September 27, 2023

Mark Tessier-Lavigne, a famend neuroscientist, introduced Wednesday that he’ll step down as president of Stanford College after a broadcast exterior evaluation of his analysis discovered errors in a number of high-profile journal articles revealed beneath his path.

The committee ready the evaluation in response to accusations that Dr. Tessier-Lavigne was concerned in scientific misconduct. The committee included 5 distinguished biologists and neuroscientists, together with Randy Shekman, who acquired the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medication, and Shirley Tilman, who served as president of Princeton College from 2001 to 2013.

However the committee famous that “a number of members of Dr. Tessier-Lavigne’s laboratory over time seem to have manipulated analysis knowledge and/or did not adjust to accepted scientific follow,” pointing to quite a few errors within the 5 papers over which Dr. Tessier-Lavigne directed or supervised the examine. In response, Dr. Tessier-Lavigne promised to withdraw three of the 5 articles, demand main revisions for 2, and step down as president.

“I’m glad that the panel concluded that I used to be not concerned in any fraud or falsification of scientific knowledge,” Dr. Tessier-Lavigne stated in an announcement, including: “Though I used to be not conscious of those points, I need to make it clear that I’m accountable for the work of my laboratory employees.”

In 2015, quite a few considerations have been raised on the PubPeer web site about picture knowledge revealed in three papers—one in Cell in 1999 and two in Science in 2001—whose lead creator was Dr. Tessier-Lavigne. Considerations diverse, pointing to digital modifying and manipulation of picture backgrounds, duplication of particular person photos, and creation of composite photos that obscured the purity of the scientific knowledge.

These considerations have been revisited in 2022 by a number of media shops, together with Stanford pupil newspaper The Stanford Every day, which additional reviewed Dr. Tessier-Lavigne’s examine. The magazines drew consideration to the photographs in over a dozen completely different newspapers that Dr. Tessier-Lavigne labored on. Whereas some photos appeared to have little impact on the outcomes of the research, others appeared to have a big impact on the outcomes.

Consequently, Stanford’s board of trustees launched an investigation into Dr. Tessier-Lavigne’s scientific work and arranged a five-member panel of consultants to evaluation the allegations.

In early 2023, The Stanford Every day revealed new allegations that in 2009, when Dr. Tessier-Lavigne was working as an government for the biotech firm Genentech, he revealed an article in Nature containing falsified knowledge. Citing unnamed sources, the scholar paper advised {that a} analysis evaluation committee performed an inner investigation at Genentech into the 2009 paper and located proof of knowledge falsification. The Stanford Every day additionally advised that Dr. Tessier-Lavigne was conscious of those points however prevented them from being made public.

Dr. Tessier-Lavigne vehemently denied the allegations.

After 50 conferences and accumulating 50,000 paperwork, the five-member knowledgeable panel launched its findings on Wednesday. He concluded that regardless of picture manipulation and proof of methodological sloppiness in every of the papers he studied, Dr. Tessier-Lavigne himself was not concerned in any of this and didn’t “consciously encourage different actions.”

He was additionally cleared of essentially the most severe allegation: knowledge falsification in his 2009 Nature paper. The committee famous that the examine “lacked the rigor anticipated of an article with such potential implications” and decided that Dr. Tessier-Lavigne might have been extra direct concerning the article’s shortcomings, however concluded that the allegations of fraud have been false.

Within the paper, the researchers claimed to have discovered a series response of mind proteins, together with one referred to as loss of life receptor 6, that contributed to the event of Alzheimer’s illness. If analysis continues, it guarantees to open a brand new avenue for higher understanding and remedy of the illness.

“There was some pleasure that this might be an alternate view of the illness,” stated Dr. Matthew Schrag, a neuroscientist at Vanderbilt College.

Nonetheless, additional research, a few of which have been revealed by Dr. Tessier-Lavigne’s laboratory, confirmed that experiments emphasizing the function of the DR6 chain response within the improvement of Alzheimer’s illness didn’t affirm the claims. This was true partly due to the unexpected uncomfortable side effects of the inhibitors that have been used within the experiments, and likewise due to the impurities within the proteins used.

The Panel of Consultants advised that as a substitute of publishing extra papers refuting the outcomes of the 2009 paper, Dr. Tessier-Lavigne might have immediately made a correction or rebuttal. However the report discovered that the fraud allegations, first revealed in The Stanford Every day primarily based on testimony from principally unnamed sources (a few of which the committee couldn’t establish), mixed an unrelated case of scientific misconduct in Dr. Tessier-Lavigne’s lab with a 2009 article.

Dr. Schrag, who discovered photos that appeared like duplicates in a 2009 examine and flagged them publicly in February, stated the examine merely wasn’t rigorous sufficient. “The standard of the work was poor,” stated Dr. Schrag, emphasizing that he was talking for himself and never for his college.

Of the 12 papers reviewed by the knowledgeable committee, nearly all have been discovered to have “manipulation of analysis knowledge.” In accordance with the report, such manipulations are a variety of practices, together with digitally altering photos, panel splicing, utilizing knowledge from unrelated experiments, duplicating knowledge, and digitally altering the looks of proteins. However the committee acknowledged that among the examples of manipulation could have been unintentional or could have been an try to “beautify” the outcomes.

Mike Rossner, president of biomedical imaging consultancy Picture Information Integrity, stated he spent 12 years between 2002 and 2013 reviewing manuscripts accepted for publication in The Journal of Cell Biology. He discovered that about 25 p.c of the articles “had some type of manipulation that violated our guidelines and needed to be corrected earlier than publication.” Typically, the issues have been random and didn’t have an effect on the interpretation of the info, he stated. However in about 1% of instances, the paper needed to be pulled.

“There’s a sample that this isn’t as uncommon as we need to imagine,” Dr. Schrag stated.

Quite a few incidents of picture manipulation prompted an knowledgeable committee to talk to PhD researchers who’ve labored beneath Dr. Tessier-Lavigne at varied establishments, together with Stanford and Genentech, at varied occasions.

Many praised Dr. Tessier-Lavigne for his mental acuity and dedication to scientific rigor, however many additionally described the laboratory tradition that inspired good outcomes and profitable experiments. They believed that the lab and Dr. Tessier-Lavigne “tended to reward ‘winners’ (i.e., postdocs who might get favorable outcomes) and marginalize or belittle ‘losers’ (i.e., postdocs who couldn’t or had issue producing such knowledge),” the report notes.

The committee decided that Dr. Tessier-Lavigne didn’t need this dynamic, however it might have contributed to the excessive pace of manipulation of the info produced in his labs.

Dr. Tessier-Lavigne, who will step down as president on Aug. 31 however stay a professor of biology at Stanford, stated in an e mail to college students, “Though I continually monitor all of the science in my lab, I’ve additionally at all times run my lab on belief—trusting my college students and doctoral college students and trusting that the info they introduced to me was actual and correct. Sooner or later, I’ll proceed to tighten management.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.