Stanford President Resigns After Report Finds Flaws in his Research

After months of intensive research into his scientific work, Marc Tessier-Lavigne announced On Wednesday he said he would resign as president of Stanford University after an independent review of his research found significant flaws in studies he had supervised over the decades.

ReviewThe most serious claim involving Dr. was refuted in a survey conducted by an outside panel of scientists. Tessier-Lavigne’s work – A landmark 2009 Alzheimer’s study was the subject of an investigation that found falsified data and a cover-up by Dr. Tessier-Lavigne.

The panel concluded that the claims “appear to be false” and there was no evidence of falsified data or that Dr. Tessier-Lavigne otherwise engaged in fraud.

But the review also said the 2009 study, conducted when he was an executive at the biotech company Genentech, had “numerous problems” and “fell below traditional standards of scientific rigor and procedure,” particularly For such a potentially important paper from.

As a result of the review, Dr. Tessier-Lavigne was expected to request substantial corrections to the 2009 paper published in Nature as well as another Nature study. He also said he would request the withdrawal of a paper published in the journal Cell in 1999 and two in Science in 2001.

Stanford is known for its leadership in scientific research, and even though the claims included previously published work from Dr. Upon Tessier-Lavigne’s arrival at the university in 2016, the allegations reflected poorly on the university’s integrity.

In a statement describing her reasons for resigning, Dr. Tessier-Lavigne said, “I hope that the report and its findings can have a discussion, at least in the near future, that will lead to the university’s success in the new academic year.” There can be debate about my ability to lead.”

Doctor. Tessier-Lavigne will leave the presidency at the end of August but will remain at the university as a permanent professor of biology. As president, he launched the climate-focused Doerr School of Sustainability, the university’s first new school in 70 years. A renowned neuroscientist, he has published over 220 papers, mainly on the causes and treatment of degenerative brain diseases.

The university appointed Richard Saylor, professor of European studies, as interim president, effective September. 1.

The Stanford panel’s 89-page report, based on more than 50 interviews and a review of more than 50,000 documents, concluded that Dr. Tessier-Lavigne’s laboratories engaged in improper manipulation of research data or inadequate scientific practices, resulting in the suspension of five papers. with Dr. Tessier-Lavigne as lead author.

In several cases, the panel found, Dr. Tessier-Lavigne took insufficient steps to correct the mistakes, and follow-up studies showed that her decision not to seek corrections to the 2009 paper was questioned given that its main Search was wrong.

The flaws pointed out by the panel covered a total of 12 papers, including seven Dr. Tessier-Lavigne was listed as a co-writer.

The allegations against Dr Tessier-Lavigne, 63, first surfaced several years ago on PubPeer, an online crowdsourcing site for the publication and discussion of scientific works.

But they resurfaced after the student newspaper, The Stanford Daily, published a series of articles questioning the work done in laboratories overseen by Dr. Tessier-Lavigne. In November, The Stanford Daily reported Claim The images in the published papers listing Dr. Tessier-Lavigne as either lead writer or co-writer.

In February, The Stanford Daily published more serious claims of fraud involving a 2009 paper that Dr. Tessier-Lavigne published while a senior scientist at Genentech. It said that Genentech’s investigation found that the study contained falsified data and that Dr. Tessier-Lavigne Tried to keep his findings hidden.

It also said that a postdoctoral researcher who worked on the study was caught by Genentech fudging data. Both Dr. Tessier-Lavigne and the former researcher, now a medical doctor practicing in Florida, strongly denied the claims, which relied heavily on unnamed sources.

The review panel said the Stanford Daily’s claim that “Genentech had conducted a fraud investigation and found fraud in the study” that “appears to be false.” The report noted that no such investigation had been conducted, but noted that the panel was unable to identify some of the unnamed sources cited in the story.

Kaushiki Naidu, editor-in-chief and president of The Stanford Daily, said in a statement Wednesday that the paper stood by its reporting.

In response to the newspaper’s initial report about the manipulated studies in November, Stanford’s board of trustees formed a special committee to review the claims, led by Carol Lamm, a Stanford trustee and former federal prosecutor. The special committee then appointed Mark Phillips, a former federal judge from Illinois, and his law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, to run the review.

In January, it was announced that Mr. Philip commissioned a five-member scientific panel—which included a Nobel laureate and a former Princeton president—to investigate the claims from a scientific perspective.

Dr. Genentech called the 2009 study a breakthrough. Tessier-Lavigne characterized the findings during a presentation There’s an entirely new and different way for Genentech investors to look at the Alzheimer’s disease process.

The study focused on what seemed to be a previously unknown role for a brain protein – death receptor 6 – in the development of Alzheimer’s.

As is the case with many new theories in Alzheimer’s, a central finding of the study was found to be incorrect. After several years of attempts to duplicate the results, Genentech eventually gave up on the investigation.

Doctor. Tessier-Lavigne left Genentech in 2011 to head Rockefeller University, but, with the company, published subsequent work admitting failure to verify key parts of the research.

More recently, Dr. Tessier-Lavigne told industry publication State News that there were discrepancies in the results of the experiments, which she blamed impure protein samples,

Her laboratory’s failure to ensure the purity of the samples was one of the scientific process problems cited by the panel, even though it found that Dr. Tessier-Lavigne was unaware of those problems at the time. He called Dr. Tessier-Lavigne’s decision to correct the original paper not as “sub-optimal” but within the bounds of scientific practice.

In her statement, Dr. Tessier-Lavigne said that she had previously tried to issue a correction to the Cell and Science papers, but Cell had refused to publish the correction and Science had refused to publish the correction even after it agreed to do so. I failed.

The panel’s findings mirrored a report released in April by Genentech, which Said Its own internal review of the Stanford Daily’s claims found no evidence of “fraud, fabrication, or other intentional wrongdoing”.

Much of the Stanford panel’s report is a detailed appendix that analyzes images in 12 published papers in which Dr. Tessier-Lavigne served as either author or co-author, some 20 years old.

In the papers, the panel found several examples of images that were duplicated or combined but concluded that Dr. Tessier-Lavigne did not participate in the manipulation, was not aware of them at the time, and failed to locate them. I was not negligent.

Doctor. Matthew Schrag, an assistant professor of neurology at Vanderbilt University who flagged problems with the 2009 Alzheimer’s study in February, said the study’s publication shows how scientific journals sometimes let leading researchers scrutinize their studies. Time gives benefit of doubt.

For senior scientists running busy labs, Dr. Schrag said, it can be difficult to check every piece of data produced by the more junior researchers they oversee. But, he added, “I think the accumulation of problems rises to a level that requires some monitoring.”

Doctor. Schrag insisted that he was speaking for himself, not Vanderbilt, said Dr. Tessier-Lavigne’s resignation was understandable, as was her stay on the faculty. He noted that many of Dr. Tessier-Lavigne’s discoveries had been validated and helped solve important mysteries of neuroscience.

Dr. said, “I have some mixed feelings about his heat, because I think it’s highly unlikely that he was the main player at fault here.” Shraag said. “I think he probably had a responsibility to do more than that, but that also doesn’t mean he wasn’t trying to do the right thing.”

oliver wang, Benjamin Muller And Katie Robertson Contributed reporting.

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