President of Stanford Resigns After Research Scandal Blows Up

According to a report, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, the president of Stanford University, resigned after an independent evaluation of his research discovered severe faults in experiments he oversaw dating back decades. The study followed months of intensive criticism of his scientific work.

An independent group of scientists reviewed Dr. Tessier-Lavigne’s work and found no evidence to support the most severe allegation against him: that he had knowingly concealed the discovery of fabricated data in a pivotal 2009 research on Alzheimer’s.

The panel reached its verdict that the assertions appeared to be mistaken since there was no proof of fabricated data or other fraudulent activity by Dr. Tessier-Lavigne.

However, the assessment also found that the research he led in 2009 while working as an executive of the biotech giant Genentech had multiple problems and fell beneath customary requirements for scientific accuracy and process, which is particularly concerning for a report with such potential significance.

After the evaluation, Dr. Tessier-Lavigne was to submit a request for significant changes to be made to the Nature publication from 2009 and another Nature research. He also said he planned to withdraw a Cell study from 1999 and two Science papers from 2001.

During the eight months of the probe, a team member resigned after a media report was published detailing his eighteen million-dollar stake in the biotech business that Tessier-Lavigne had helped build. 

According to the report, investigators were unable to get the cooperation of several witnesses to an alleged item of fraud during Tessier-Lavigne’s employment at the biotechnology firm Genentech because those witnesses insisted on maintaining their identity.

According to Jeffrey Flier, who served as Dean of Harvard Medical School when many investigations into research misconduct were conducted, not promising anonymity in an inquiry of this significance is a very unusual approach that might hinder access to critical witnesses. 

The report questions the findings of a significant 2009 Alzheimer’s investigation that asserted that it had found the root cause of degeneration of the nervous system in Alzheimer’s patients and was publicly hailed as the most critical revelation about Alzheimer’s in the last two decades by  Richard Scheller, an ex-Genentech executive. 

As of August 31st, Marc Tessier-Lavigne will be leaving his position.