Obokata accuser's paper had falsifications

STAP probe head quits over breach


The head of an investigative panel at the state-backed Riken institute that found one of its scientists guilty of research misconduct over the contested discovery of “STAP cells” resigned as chairman Friday amid allegations his own research paper contains falsifications.

Riken began a preliminary probe into the allegations, a move likely to affect the appeal process initiated by accused scientist Haruko Obokata, who was judged by the panel to have fabricated and falsified data in her papers on so-called STAP cells.

Shunsuke Ishii, a senior scientist who heads Riken’s Molecular Genetics Laboratory, said on his lab’s website that in a paper published in the cancer journal Oncogene in 2008, some images had been cut and pasted so their order would match the explanations given in the text. He was one of the principal authors of the cancer gene paper.

Ishii apologized for causing people to develop doubts about the paper, but noted that permission has already been obtained from the journal’s editor to make corrections.

The senior scientist offered to step down as the panel chairman after allegations surfaced on the Internet over the gene analyses images in the paper. Riken accepted his resignation on Friday, according to an official.

In the STAP papers published in the journal Nature in January, Obokata and her co-authors claimed the discovery of a new and simpler way to produce mouse stem cells, which they named stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency cells.

Ishii’s investigative panel concluded in a report announced April 1 that Obokata, a researcher at the Riken Center for Developmental Biology, falsified data in the papers by cutting and pasting an image.

It said Obokata evidently created a composite image to “articulate” the outcome of an experiment, and that it was therefore an “act of research misconduct corresponding to falsification.”

Obokata has disputed the conclusions.

After reports that Ishii resigned as head of the Riken panel, a lawyer representing Obokata said Ishii should stay on if he does not find what he did in his paper constitutes research misconduct.

  • Starviking

    Iishi did not admit falsifications, and he has clearly stated that the only thing he did was to move the order of the images, and has released his lab notes to back this up. In addition, he says he had permission from the journal to make this edit.

    Unless some other new facts come to light the subtitle of this piece, saying that Iishi’s paper had falsifications, should be removed.

    Also, it is sad that given how important that science is to modern life, that a supposedly progressive paper can make such a slanderous comment – one that is not even supported in the body of the text. For shame!

    • piratariaazul

      >>”In addition, he says he had permission

      >>from the journal to make this edit.”

      Well, the article actually says that “Ishii . . . noted that permission has already been obtained from the journal’s editor to make corrections.” It does NOT say that the editors permitted him to “cut & paste” photographic evidence prior to the publication.

      Also, if this was all an misunderstanding, I wonder why he is resigning….

      >>Also, it is sad that given how important that science is to modern life….

      Well, scientists live and die by their data, and the integrity of that data. One doesn’t “cut & paste” photos from controlled lab experiments … This isn’t some fashion beauty shot….

      If you have links to other articles that explain in greater detail exactly what was altered in the photos, I would be curious to learn.

      • Starviking

        Firstly, experimental pics do get edited, from adding in pointers to indicate areas of interest, to flattening an image of a curved surface, and beyond. These are not to deceive, but to present data clearly. What Ishii did was move a lane in an electrophoresis picture to another position – in order to present the results more smoothly. This is akin to hitting the reorder button on a chart to order the information differently. Pretty much like how you can reorder the way posts are displayed here by selecting “newest”, “oldest”, or by popularity. That is all this appears to be.

        As for the modifications – he had permission to do what he did.

        As to why he stepped down – I guess it’s because that many people who provide us with our news do not want to provide any depth to their work – that doesn’t sell papers. I guess “Scientist Modifies Picture to increase Presentability and Understanding of his work” just doesn’t have that scandalous hint to it. Hence he has to step down. Gossip and innuendo is king.

        The extra information I incorporated into my first post was presented on NHK News 9 last night. As opposed to the allegations against Obokata, he did not change the appearance of the moved sections of his images to give a false impression, as Obokata is accused of, and he also provided access to his lab notes.