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New Strategy at Riken

As part of his strategy to rebuild Riken after it was rocked by scandal last year, Hiroshi Matsumoto, the new institute president, plans to implement a tenure-track system there and encourage young researchers to seek experience overseas, ScienceInsider reports.

Matsumoto took the helm at Riken in early April, and presented his new strategy last week in Tokyo after visiting all of the major Riken facilities and meeting with both leaders and new investigators.

ScienceInsider notes that Matsumoto's main goal is to rebuild the institute. It suffered a blow last year as high-profile papers purporting to be able to generate embryonic stem cell-like cells were retracted and an investigation uncovered instances of research misconduct. That led to the resignation of the lead author, the suicide of another, and a revamping of the developmental biology program. The head of the institute at the time, Ryoji Noyori, also stepped down.

By implementing a tenure-track system, Matsumoto hopes to enable young investigators at the institute to pursue longer-term projects. Currently, most young investigators have fixed-length appointments of five years, which leads them to follow research plans with short-term results to help them on their next job search, ScienceInsider writes.

Matsumoto says this constant movement between positions "creates a very difficult situation for young researchers."

In addition, Matsumoto says he wants to encourage young Japanese researchers to seek experience abroad — which some are loathe to do for fear of not finding a job upon their return — by creating formal exchange programs.