SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – The president of Stanford University said Wednesday he would resign, citing an independent review that cleared him of research misconduct but found flaws in several papers he wrote.
Marc Tessier-Lavigne said in a statement to students and staff that he would resign on August 31.
The resignation comes after the board of trustees launched a review the following December allegations that he was committing fraud and other unethical behavior related to his research and papers.
He says that he “did not submit a scientific paper without firmly believing that the data were accurate and presented accurately.” But he says he should be more diligent in seeking corrections for his work.
The review assessed 12 papers Tessier-Lavigne worked on, five of which he is the lead author of. He said he was aware of issues with four of the five papers but admitted he had taken “inadequate” steps to deal with the issues. He said he will withdraw three of the papers and correct a couple.
The panel reviewed a dozen scientific papers on which Tessier-Lavigne is listed as a co-author after allegations of misconduct were aired on PubPeer, a website where members of the scientific community can raise questions or concerns about scientific publications, the report said.
The panel informed him of the most serious allegations, that a 2009 paper published in the scientific journal Nature was the subject of a fraud investigation and fraud was found. No investigation was conducted and no fraud was found, the panel ruled. The paper suggested a model of neurodegeneration, which could have great potential for Alzheimer’s disease research and therapy, the panel wrote in its report.
But the panel also concluded that the paper had numerous problems, including a lack of rigor in its development and that there were “various errors and omissions” in the paper’s research and presentation. The panel found no evidence that Tessier-Lavigne was aware of the lack of severity.
Tessier-Lavigne says he is resigning because he expects continued debate about his ability to lead the university. He will remain on the faculty as a professor of biology. He also said he would continue his research into brain development and neurodegeneration.
The board named Richard Saller as interim president beginning Sept. 1, said board chairman Jerry Yang.
In a statement, Yang said Tessier-Lavigne was instrumental in creating the university’s first new school in 70 years, the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, and in 2019, he unveiled a long-range strategic plan that will continue to guide the university’s growth.
Tessier-Lavigne has been president for almost seven years.