Journal corrects images in study co-authored by Stanford president after allegations of research misconduct

The European Molecular Biology Organization Journal has issued a correction to a paper for which Stanford (Calif.) University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, PhD, a prominent neuroscientist, is listed as a co-author. 

The correction concerns a brain study published in May 2008 and co-authored by Dr. Tessier-Lavigne when he worked at biotechnology company Genentech.

"The editors contacted the authors after becoming aware of potential image aberrations in the paper," the correction posted April 26 says.

The correction cites multiple figures and associated claims. Some figures were retracted and replaced, another was retracted and another was corrected. 

Dr. Tessier-Lavigne, who became Stanford's president in 2016, did not respond to a request from the San Francisco Chronicle for comment. However, he has denied allegations of research misconduct.  

Late last year, Stanford University's board of trustees opened an investigation into Dr. Tessier-Lavigne amid allegations that several research papers he co-authored may contain altered images.

The university launched its investigation after The Stanford Daily, a campus newspaper, confirmed that The European Molecular Biology Organization Journal would review possible misconduct regarding the 2008 brain study. Allegations of research misconduct were also raised regarding papers published in 1999 and the early 2000s in Cell, Nature and Science. Three of these studies now have "formal expressions of concern" associated with them, according to the Chronicle, and an academic integrity expert has expressed particular concern about the Cell study

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, lead author of the 2008 study, Valérie Castellani, took full responsibility for issues with the study's data and figures in comments she posted on the academic integrity site Pubpeer.

The Stanford Daily particularly focused on a study published in 2009 in Nature when Dr. Tessier-Lavigne was at Genentech. The allegations included that the study contained falsified data. In a February statement, Dr. Tessier-Lavigne said the article is "replete with falsehoods and betrays a misunderstanding of science and the scientific process." According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the reporter from The Stanford Daily and the newspaper's advisers said they "fully stand by our reporting."

A Stanford spokesperson told Becker's, "We don't have anything to add to the existing information." 

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