Marc Tessier-Levigne subjected his scientific work to months of intense scrutiny declared On Wednesday he resigned as president of Stanford University after an independent review of his research found significant flaws in studies he oversaw decades later.
The ReviewConducted by a team of external scientists, Dr. Tessier-Levin’s work has been refuted by the most serious claim — a 2009 landmark study on Alzheimer’s was the subject of an investigation that found falsified data and Dr. Tessier-Levigne shut it down.
The panel concluded that the claims “appear to be false” and that there was no evidence of falsified data or that Dr Tessier-Levigne engaged in fraud.
But the 2009 study, conducted while he was an executive at the biotech company Genentech, had “numerous problems” and “fell below conventional standards of scientific rigor and process,” especially for such an important article.
As a result of the review, Dr. Tessier-Levigne was expected to request substantial revisions to the 2009 paper published in Nature, as well as another Nature review. He said he was seeking the retraction of a 1999 paper in the journal Cell and two 2001 articles in Science.
Stanford is known for its leadership in scientific research, and although the claims involved work that was published before Dr. Tessier-Levigne arrived at the university in 2016, the allegations reflect poorly on the university’s integrity.
In a statement detailing the reasons for his resignation, Dr. Tessier-Levigne said, “I expect that there will be continued debate about the report and its conclusions, at least leading to a debate about my ability to lead the university. In the new academic year.”
Dr. Tessier-Levigne will step down as president at the end of August, but will remain at the university as a permanent professor in the biology department. As president, he launched the university’s first new school in 70 years, the climate-focused Dyer School of Sustainability. A noted neuroscientist, he has published more than 220 articles, primarily on the etiology and treatment of degenerative brain diseases.
The university named Richard Saller, professor of European studies, as interim president, effective Sept. 1.
Based on the Stanford team’s 89-page report, more than 50 interviews and a review of more than 50,000 documents, Dr. Members of Tessier-Levine’s laboratories concluded that significant deficiencies resulted in inappropriate handling of research data or flawed scientific procedures. Five papers by Dr. Tessier-Levinay is listed as the primary author.
In several cases, the team found, Drs. Tessier-Levigne did not take sufficient steps to correct the mistakes, and it questioned her decision not to revise the 2009 paper after it revealed that its key finding was wrong.
The omissions cited by the committee cover a total of 12 papers, seven of which list Dr Tessier-Levigne as a co-author.
63-year-old Dr. The allegations against Tessier-Lavigne first surfaced several years ago on PubPeer.
But they resurfaced after the student newspaper, The Stanford Daily, published a series of articles questioning work produced in labs overseen by Dr. Tessier-Levigne. In November, The Stanford Daily reported Claims Images were manipulated in published papers in which Dr. Tessier-Lavigne was listed as primary author or co-author.
In February, The Stanford Daily published serious claims of fraud involving a 2009 paper Dr. Desier-Levigne published while he was a senior scientist at Gentech. Gentech’s investigation found that the study contained falsified data and Dr. It also said Tessier-Lavigne. It tried to hide its findings.
It also said that Genentech, a postdoctoral researcher who worked on the study, was caught by false data. Dr. Tessier-Lavigne and the former researcher, now a medical doctor in Florida, strongly denied the claims, relying heavily on unnamed sources.
The review panel said The Stanford Daily’s claim that “Genentech conducted a fraud investigation and found fraud” in the study “appears to be false.” No such investigation was conducted, but the group was unable to identify some of the unnamed sources mentioned in the story, the report said.
Kaushik Naidu, editor-in-chief and president of The Stanford Daily, said in a statement Wednesday that the newspaper stands by its reporting.
In response to the newspaper’s initial report on the manipulation probes in November, Stanford’s board of trustees, chaired by Stanford trustee and former federal prosecutor Carol Lamm, set up a special committee to review the claims. The special committee engaged Mark Phillips, a former federal judge in Illinois, and his law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, to conduct the review.
In January, Mr. Philip reportedly enlisted a five-member scientific panel — including a Nobel laureate and a former Princeton president — to examine the claims from a scientific perspective.
Genentech hailed the 2009 study as a breakthrough, Dr. Tessier-Levigne once classified the findings. presentation A completely new and different way for Genentec investors to look at the Alzheimer’s disease process.
The study focused on what it said was a previously unknown role for a brain protein called death receptor 6 in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
As with many new theories in Alzheimer’s, the study’s central finding was found to be incorrect. After years of trying to replicate the results, Genentech eventually abandoned the trial.
Dr. Tessier-Lavigne left Genentec in 2011 to head the Rockefeller University, but, while with the company, published subsequent work admitting to failing to confirm key areas of research.
More recently, Dr. Tessier-Levigne told industry publication Stat News that he alleged inconsistencies in the results of the tests. impure protein samples.
One of the scientific process problems cited by the panel was his lab’s failure to ensure the purity of the samples, even though Dr. Tessier-Levigne was not aware of those problems at the time. This is Dr. Tessier-Levin called the original paper “excessive” and subject to the limitations of scientific practice.
In his statement, Dr. Tessier-Levigne said Cell and Science tried to publish corrections in the paper, but Cell refused to publish a correction and Science failed to publish after agreeing to do so.
The group’s findings echoed a report released by Genentech in April said The Stanford Daily’s own internal review of the claims found no evidence of “fraud, fabrication or other intentional wrongdoing.”
The bulk of the Stanford team’s report is an extensive appendix analyzing images from 12 published papers on which Dr. Tessier-Levigne served as author or co-author, some dating back 20 years.
In the documents, the team found several instances of duplication or extraction, but concluded that Dr Tessier-Levigne did not participate in the manipulations, was not aware of them at the time, and was not negligent in failing to detect them. they.
Assistant Professor of Neurology at Vanderbilt University, Dr. Matthew Schrock flagged problems with the Alzheimer’s study in February 2009, saying the study’s publication illustrates how scientific journals sometimes give key researchers the benefit of the doubt when their studies are scrutinized.
Senior scientists running busy labs can find it difficult to scrutinize every piece of data generated by the junior researchers they supervise, Dr. Schrock said. But, he said, “I think the accumulation of problems will rise to the point where some oversight is needed.”
Dr. Schrock, who insisted she was speaking for herself and not Vanderbilt, said Dr. Tessier-Levigne’s resignation made sense, as did her tenure on the faculty. Dr. He noted that many of Tessier-Levine’s discoveries have been validated and helped unravel important puzzles in neuroscience.
“I have some mixed feelings about the heat he’s taking because I think it’s highly unlikely that he’s the main player at fault here,” Dr. Schrock said. “I think he had a responsibility to do more than he did, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t trying to do the right thing.”
Oliver Wang, Benjamin Muller And Katie Robertson Contributed report.