Academic Black Eye: Stanford President Resigns After His Alzheimer’s Research Failed ‘Standards of Scientific Rigor’

Stanford Presidet Marc Tessier-Lavigne
Ian Tuttle/Getty

Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne announced Wednesday that he will resign after an independent review of his Alzheimer’s disease research found significant flaws, going back decades. A report said that his work had “multiple problems” and “fell below customary standards of scientific rigor.”

The review found that an important 2009 Alzheimer’s study had multiple problems” and “fell below customary standards of scientific rigor and process,” especially for a paper of such potential consequences, according to a report by the New York Times.

The Associated Press

New way of defining Alzheimer’s aims to find disease sooner (The Associated Press)

A woman with Alzheimer’s disease sits in a retirement home on October 18, 2016 in Saint Quirin, eastern France. For the second year, children with psychological difficulties meet each Tuesday the residents suffering from Alzheimer’s disease at the retirement home of the village of Saint-Quirin. / AFP / PATRICK HERTZOG / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo credit should read PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images)

The panel of scientists who conducted the review, however, refuted the most serious allegation made against Tessier-Lavigne’s work, which was that the Alzheimer’s study was the subject of an investigation that found falsified data, and that Tessier-Lavigne had covered it up.

As a result of the review, Tessier-Lavigne said he will retract a 1999 paper that appeared in the peer-reviewed journal Cell, as well as two other papers that appeared in Science in 2001.

Additionally, two other papers published in Nature, including the 2009 Alzheimer’s study, will reportedly undergo a “comprehensive correction.”

In their review, the panel of scientists also found multiple instances of images in papers that had been duplicated or spliced, but concluded that Tessier-Lavigne had not participated in the manipulation and was not aware of them at the time. As Bretbart News has previously reported, fraud in Alzheimer’s research has been a considerable problem.

While this research had been published before Tessier-Lavigne arrived at Stanford in 2016, the results of the review nonetheless damages the reputation of the university, which is known for being a leader in scientific research.

“I expect there may be ongoing discussion about the report and its conclusions, at least in the near term, which could lead to debate about my ability to lead the university into the new academic year,” Tessier-Lavigne said in a statement.

Tessier-Lavigne is set to officially resign from president of the university in August. He will, however, remain at Stanford as a biology professor.

Meanwhile, Stanford has chosen Richard Saller, a professor of European studies, to be the university’s interim president, starting September 1.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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