February 21, 2024

18-Year-Old Science Reporting Causes Stanford President to Retire : ScienceAlert

Within months of starting his undergraduate degree at Stanford University, 18-year-old Theo Baker was already looking for a story to inspire him. the youngest George Polk award winner in the history of American journalism.

A reporting for The Stanford Daily The resignation of Stanford President: neuroscientist and billionaire Marc Tessier-Lavigne is now a highlight.

It all started in Baker’s freshman year when he noticed researchers online debating whether Tessier-Lavigne’s scientific papers contained manipulated images.

Baker turned to experts for answers.

“Ultimately, most of them were too scared of Marc Tessier-Lavigne to go on the record,” he said. said on the Longform podcast in April.

“But Elizabeth Bik, who is the world’s leading expert on image manipulation in scientific imaging, and a wonderful woman, worked closely with me and was able to go through these papers and walk me through it all.”

Along with two other misconduct researchers, Baker and Blik exposed a trail of changing results in Tessier-Lavigne’s laboratories, covering three different institutions over the last twenty years.

At this point, there is no evidence that Tessier-Lavigne himself intentionally manipulated any images in his papers – Baker himself. say he doubts that this is the case.

But the fact demands that these errors existed under the watch of the neurologist and that they were not corrected suspiciously. It suggests, at the very least, poor management practice.

“He’s just one person in one lab going rogue. He seems to be from different periods of his life, when he used to be at different labs, at UCSF, at Genentech,” Bik tell NBC News, following Tessier-Lavigne’s resignation.

As far back as 2001, Bik recognized Papers authored by Tessier-Lavigne she says show deliberate photoshopping of the results.

One of the most significant allegations relates to a landmark study on Alzheimer’s disease, published in 2009 by Nature, who claimed to have found a possible cause for brain degeneration.

This paper came from Tessier-Lavigne’s lab at the biotechnology company Genentech, but the results could never be replicated.

Some researchers at Genentech tell Baker that the company had an internal investigation and found falsification of data. But Tessier-Lavigne and Genentech denied this review ever happened.

The paper is still there which was not withdrawn.

In light of Baker’s reporting, Stanford University opened its own internal investigation into the matter. Panel of scientists completed that Tessier-Lavigne’s work contained image manipulations in 2001, the early 2010s, 2015-2016, and 2021.

But the panel dismissed any allegations of fraud or misconduct on the part of Tessier-Lavigne herself. Instead, they conclusion that the “unusual frequency of manipulation of research data” ​​in the laboratory of the neurologist “that there may be opportunities to improve the supervision and management of the laboratory”.

To this day, Tessier-Lavigne denies any “fraud or falsification of scientific data”. In a statement about his resignation, he says he regrets putting too much trust in his students.

Neuroscientist Matthew Schrag, who pointed out several flaws in Tessier-Lavigne’s 2009 paper, tell The New York Times that in a busy laboratory it is sometimes difficult to verify every piece of data produced by junior researchers, but that the “accumulation of problems” under Tessier-Lavigne’s watch “rises to a level that requires some supervision”.

There is Tessier-Lavigne at least five of his papers are now expected to be withdrawnas reported by Baker at The Daily.

“I’m sure Marc Tessier-Lavigne had a dream more than once,” Baker admitted on the Longform podcast.

“It’s the last thing I think about when I go to sleep. And the first thing on my mind when I wake up… It’s very stressful… First of all, this is somebody who deserves respect… And second, he’s leading my own community.”

No more.

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