After months of rigorous scrutiny of his scientific work, Mark Tessier-Lavigne announced On Wednesday, he announced he was stepping down as president of Stanford University after an independent research investigation found serious flaws in research he oversaw decades ago.
of reviewConducted by an external panel of scientists, the investigation explored the most serious claims about Dr. Tessier-Lavigne’s work, namely the pivotal 2009 Alzheimer’s disease study, and uncovered false data. , refuted claims that Dr. Tessier-Lavigne covered it up.
The commission concluded that the allegations published in February by the campus newspaper, the Stanford Daily, “appeared to be false” and found no evidence of data falsification or of Dr. Tessier Lavigne’s involvement in fraud. rice field.
However, the review notes that a 2009 study conducted when he was an executive at the biotech company Genentech had “multiple problems”, making it particularly “scientifically rigorous” for such an influential paper. It fell short of customary standards for quality and processes.”
After peer review, Dr. Tessier Lavigne said she would retract the 1999 paper published in the journal Cell and two other papers published in Science in 2001. He said he would also retract two other papers published in Nature, including a 2009 Alzheimer’s study. You will receive what is called comprehensive correction.
Stanford University is known for its leadership in scientific research, and the allegations included research published before Dr. Tessier Lavigne arrived at the university in 2016. It didn’t really reflect sincerity.
In a statement outlining the reason for his resignation, Dr. Tessier Lavigne said: “At least in the short term, there could be ongoing debates about the report and its conclusions, which could lead to debates about my ability to lead the university,” he said. ”
Dr. Tessier Lavigne, 63, will step down as president at the end of August, but will remain at the university as a professor of biology.
The university has appointed Professor of European Studies Richard Salah as Interim Chancellor effective September 1.
As president of Stanford University, Dr. Tessier Lavigne is best known for founding the Dore School of Sustainability, the university’s first new school in 70 years. The mission of the school, which opened last year, is to find solutions to climate change.
The commission’s 89-page report, based on more than 50 interviews and review of more than 50,000 documents, found members of Dr. Tessier Lavigne’s lab accused of improper manipulation of research data and scientific practices. It concluded that five laboratories were involved in the flaws, resulting in major flaws. A paper with Dr. Tessier Lavigne as the primary author.
In several instances, the committee found that Dr. Tessier Lavigne had not taken sufficient steps to correct errors, and after follow-up investigations revealed that key findings were erroneous. He questioned his decision not to seek corrections to the 2009 paper.
The deficiencies identified by the committee included a total of 12 papers in which Dr. Tessier Lavigne was listed as a lead or co-author. A noted neuroscientist, he has published over 200 papers primarily focused on the causes and treatments of degenerative brain diseases. Since the 1990s, he has worked at multiple institutions, including Stanford University, Rockefeller University, University of California, San Francisco, and biotechnology company Genentech.
The accusations first surfaced several years ago on PubPeer, an online crowdsourcing site for publishing and discussing scientific research. But the issue resurfaced after the student newspaper, the Stanford Daily, published a series of articles questioning the accuracy and integrity of the research produced in the lab overseen by Dr. Tessier Lavigne.
newspapers first reported Claim Last November, images were found to have been manipulated in a published paper that listed Dr. Tessier Lavigne as first author or co-author.
In February, the Campus Newspaper published an article alleging more serious fraud involving a 2009 paper published by Dr. Tessier Lavigne when she was a senior researcher at Genentech.
The Stanford Daily reports that a Genentech investigation found that the 2009 study contained falsified data, and Dr. Tessier Lavigne tried to cover up the discovery.
He also reported that a postdoctoral researcher involved in the study was accused of falsifying data at Genentech.
Both Dr. Tessier Lavigne and a former researcher now practicing in Florida have strongly denied claims that they relied heavily on anonymous sources.
Noting that in some cases the anonymous sources cited in the Stanford Daily article could not be identified, the review panel noted that the study “conducted a fraud investigation by Genentech and found fraudulent activity.” The paper’s allegation “seems to be.” be misunderstood. No such investigation was conducted, according to the report.
Following the Paper’s first report of the manipulated study in November, the Stanford University Board of Trustees formed a task force chaired by Stanford Trustee and former U.S. Attorney Carol Lamb to consider the allegations. bottom. The task force then asked former federal judge Mark Phillip of Illinois and his law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, to conduct the review.
In January, it was announced that Philippe had asked a five-member scientific committee, including a Nobel laureate and former Princeton University president, to investigate the claims from a scientific perspective.
Genentech touted the 2009 study as groundbreaking, with Dr. Tessier Lavigne outlining the findings. presentation For Genentech investors, it’s a whole new and different look at the Alzheimer’s disease process.
This study focused on a previously unknown role of the brain protein death receptor 6 in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
As with many new theories about Alzheimer’s disease, the central findings of the study turned out to be wrong. After years of trying to replicate the results, Genentech finally abandoned his research arm.
Dr. Tessier Lavigne retired from Genentech in 2011 to become president of The Rockefeller University, where he and the company published subsequent findings admitting that they failed to confirm a key piece of the research.
Recently, Dr. Tessier Lavigne told the publication STAT NEWS that the experimental results were inconsistent and that was the reason. impure protein sample.
The failure of Dr. Tessier Lavigne’s Genentech lab to ensure the purity of the samples was one of the problems with the scientific process cited by the panel, which also called the original paper “suboptimal.” It criticized Dr. Tessier Lavigne’s decision to not correct and to be within the criteria. Limitations of scientific practice.
In a statement, Dr. Tessier Lavigne said in a statement that he had previously attempted to issue corrections to the Cell and Science papers, but Cell had refused to publish the corrections and Science had been unable to publish the corrections despite agreeing to do so. said.
The panel’s findings corroborate a report released by Genentech in April. Said An independent internal investigation into the Stanford Daily’s allegations found no evidence of “fraud, fabrication, or other willful misconduct.”
Most of the nearly 60-page panel report is a detailed appendix of image analysis of 12 published scientific papers, some dating back 20 years, authored or co-authored by Dr. Tessier Lavigne. .
The committee found that there were multiple images duplicated or stitched together in the paper, but Dr. Tessier Lavigne was not involved in the manipulation, was unaware of the images at the time, and recklessly copied the images. It concluded that the detection did not fail. .
Oliver Wang Contributed to the report.