Stanford President to resign after scientific misconduct investigation
Marc Tessier-Lavigne announced Wednesday that he would resign after the investigation finds flaws in his research and will retract at least three papers.
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Stanford University President Marc Tessier- Lavigne announced Wednesday that he would resign after an investigation found “manipulation of research data” and his failure to “decisively and forthrightly correct mistakes in the scientific record.”
A panel of experts concluded that Tessier-Lavigne did not engage in data manipulation, “did not have a material role in the preparation of the data and/or figures that have been publicly challenged, and was not in a position where a reasonable scientist would be expected to have detected any such misconduct,” the investigation report states.
Despite the intense scrutiny, the investigation results refute the Stanford Daily claims in November that a 2009 Alzheimer’s study involved falsified data and that Tessier-Lavigne covered it up. The Scientific panel did not find evidence to support this claim. But does note, “each of the papers has serious flaws in the presentation of research data.”
At the time, Stanford Daily reported that “allegations regarding these four papers and multiple others have been made repeatedly over the last seven years on PubPeer, a site that allows scientists to identify suspected anomalies in publications.”
In a statement describing the reasons for resigning, Dr. Tessier-Lavigne said, “I expect there may be ongoing discussion about the report and its conclusions, at least in the near term, which could lead to debate about my ability to lead the University into the new academic year.”
Although he admits knowing some of the papers had some issues, he mentions, “I agree with the Panel that in some cases those steps were insufficient.” As a result, he will retract three of the papers and correct the other two.
“These findings have also caused me to further reassess the processes and controls I have in place,” Dr. Tessier-Lavigne said in a statement, adding that moving forward, "I will be further tightening controls, including, for example, more systematically matching processed images to original raw data, both in the course of each scientific study and especially when bringing a study to publication. I will vigorously apply this and other best practices to ensure that these kinds of problems do not recur.”
Dr. Tessier-Lavigne is expected to step down as President of Stanford University, effective August 31, and will remain at the university as a Biology professor.
Read the full report here.