After learning of concerns that two figures are “very similar” and “some of the error bars look unevenly positioned,” the rest of the authors were unable to locate the raw data, according to the note. The journal could not reach Obokata for comment before publishing the retraction.
Sources in the scientific community confirm that early versions of the STAP work were rejected by Science, Cell, and Nature.
Parts of those reviews reviews have surfaced, notably in a RIKEN report. Science‘s news section reported:
For the Cell submission, there were concerns about methodology and the lack of supporting evidence for the extraordinary claims, says [stem cell scientist Hans] Schöler, who reviewed the paper and, as is standard practice at Cell, saw the comments of other reviewers for the journal. At Science, according to the 8 May RIKEN investigative committee’s report, one reviewer spotted the problem with lanes being improperly spliced into gel images. “This figure has been reconstructed,” the RIKEN report quotes from the feedback provided by a Science reviewer. The committee writes that the “lane 3” mentioned by the Science reviewer is probably the lane 3 shown in Figure 1i in the Nature article. The investigative committee report says [co-author Haruko] Obokata told the committee that she did not carefully consider the comments of the Science reviewer.
Charles Vacanti, a Harvard anesthesiologist and stem cell pioneer whose name appeared on both retracted STAP stem cell papers, is giving up his post as chair of anesthesiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and taking a year-long sabbatical.
A significant chapter of the nearly six-month saga of the STAP stem cell controversy has come to an end, with Nature running retraction notices for the two papers involved. The journal has also published an editorial about the case that’s worth a read.
Last month we wrote that Haruko Obokata, the Japanese stem cell researcher whose work is under a cloud of suspicion, had agreed to call for the retraction of one of two disputedNaturepapers about her findings. Now Reuters is reporting that Obokata will ask for the second article to be pulled, as well (one of the articles was a research letter).
Waseda University in Japan says it will be vetting every doctoral dissertation it awards its graduate-level students in Advanced Science & Engineering* for signs of plagiarism, according to a report in the Japan News, a site of the Yomiuri Shimbun. The paper reports that: