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Riken panel dismisses ground-breaking stem cell study

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"Riken panel dismisses ground-breaking stem cell study"

Meaningless. Everyone, every single person except those at Riken already dismissed the study when it was first revealed by foreign media as completely fabricated and baseless, several months ago.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Well it's not groundbreaking, then, is it?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

She has received every advantage and every favor possible, from the scientific community to the media, just like a spoiled little kid. I'm sure Riken knows she deliberately faked the research and then lied about it, and Riken is still going easy on her with this mild statement.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

'...failure marked a stunning fall from grace for 31-year-old Haruko Obokata...'

One of the greatest problems in our era is the poor tolerance for failure. All great innovations have a history of great risk taking and the upside can be an of enormous benefit to the community.

Success includes a chance of failure and our lack of tolerance for failure has lead to little or no risk taking. The outcome is less innovation in our era.

This young woman should be pitied. As all around her is modelled low risk taking with an unrealistic demand for success based on monthly and yearly profit on spreadsheets.

This decision says more about tolerance for risk taking in the Riken institute and Government, than it does for Haruko Obokata's fall from grace.

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

One of the greatest problems in our era is the poor tolerance for failure.

There is, however, a difference between failure and fraud.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Think of all the mistakes, failures that have lead to groundbreaking discoveries. I fault the media and Riken for pushing her into the limelight too early. They want women in sciences ( or do they?) and saw this as an opportunity to push things. That's my take anyway.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

In my opinion from the very beginning of announcement Obokata was set up due to heavy influences of big pharmacy corporations. The dust will settle and then once they figure out how to profit from this research a new discovery will be made. If they would allow researchers the time rather than pressure them via spreadsheets for results a better job can be done that benefits everyone. Sometimes patience goes along way and time is what is required when researching something as sensitive as S research. Bribes to special outside sources could have very well be bought long in advance.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Riken was and the co writters were happy to take the lime light but they all jumped out and left her to wolves when it went belly up. They are all scum

5 ( +8 / -3 )

One of the greatest problems in our era is the poor tolerance for failure.

I disagree...I think it's in part the fault of the media, the 'instant superstar' status bestowed on people uncritically, and the hasty and sloppy way this research was publicized. Nature was wrong to publish a paper so hastily without checking it (not the first time for them, see Andrew Wakefield's now-discredited paper linking the MMR with autism, based on 8 (8!) cases). The media was irresponsible in making Obokata a 'star' overnight...TV was saturated with stories about her for weeks, and she was a willing participant. The anger at her possibly faking her results is in direct proportion to the degree she was pushed on the public as the next genius researcher, symbol of Japanese womanhood.

"In my opinion from the very beginning of announcement Obokata was set up due to heavy influences of big pharmacy corporations."

Why set up someone who could make you a fortune? Why can't you just believe that either:

Her research methods were so faulty that she contaminated the cell line or this was a scam from the start

because it was one of these two things and nothing more.

It should have been checked properly. The time to do the DNA tests on the cell line was BEFORE the paper was published.

Riken was and the co writters were happy to take the lime light but they all jumped out and left her to wolves when it went belly up. They are all scum.

Well, yes. If you had reason to believe that one of your workers has made a breakthrough, you'll be proud and celebrate. Although they should have checked her paper, no facility should have to sit over their researcher's shoulders so make sure they don't commit fraud. If she faked the data, then yes, it is SHE who should take the heat, of course! If her data is faked, she lied to everyone. Her boss killed himself over it! His wife and kids no longer have a husband and father...she has set back the image of women in science decades, she has been quite destructive, and you want Riken to baby her?

It's dismaying that people are willing to bend the truth to an unbelievable degree if the perpetrator of fraud is female and young.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

"the photogenic Obokata"

Yep. That pretty much tells where the importance lies. To even include such a sentence... sigh.

Whatever the case... cute japan needs much time before it can stand tall as un-cute respectable on the merit of the work.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

There are many things that we don't know about this, but her role is not accidental nor it seems like a simple misinterpretation of results so she has to assume heavy responsibility.

First weird figures were found, then the details of the methods were wrong, replication of results impossible, "secret" methodology not disclosed and finally manipulation of the experiments with ES. One problem is understandable but all of them on the same study point much more surely to intent to deceive.

Detecting a purposeful manipulation is much more difficult than checking for carelessness or bad laboratory practice because there must be a certain degree of trust between researchers (its impossible to do research with someone who you do not trust at some degree) so it is quite understandable that the co-authors feel like victims in this case. Nevertheless, her supervisors should also share a lot of the consequences because it was their responsibility to ensure that this kind of scandal did not happen, either they were lazy or they did not have the capacity to check her work as they should. And the journal that accepted the manuscript also had a quite strong failure on their peer review process.

