More on Moriguchi: bogus iPS cell transplant poster guy

The fellow at the center of what appears to be a made up story about iPS cell transplantation into humans is named Hisashi Moriguchi.

Two new articles in the Japanese media support the notion that he has made the whole iPS cell transplant story up: here and here.

Most people I’ve talked to in the stem cell field have not heard of him before.

Who is this guy? What’s his history in science?

While it seemed he might be a physician or a PhD, the latest evidence suggests he may only have a nursing degree.

At some point it appears Mr. Moriguchi was listed as an associate professor at University of Tokyo, but that website has been taken down. Here is a cache of the page though which is fascinating reading…if you know Japanese or have a good translator.

He had some kind of training position or visiting position at Harvard ending in 2000, but has invoked his old Harvard connection in recent years including as I first reported on two 2012 papers claiming Harvard IRB approval that Harvard says is false.

According to a commenter on this blog (Markus07), Moriguchi was interviewed on Japanese TV and the interview did not go well:

yesterday on NHK (main Japanese national channel) was interview with Moriguchi. Reporters just ask few questions – if he really was in US and study at Harvard – show us passport and visa – he did not response. After that asked if is true that he is not a physician – he did not answer. Asked basic questions about what IPS cell is – he did not answer clearly.. Assumption was – if he knows what he is talking about…all this interview put him in very bad light.

This appears to be a case of one man causing a lot of trouble with a story that does add up.

Key remaining questions….

Did he submit this transplant abstract to the NYSCF meeting and it was accepted or did he change his poster/abstract to capitalize on Yamanaka’s Nobel Prize?

In either case, why the heck did he do this?

4 Comments


  1. The Mainichi says they were offered the story in September, ahead of Yamanaka’s Nobel win:

    “In early September this year, Moriguchi e-mailed a reporter at the Mainichi’s Osaka office regarding his ‘world-first clinical application of iPS cells.’

    “‘Treatment of serious heart defects with heart muscle cells derived from iPS cells was more successful than anticipated,’ Moriguchi wrote. ‘I will announce the results soon in a paper and at an academic society.’

    “The reporter, who had interviewed Moriguchi in the past, met with him in mid-September to follow up on the story. At the meeting, Moriguchi explained how he had made a large number of heart muscle cells from iPS cells, the course of the clinical study and the surgery at MGH. He also claimed the study had been cleared by Harvard University’s ethics committee for reasons such as the patients and their families desiring the treatment, the patients having serious symptoms, and a lack of other treatment options.

    “The reporter became suspicious of Moriguchi’s story when, sometime after the initial meeting, the reporter called Moriguchi for details on the ethics committee’s clearance. Moriguchi said he was cleared through a ‘process different from usual.’ When the reporter pressed him for the identities of ethic committee members as well as the committee’s contact information and that of MGH, Moriguchi only gave vague responses and complained, ‘This is getting to be a chore.’

    “The reporter notified a superior of Moriguchi’s suspicious behavior and decided not to write an article unless sound confirmation could be obtained. In late September, Moriguchi contacted the Mainichi’s Tokyo office again asking for coverage, but as a number of points could again not be confirmed, no article was written.”

    (Someone at the Mainichi nevertheless ended up approving a wire service report of Moriguchi’s initial claim for their site and this had to be hastily removed).


  2. Moriguchi apparently is a fraud and seems like he has been for some time. But, as embarrassing an episode this is, I’ve started to feel a little sorry for this guy. As you wrote, he had never been a well-known researcher in the field. Who knows what his motivations were, but he might have found small satisfaction in seeing his name appearing on newspaper articles several times and seeing his name associated with University of Tokyo and Harvard. Intentionally or unintentionally, he gave an impression of having his research published on Nature and Lancet by sending his commentaries to them. Now that this has become a big story, Japanese media are starting lynching of him, reporting what kind of apartment he lives, comments by his landlord and a neighbor and such. As frauds are concerned, I find it far more problematic when they were committed by people with more credibility and influences. (Think Marc Hauser, Luk Van Parijs, Hendrik Schön, etc.)

    Just one correction. Moriguchi did indeed seem to have earned a doctoral degree. There is a record (in Japanese) http://repository.dl.itc.u-tokyo.ac.jp/dspace/handle/2261/42891. There are people who say Moriguchi did some work on medical statistics.

    In any case, Moriguchi probably has nerver been a serious experimental researcher in this field. He does not have a lab and his co-authors are denying their involvements in the research papers he published. His 2012 paper in Scientific Reports (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3406338/) is already under suspicion by people who took their time to read it. An image seemingly identical to the Figure 1 can be found on the following site: http://www.ivfnewmexico.com/lab-services.html. The Figure 2 seems like a classic example of photoshopping (See pic.twitter.com/aF6MY1qU).

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