Stanford president resigns in research row

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Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne will resign voluntarily on August 31 after an independent examination found “serious flaws” in five scholarly publications he co-authored.

Tessier-Lavigne’s resignation, disclosed in a statement to students on Wednesday, comes after the initiation of an investigation into claims of fraud and other unethical research behavior in scientific papers, some of which are more than two decades old, in December.

The president of the institution, a neuroscientist, stated that he “never submitted a scientific paper without firmly believing that the data were correct and accurately presented.” He did, however, admit that he should have sought more substantial corrections to his work and that some scientific tests needed stricter controls.

The independent panel ruled that Tessier-Lavigne changed data in 12 research publications assessed, but that he was not responsible for the immoral nature of the research.

According to the panel, five papers with Tessier-Lavigne as the lead author had “serious flaws in the presentation of research data.” It claimed that four of these contained obvious data tampering.

Stanford’s president for the past seven years, Tessier-Lavigne, stated that he was aware of flaws in four of the five articles but that he had taken “insufficient” steps to correct them. He also stated that he plans to retract three papers and revise two others.

The Stanford Daily, the university’s student-run publication, initially raised the issue after questioning the substance of several of Tessier-Lavigne’s scientific papers. It came after a public debate on the PubPeer website, which is frequently used by academic researchers to discuss the integrity of published papers.

The panel cleared Tessier-Lavigne of the most serious complaint leveled against him. It was discovered in 2009 that a paper he wrote about Alzheimer’s disease study did not contain incorrect research. It was also determined that the article’s contents contained “various errors and shortcomings.”

Tessier-Lavigne will continue to teach biology at Stanford when his retirement as President takes effect on August 31. He has also declared that he intends to continue.