Yoshiki Sasai, a co-author of research papers that claimed to have discovered a potentially groundbreaking method to create pluripotent cells called STAP (stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency), has killed himself. After the STAP research raised doubts, Sasai, as an adviser to Haruko Obokata, the chief researcher of the STAP cell research, was criticized for submitting the two papers to Nature science magazine in Britain without carefully verifying data used by Obokata.

People concerned at the government-affiliated Riken institution, the research base for both Obokata and Sasai, should ponder what went wrong with its research system and culture as to lead to the tragic incident — Sasai hanging himself from a stairway handrail at the Riken Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, where he served as deputy director.

Riken's self-scrutiny should be the first step toward true reform of the institution.