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Accusations of Fraud, Set to Music

A new video posted on YouTube by an anonymous person purports to show instances of misconduct in the work of prominent Japanese researcher Shigeaki Kato, of the University of Tokyo's Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, reports ScienceInsider's Dennis Normile. The whistleblower's video is a slideshow of still images set to a sort of muzak soundtrack — the shots, Normile says, are of "over 60 allegedly duplicated and manipulated images in 24 papers, including 19 instances in a single publication." The papers included in the video go back to 2001, and have been published in journals like Nature, Cell, PNAS, and others. The accusations also appear on a website created specifically to expose the alleged misconduct.

ScienceInsider tracked down the whistleblower, Normile says. The man asked to be called Juuichi Jigen, which means "11 dimensions" in Japanese. "The phrase is taken from a case of misconduct the whistleblower had written about on his blog that involved a researcher who claimed to have developed an '11-dimensional theory of the universe,'" Normile says. Jigen says he is a life-sciences researcher in the private sector, he adds.

Jigen tells ScienceInsider that he began looking into Kato's work after someone else pointed him to a correction of a 2009 Nature paper published by Kato's lab. Several images in that paper were found to be faulty. "Jigen and his colleague then examined 24 papers from the Kato group and spotted the allegedly problematic images," Normile says. "Jigen says they notified the university earlier this month and were subsequently told that there would be an investigation." A university spokesperson tells ScienceInsider that a preliminary investigation is underway.

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