Dr. Haruko Obokata, a rising star of the scientific community and lead author on two papers heralded as revolutionizing to the field of stem cell research, has been found guilty of scientific misconduct by Japan’s leading research institute.
The accusation is the latest problem for the studies, which claimed to be able to produce stem cells from ordinary cells in simple laboratory procedures: bathing regular cells in an acid, or applying mechanical stressors like “squeezing.” The research, known as stimulus triggered activation of pluripotency (STAP), was published in Nature in January, and recently ran into questions of methodology.
On Tuesday morning, the research institute RIKEN announced that Obokata, 30, had deliberately fabricated the data to produce the findings. Institute director Ryoji Noyori said he planned to “rigorously punish relevant people after procedures in a disciplinary committee,” according to AFP. Shunsuke Ishii, chairman of the investigative committee on the issue, told reporters that “Obokata alone is responsible for the misconduct.”