Sunday, October 03, 2004

Korea Planning to Nurture 10 Nobel Prize Candidates

Here is a copy of a report publishined online at Korea Times in October 2004:

South Korea plans to shell out big bucks to foster a number of candidates capable of garnering the prestigious Nobel Prize, according to a senior official in Chong Wa Dae Sunday.

Park Ky-young, presidential adviser for science and technology, reported the grandiose scheme to president Roh Moo-hyun in August and it will be fully operational next year.

Under the plan, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) will handpick around 10 promising scientists, who grab international attention with epoch-making expertise or research, and financially support their studies.

The MOST looks to provide at least several million dollars to scientists who have the potential to bring in the nation's first bona fide Nobel Prize.

"We want to support basic scientists who retain global competitiveness rather than spending money on applied scientists," Park said.

Former president Kim Dae-jung snatched the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his diplomatic efforts to bring peace to the Korean peninsula, as well as in promoting democracy and human rights here.

But aside from Kim's award, the nation has yet to gain a Nobel Prize especially in the fields of science or medicine.

Seoul National University professor Hwang Woo-suk could be the first candidate for the plan.

The nation earmarked a total of 26.5 billion won to support his attention-grabbing biotechnological breakthroughs.

Hwang stole the show twice over the past year when he created mad cow disease-resistant calves last December and cloned the world's first human embryos earlier this year.

The bio-scientist also plans to take the wraps off his study on gnotobiotic (sterilized) pigs soon.

Together with the mad cow disease-resistant calves last December, Hwang developed six gnotobiotic miniature pigs, whose organs can be transplanted into humans.

The pigs all failed to survive more than two days at the time but with the development of technology, some pigs are currently older than six months according to an inside researcher.

He added Hwang's team gained about five gnotobiotic pigs this month alone and now holds more than 10 pigs.


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