So, in all appearances she does not seems to be just a victim of bad luck and should deal with strong consequences, but her supervisors and the journal should also share them because they also failed to do their work properly.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"...but they all jumped out and left her to wolves when it went belly up. They are all scum."

Absolute nonsense. They have given her plenty of chances to explain herself and redeem herself. Riken gave her several extra months to prove her dubious assertions, providing her free access to lab facilities and other key support. The Riken officials have waiting patiently and quietly on the sidelines in the hope she can come up with the goods. The problem is, she can't.

The people on this thread supporting her have been watching too many Oliver Stone movies. Sorry, folks, this ain't a Hollywood fantasy.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Nope, then it's not ground breaking.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I agree that Obokata had plenty of chances to redeem herself, the last of which seems to indicate clearly that her original reports -- which involved a lot of plagiarism -- were false. But, that does NOT excuse Riken from shouldering a large part of the blame for this scandal. THEY were the ones who trumpeted the discovery and bragged and patted themselves on the back for the woman's accomplishment before it had been fully vetted. I still remember many people here bragging about it, as usual as though they themselves had been a part, when the subject first aired and how amazing Japan was and all that. Those people were the first to attack her, out of embarrassment over their bragging publicly, while not even taking into account they should not have been bragging about it to begin with.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

(I was mistaken....Wakefield's work was published in the Lancet)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It would be good to hear more about her history; we know she fabricated and plagiarized in her graduate thesis. She may be a habitual cheat or liar, or at least a fantasist. It would make a great movie one day.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I most definitely agree with some that (especially in Japan) there is a very low tolerance for failure, HOWEVER, that is mostly media-frenzied and not the talk of the actual people in question (eg. Asada Mao doesn't smack talk the competition).

In this case, Okada had every chance and was given very gracious terms to pull her work/redo parts/re-evaluate but has stubbornly claimed she made no mistake. Furthermore,

"She claimed there was a secret knack for creating STAP cells, but has refused to publicise it, asserting it is a subject of her future papers."

That is simply not how science is done. If she threw the "secret knack" out there 1) no one would deny her credit...she might even win a Nobel; 2) it would have saved her career; 3) saved Japan's reputation internationally; and 4) She would have been set for life researching this wherever she wanted. This would be THAT important for science.

There is no logical reason, such as "saving it for a paper later on" to keep this information secret if it were true, or to claim "Oh it works I'm just not telling how"

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Other news has said that they have found tested and found embryonic stem cells mixed in and that is likely what resulted in the success the first time around (something like that), and also that they have found more plagiarism in her original work. Can't wait to point this out to this one old codger who for a few weeks kept bragging about how Japanese science had solved the stem-cell dilemma the West had over using frozen embryos!

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

The study was top news in Japan, where the photogenic Obokata, a Harvard-trained scientist, became a phenomenon.

"...where the photogenic Obokata..."

And the point of this comment is??!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Can't wait to point this out to this one old codger who for a few weeks kept bragging about how Japanese science had solved the stem-cell dilemma the West had over using frozen embryos!

And he would most likely point out that Obokata is not the only Japanese doing something about stem cells, Shinya Yamanaka's iPSCs are also obtained from adult cells.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Himajin I understand the context of your comment.

I wrote in part earlier:

'One of the greatest problems in our era is the poor tolerance for failure...'

Himajin wrote;

" ...I disagree...I think it's in part the fault of the media, the 'instant superstar' status bestowed on people uncritically'

Which is true, not in dispute but part of the context of my comment.

The righteous indignation attacking Haruko Obokata has highlighted to pressure for genuine innovation without the necessary investment of profit back into innovation. The innovation cycle is broken. She is a victim of poor corporate culture and leadership.

Denigrating Haruko Obokata, highlighting her failure and apparent deception is as a effective as handing out speeding fines at an F1 Race.

That is the corporate business arena. Where it is common practice to deceive, shareholders, partners, financiers and the public.

What better example is the relationship between TEPCO executive and the Government?

Haruko Obokata is nothing but a public scapegoat...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If she mixed two cell lines on purpose, it's fraud.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

5 Good Bad

JeffLeeDec. 27, 2014 - 11:17AM JST

"...but they all jumped out and left her to wolves when it went belly up. They are all scum."

Absolute nonsense. They have given her plenty of chances to explain herself and redeem herself. Riken gave her several extra months to prove her dubious assertions, providing her free access to lab facilities and other key support. The Riken officials have waiting patiently and quietly on the sidelines in the hope she can come up with the goods. The problem is, she can't.

The people on this thread supporting her have been watching too many Oliver Stone movies. Sorry, folks, this ain't a Hollywood fantasy.

Jeff, ALL scientific papers require co writers who are supposed to check and take responsibility and are never done by an individual. You are completely wrong ion this matter.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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