David Cyranoski: Where is the Science Journalist Now?

The scientific community was left startled when South Korean researcher Dr. Hwang Woo-Suk announced that he and his team were successful in cloning a human embryonic stem cell in 2004. Furthermore, he passed a new milestone the following year after revealing his success in creating 11 human embryonic stem cells from 185 human eggs. That was when science journalist, David Cyranoski, got in touch with Dr. Hwang but soon realized that the researcher had broken several bioethical laws during the research. While the Netflix documentary ‘King of Clones’ chronicles how David’s article kickstarted the investigation into Dr. Hwang’s work and led to the latter’s arrest, let’s find out where David Cyranoski is at present, shall we?

David Cyranoski is Doing Research Work at Kyoto’s ASHBi Institute

Although Dr. Hwang Woo-Suk entered the limelight after claiming to clone a dairy cow in February 1999 successfully, people began hailing him as a pioneer of stem cell research when he revealed his success in creating a human embryonic stem cell in February 2004. At that time, David Cyranoski was working as the Asia-Pacific correspondent for the Science Journal, Nature, and he, like others, sought an interview with Dr. Hwang in order to discuss the breakthrough. However, when David began asking questions about the South Korean researcher’s method of obtaining the human eggs, Dr. Hwang provided incomplete answers and appeared to be hiding something.

Thus, David got in touch with several members of the research team until a female research assistant stepped forward and claimed she had volunteered to give her eggs for the experiment. However, further investigation proved that Dr. Hwang had asked every single female researcher under him to sign the consent forms, and although everyone signed without protest, none of them explicitly stated if they were comfortable with the process. Hence, with enough evidence to accuse Dr. Hwang of violating bioethical rules, David Cyranoski revealed it all in an article in May 2004.

In May 2005, about a year after the article, Dr. Hwang took his research forward when he formed eleven different 11 human embryonic stem cells from just 185 human eggs. However, in November of the same year, he revealed that David’s accusations were somewhat accurate, as most of the human eggs were sourced from his understudies or the black market. This led to a massive investigation into Dr. Hwang’s research, and the South Korean Researcher was handed a suspended 2-year prison sentence after being convicted of bioethical violations and embezzlement in 2009.

Meanwhile, David Cyranoski’s exposé earned him much fame, and the scientific community recognized him as the journalist who brought Dr. Hwang’s malpractices to the limelight. Interestingly, David worked as the Asia-Pacific correspondent for Nature Magazine up until 2021 before deciding to dip his toes in research. Hence, at present, he resides in Kyoto, Japan, where he works at Kyoto University’s ASHBi Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Biology. Moreover, while his present research revolves around the history of science and the impact the discipline has on society, David also writes occasionally for top-rung publications like The New York Times.

Read More: Dr. Hwang Woo-Suk: Where is the Stem Cell Researcher Now?