Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

The Circle Widens

The investigation of Riken stem cell scientist Haruko Obokata for alleged research misconduct has ensnared other researchers as well, now including Nobel Prize winner Shinya Yamanaka, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Earlier this year, Obokata's Nature papers describing a way to produced embryonic-like stem cells through exposure to a strong stimulus like an acid bath first took the research world by storm, but then questions about certain pictures and data re-ruse emerges.

Riken found Obokata guilty of research misconduct, though she is appealing the finding and has said the errors in her work were not deliberate.

Shunsuke Ishii, the chair of the committee at Riken that investigated Obokata, also became the subject of a misconduct inquiry last week, ScienceInsider reports.

Ishii, who has resigned from that committee, has issued a correction because of problematic images appearing in a 2007 Oncogene paper — the same sort of alterations found by the committee in Obokata's work, the WSJ notes.

Questions have also been raised about another paper, ScienceInsider notes, and Ishii, though he posted additional data, says there aren't issues with that paper.

And this week, Shinya Yamanaka, the Nobel Prize laureate and professor at Kyoto University, has apologized for poor record keeping, also stemming from questions about an image used in a paper, the Journal says.

Kyoto University conducted an investigation after Yamanaka told administration officials about online allegations he found surrounding an image in his EMBO Journal paper from 2000. While the institute found no issues with the conclusions of the paper, Yamanaka no longer had records to support the validity of the image; he says his collaborators conducted the experiments. In his apology, he adds, according to ScienceInsider, he has learned the importance of having "proper notes that can be presented at any time."

"Under recent circumstances, when confidence in the trustworthiness of Japan's research has been shaken, this kind of announcement must be made," he said at a press conference, according to ScienceInsider. "I apologize from the bottom of my heart."