National

Riken top brass to take pay cuts over STAP cell scandal

Kyodo

The Riken research institute has announced pay cuts for its top brass, in connection with an embarrassing international scandal over research on so-called STAP cells.

Riken President Ryoji Noyori, a 2001 Nobel laureate in chemistry, will return 10 percent of his pay for three months, while five executive directors will do the same for between one and two months, the institute said on Thursday.

Executive Director Minoru Yonekura, a former bureaucrat who was in charge of the institute’s regulatory compliance policy, stepped down on Thursday. He will be succeeded by Mutsuhiro Arinobu, an auditor at the University of Tokyo.

The government-backed institute faces the daunting task of regaining its credibility after one of its young scientists, Haruko Obokata, was found to have falsified data in papers she co-authored on so-called stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency cells.

The papers, which were published in the prestigious British journal Nature in January, have been retracted and Riken is conducting experiments to determine whether pluripotent stem cells, which are able to differentiate into different types of cells, can in fact be generated using the method outlined in the retracted research papers.

In accordance with an action plan aimed at preventing future cases of misconduct, Riken has set up a new regulatory compliance team, that will be led by Arinobu, and reports directly to the president.

It has also created a committee made up of the president, the five executive directors and seven external experts that will discuss the management of the research body, with Hitachi Ltd. adviser Takashi Kawamura as chairman.

A six-member external monitoring committee chaired by Mitsubishi Electric Corp. adviser Tamotsu Nomakuchi will oversee reforms at Riken, with the first meeting set to take place within a month.

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