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Biotech Science

Japanese Stem Cell Debacle Could Bring Down Entire Center 52

sciencehabit (1205606) writes Shutting down the research center at the heart of an unfolding scientific scandal may be necessary to prevent a recurrence of research misconduct, according to a report released at a press conference in Tokyo today. A committee reviewing conduct at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) in Kobe, Japan, found lax oversight and a failure on the part of senior authors of two papers in Nature outlining a surprisingly simple way of reprogramming mature cells into stem cells. The committee surmised that a drive to produce groundbreaking results led to publishing results prematurely. "It seems that RIKEN CDB had a strong desire to produce major breakthrough results that would surpass iPS cell research," the report concludes, referring to another type of pluripotent stem cell. "One of our conclusions is that the CDB organization is part of the problem," said committee chair Teruo Kishi Kishi. He recommends a complete overhaul of CDB, including perhaps restructuring it into a new institute. "This has to be more than just changing the nameplate."
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Japanese Stem Cell Debacle Could Bring Down Entire Center

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  • by machineghost ( 622031 ) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @07:49PM (#47226125)

    There's an overwhelming (>95%) scientific consensus on global warming based on hundreds if not thousands of studies (

    In contrast, this was a single, poorly done, study.

  • by kahizonaki ( 1226692 ) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @10:10PM (#47226803) Homepage

    Peer review "cannot" catch fraud and is not meant for it either.

    Sure it is. That's the entire point, to determine if the research is valid. Just because they *do not* review it thoroughly, doesn't excuse them when they fail to catch fraud. "The reviewers do not, and cannot, replicate the results" And what *excatly* is preventing them?

    The purpose of peer review is not to replicate results, it is to determine whether the methods are sound, as OP said.

    What *exactly* is preventing them from replicating is: thousands of hours and millions of dollars of equipment. Not everyone has access to a trillion dollar LHC or super high tech bio lab, and even if the reviewer does, he is doing his own research and cannot spend his grant money or time to the experiment described in the paper just for the purpose of peer review.

    Now, you might suggest re-vamping the system so that there is specific funding for scientists to peer review papers, but that is insane since there are literally thousands of papers published every month, and that is only counting the highest tiers of journals and proceedings.

  • by Ambassador Kosh ( 18352 ) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @10:43PM (#47226945)

    Biology is insanely complex. So complex that even a .1% impurity of a drug with a dimer form can leave you with a permanent autoimmune disease or outright kill you. There have been experiments before that nobody else could replicate and it turned out to be a batch of pipet tips being used.

    It is not good that they publish without being able to replicate but the incentive system does not encourage that. Nature doesn't publish articles that replicate results or show a negative result on something. How you do as a scientists in today's climate is based on getting in high impact journals. This means as soon as someone gets a working result they immediately try to public it in a major journal to avoid being scooped. They later find out they can't replicate the experiment which means something random made it work that they don't understand and probably did not write down.

    You get what you incentivize regardless of the field. This is true in politics, education etc and it is why we have so many unintended consequences. We have poor incentive systems and refuse to change them.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak