The President of Stanford University Resigns Following Review of Research Papers
**President Marc Tessier-Lavigne to Resign Amidst Review**
In an announcement made on Wednesday, President Marc Tessier-Lavigne of Stanford University revealed that he will be stepping down from his position on August 31. This decision came in light of an independent review conducted by the board of trustees, which investigated allegations of research misconduct and unethical conduct related to his research and papers.
**Review Unearths Flaws in Research Papers**
Although the review cleared Tessier-Lavigne of research misconduct, it did identify flaws in some of the papers he authored. The review specifically assessed twelve papers, with Tessier-Lavigne being the principal author in five of them. While he claimed to have firmly believed in the accuracy of the data presented in his papers, he acknowledged that he should have taken more diligent steps to address any issues that arose. As a result, he plans to retract three of the papers and correct two others.
**Origins of the Misconduct Allegations**
The allegations of misconduct regarding Tessier-Lavigne’s work were initially brought to light on PubPeer, an online platform where members of the scientific community can discuss research papers. The panel conducting the review discredited the most serious allegations, which accused Tessier-Lavigne of fraud in relation to a 2009 paper published in the scientific journal Nature. The panel clarified that there was no investigation into this paper and no evidence of fraud was found. They also highlighted that the paper proposed a model of neurodegeneration that could greatly contribute to Alzheimer’s disease research and therapy.
However, the review did acknowledge multiple problems with the paper, citing a lack of rigor in its development and various errors and shortcomings in the research and its presentation. Importantly, the panel did not find any evidence to suggest that Tessier-Lavigne was aware of the lack of rigor in the paper.
**Responsibility of Lab Culture and Oversight**
H. Holden Thorp, editor-in-chief of the Science family of journals, emphasized that while Tessier-Lavigne has been cleared of any direct research misconduct, the responsibility ultimately lies with the boss. He pointed out that the report identified issues with lab culture, emphasizing the need for improved oversight and management. This finding highlights the important role that laboratory personnel play in scientific research.
**Tessier-Lavigne’s Decision to Step Down**
Tessier-Lavigne cited the ongoing debate surrounding his ability to effectively lead the university as the reason for his decision to step down. He expressed his intention to continue contributing to the field of research as a biology professor and to pursue his studies on brain development and neurodegeneration. As of September 1, Richard Saller, a classics professor, has been appointed as the interim president.
**Impact of Tessier-Lavigne’s Tenure**
Despite the controversy, Tessier-Lavigne’s tenure as president of Stanford University has seen significant achievements. Under his leadership, the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, the university’s first new school in 70 years, was established. Additionally, he unveiled a strategic long-range plan in 2019 that will continue to guide the university’s growth.
In conclusion, Tessier-Lavigne’s resignation follows an independent review that cleared him of research misconduct but highlighted flaws in some of his research papers. The debate surrounding his ability to lead the university contributed to his decision to step down. Despite the controversy, his tenure has led to significant developments and accomplishments within Stanford University.