University of Tokyo bioscience lab papers found to contain fabrications

Kyodo

The University of Tokyo has found at least 43 past research papers from its bioscience laboratory containing falsifications and fabrications, a source said Thursday.

In an interim in-house report, the nation’s top university has found that 43 of 165 papers written between 1996 to 2011 that were supervised by Shigeaki Kato, a former professor at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, should be retracted. Many of his research projects had been funded by the government.

The university, known in Japan as Todai, had been investigating the case based on information provided from outside. The fabrications included turning an image in the reverse direction and using it as a different image from the original, the report said without elaborating on what specific research outcomes may have been falsified.

Kato has admitted to Kyodo News that what the university found is true, adding that he will withdraw the papers whose fabrications have been discovered.

The problematic papers were mainly apparently written by one of several groups in the institute that were under his supervision.

“I couldn’t detect those who were making such mistakes,” claimed Kato, known as a leading expert on molecular biology. “I am responsible.”

The interim report indicated Kato damaged the credibility of the university’s academic research even though he was not directly involved in the writing process.

“Although he was not directly involved in the fabrications, the former professor should bear grave responsibility for the damage he has caused to the credibility of academic research performed by the university as well as to the future of young researchers,” the report said.

Between 2004 and 2009, Kato led a big research project, which received about ¥1.8 billion in taxpayer money. The project’s main thesis was also found to have contained falsifications and fabrications, and the interim report recommended the thesis be retracted, the source said.

Kato left the university in March 2012 after the fabrications were first disclosed.

An education ministry official said the government may demand a refund of the public funds.

  • JS

    There seems to be an epidemic of falsified and doctored documents, data and reports at Japanese institutions. I think it speaks to the closed nature of Japanese academic institutions, businesses, police, courts and the legal system. The ony remedy is to have more openness, diversity and transparency in these Japanese institutions. That automatically puts more checks and balances in place.