Stanford president resigns after report finds flaws in his research

Marc Tessier-Levigne subjected his scientific work to months of intense scrutiny declared On Wednesday he resigned as president of Stanford University after an independent review of his research found significant flaws in studies he oversaw decades later.

The ReviewConducted by a team of external scientists, Dr. Tessier-Levin’s work has been refuted by the most serious claim — a 2009 landmark study on Alzheimer’s was the subject of an investigation that found falsified data and Dr. Tessier-Levigne shut it down.

The panel concluded that the claims “appear to be false” and that there was no evidence of falsified data or that Dr Tessier-Levigne engaged in fraud.

But the 2009 study, conducted while he was an executive at biotech company Genentech, had “numerous problems” and fell “below the usual standards of scientific rigor and process” especially for such an influential paper.

As a result of the review, Dr. Tessier-Levigne said he was retracting a 1999 paper in the journal Cell and two 2001 articles in Science. Carry out what is described as extensive editing.

Stanford is known for its leadership in scientific research, and although the claims involved work published before Dr. Tessier-Levigne arrived at the university in 2016, the allegations reflect poorly on the university’s integrity.

In a statement detailing the reasons for his resignation, Dr. Tessier-Levigne said, “I expect that there will be continued debate about the report and its conclusions, at least in the short term, which will lead to a debate about my ability to lead the university. In the new academic year.” 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.

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The university named Richard Saller, professor of European studies, as interim president, effective Sept. 1.

The allegations first surfaced several years ago against Pappir, an online crowdsourcing platform for publishing and discussing scientific works. But they resurfaced after the student newspaper, The Stanford Daily, published a series of articles questioning the accuracy and integrity of work produced in labs overseen by Dr. Tessier-Levigne.

As Stanford’s president, Dr. Tessier-Levigne launched the Doerr School of Sustainability, the university’s first new school in 70 years. The school, which opened last year, aims to tackle climate change.

Based on the panel’s 89-page report, more than 50 interviews and a review of more than 50,000 documents, Dr. Members of Tessier-Levin’s laboratories engaged in inappropriate handling of research data or flawed scientific procedures, resulting in significant deficiencies in five. The papers listed Dr. Tessier-Levigne as the lead author.

In several cases, the team found, Drs. Tessier-Levigne did not take sufficient steps to correct the mistakes, and it questioned her decision not to seek a correction in the 2009 paper after it revealed that its key finding was incorrect.

The omissions cited by the committee included a total of 12 papers in which Dr. Tessier-Levigne was listed as lead author or co-author. As a noted neuroscientist, he has published more than 200 articles, primarily focusing on the etiology and treatment of degenerative brain diseases. Beginning in the 1990s, he worked at several institutions, including Stanford, Rockefeller University, the University of California, San Francisco, and Genentech, a biotechnology company.

Stanford Daily first reported the story Claims The images were manipulated in papers published last November that listed Dr. Tessier-Levigne as lead author or co-author.

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In February, the campus newspaper reported that while a senior scientist at Genentech, Dr. A 2009 article published by Tessier-Levigne published an article with more serious claims about fraud.

The Stanford Daily reports that Genentech’s investigation found that the 2009 study contained falsified data, and that Dr. It also stated that Tessier-Levigne was diagnosed. It tried to hide its findings.

It also reported that Genentech, a postdoctoral researcher who worked on the study, was caught with false data.

Dr. Tessier-Lavigne and the former researcher, now a medical doctor in Florida, strongly denied the claims, relying heavily on unnamed sources.

Noting that in some cases, the unnamed sources mentioned in The Stanford Daily story could not be identified, the research team said that the Daily’s claim that “Genentech conducted a fraud investigation and found fraud” “appears” in the study. must be wrong.” No such inquiry was conducted, the statement said.

Following the newspaper’s initial report on the manipulation probes in November, Stanford’s board, chaired by Stanford trustee and former federal prosecutor Carol Lamm, set up a special committee to review the claims. The special committee engaged Mark Phillips, a former federal judge in Illinois, and his law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, to conduct the review.

In January, Mr. Philip reportedly led a five-member scientific panel — which included a Nobel laureate and a former Princeton president — to examine the claims from a scientific perspective.

Genentech hailed the 2009 study as a breakthrough, Dr. Tessier-Levigne once classified the findings. presentation A completely new and different way for Genentec investors to look at the Alzheimer’s disease process.

The study focused on what it said was a previously unknown role for a brain protein called death receptor 6 in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

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As with many new theories in Alzheimer’s, the study’s central finding was found to be incorrect. After years of trying to replicate the results, Genentech eventually abandoned the trial.

Dr. Tessier-Lavigne left Genentec in 2011 to head the Rockefeller University, but, while with the company, published subsequent work admitting to failing to confirm key areas of research.

More recently, Dr. Tessier-Levigne told industry publication Stat News that he alleged inconsistencies in the results of the tests. impure protein samples.

Dr. Tessier-Levin’s Genentech lab failed to confirm the purity of the samples, one of the scientific process problems cited by the team, which Dr. Tessier-Levin criticized the decision not to correct the original paper as “formative”. Frontiers of Scientific Practice.

In her statement, Dr. Tessier-Levigne said Cell and Science tried to publish corrections to the papers, but Cell refused to publish a correction and Science failed to publish after agreeing to do so.

The team’s findings confirmed a report released by Genentech in April said The Stanford Daily’s own internal review of the claims found no evidence of “fraud, fabrication or other intentional wrongdoing.”

The bulk of the panel’s report, some 60 pages, is a detailed appendix of analysis of images in 12 published scientific papers, in which Drs. Tessier-Levigne served as editor or co-editor, some as far back as 20 years.

The panel found several instances of images copied or extracted from the papers, but concluded that Dr Tessier-Levigne had not participated in the manipulation, was not aware of them at the time, and was not negligent in failing to detect them. .

Oliver Wang Contributed report.

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