Stanford to investigate president over research misconduct allegations

Stanford (Calif.) University's board of trustees has opened an investigation into its president amid allegations that at least four research papers he co-authored may contain altered images, according to a Dec. 1 report from The Washington Post. 

The university's investigation was launched after The Stanford Daily,, a campus newspaper, confirmed that The European Molecular Biology Organization Journal is reviewing possible misconduct regarding a paper published in 2008 for which Marc Tessier-Lavigne, PhD, a prominent neuroscientist, is listed as a co-author. Dr. Tessier-Lavigne became Stanford's president in 2016. Allegations of research misconduct have also been raised on papers published in 1999 and the early 2000s in Cell, Nature and Science

A 2001 paper for which Dr. Tessier-Lavigne was the lead author appears to have images that were intentionally photoshopped, according to Elizabeth Bik, PhD, a research integrity consultant who specializes in photographic images. 

Dee Mostofi, a university spokesperson, told the campus paper that Stanford "will assess the allegations presented in the Stanford Daily, consistent with its normal rigorous approach by which allegations of research misconduct are reviewed and investigated." 

In a statement provided to the Daily via a university spokesperson, Dr. Tessier-Lavigne said he supports the investigation: "Scientific integrity is of the utmost importance both to the university and to me personally. I support this process and will fully cooperate with it, and I appreciate the oversight by the Board of Trustees." 

Dr. Tessier-Lavigne was alerted of several errors in his papers in 2015, the university said in its statement to the Daily, adding that he contacted the editors of two journals the same day he was made aware of the issues. He voluntarily submitted corrections to Science that were not published. Holden Thorp, PhD, editor in chief of the Science family of journals, told The Washington Post the corrections were never published due to an error on the journal's part. 

It's unclear how long Stanford's review of the possible research misconduct will take. 

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