July 3, 2022

Another stem cell fraud in Japan

Nobel Prize laureate Shinya Yamanaka takes the blame for a subordinate

Nobel Prize winner Shinya Yamanaka has been dragged into a case of stem cell research fraud in his laboratory. This week Kyoto University found that the lead author of a 2017 paper in Stem Cell Reports, Kohei Yamamizu, had fabricated all six main images, which were “pivotal in the conclusions the author drew”.

Yamamizu is an assistant professor in a research group led by Yamanaka at Kyoto University’s Center for iPS Cell Research and Application. There is no suggestion that Yamanaka was involved, but apparently he has even considered resigning from his position.

“[The fraud] is something that shakes the people’s trust in research activities and is extremely regrettable,” Japanese education minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told the media. “We would like to instruct Kyoto University to do its utmost to prevent a recurrence.”

It is unlikely that Yamanaka will be forced out. “Resignation doesn’t sound like the right thing to happen in this situation,” commented Alan Trounson, a leading stem cell scientist at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne.

The field of stem cell research has been marred by a series of spectacular examples of fabrication and falsification, from Korean researcher Hwang Woo-suk in 2004 to Japanese scientist Haruko Obokata in 2014. 

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