal Fertility and Sterility under a different title and with different authors in December 2005.3

    What is indisputable is that Dr Kim's name was not present in the later version of the paper and that in his place as lead author was Dr Cha, his former employer and the head of CHA Health Systems, a “global healthcare enterprise” whose many interests include the CHA Stem Cell Institute, Pochon CHA University and College of Medicine, and seven hospitals and clinics in Korea and the CHA Fertility Centre, CHA Regenerative Medicine Institute, and Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Centre in Los Angeles.

    Now, as the dispute escalates into a series of allegations and counter allegations, the editor in chief of Fertility and Sterility has been accused …

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