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Stanford President Resigns After Failure to Address Manipulated Research

According to reporting from the Stanford Daily News on Wednesday morning, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, the president of Stanford University, is set to resign from his position following an investigation into manipulation of data.


An investigation report, also released Wednesday, the Scientific Panel found that Tessier-Lavigne was not involved in or aware of misconduct in eleven papers where he was either  a principal author or non-principal author. Nevertheless, in the five of the papers that he was a principal author, serious issues were found with presentation of data, with at least four of them having apparent manipulation of data present. 


The report also states that Teeier-Lavigne was not able to adequately explain why he did not correct the papers when presented with their issues at the time despite being given multiple opportunities to do so.


A statement released by Tessier-Lavigne said that while the investigation results cleared him of manipulation of data, he would still be stepping down as the president of the university. Tessier-Lavignealso wrote he should have done a better job addressing issues found with the papers and wanted to take responsibility for members of his lab manipulating research.


Further in the statement, Tessier-Lavigne said he will be working to have three of the papers he was the principal author on retracted. The other two  will have corrections issued for.


The official investigation into the papers started in Dec. 2022, following the release of an investigative piece from The Stanford Daily in Nov. 2022. The investigation spoke with three scientific misconduct researchers who each found issues with the paper and identified accusations as far back as seven years before the investigation.


The Stanford Board of Trustees Special Committee has retained former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip and his law firm Kirkland & Ellis to lead the review. A scientific panel of high-profile academics were also appointed to assist in the investigation.


Even before Filip or the panel were brought on board, there were some issues with the investigation, with questions about whether the board should have even been leading the investigation. The Stanford Daily discovered that Special Committee Felix Baker’s investment firm maintained a $18 million stake in biotech company Denali Therapeutics, which was founded by Tessier-Lavigne. Baker would step down from the committee after being approached with questions regarding the potential conflict of interest.


The Stanford Daily further reported that some witnesses had refused to work with the investigation with regards to a case of potential fraud involving Tessier-Lavigne after being refused anonymity. Jeffrey Flier, former Dean of Harvard Medical School, called the decision to not guarantee anonymity “extremely unusual.”


Tessier-Lavigne will officially resign effective Aug. 31. Until a new president is found, Stanford Dean of Humaniteis Richard Saller will serve as interim president.

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