Is Moriguchi a tip of an iceberg for ethical problems in science? How many Moriguchi Jr’s are out there?

tip of the icebergThe big scandal about alleged, later mostly recanted transplants of iPS cells (for more on iPS cells see here) into human patients centered on one fellow named Hisashi Moriguchi.

For more on the case see here.

Clearly Moriguchi is to blame for his lies. The paper Yomiuri is also to blame for splashing the unverified story across the front page of its paper, the largest newspaper in the world.

However, does the Moriguchi case say something about more systemic problems in science today around the world including right here in the U.S.?

Moriguchi has been largely dismissed by many stem cell bigwigs as just an isolated troublemaker who should be forgotten as quickly as possible. Just sweep it under the carpet they said basically.

However, privately what some other scientists (who I believe are very wise) have told me is that in their opinion the Moriguchi case is just the tip of the iceberg for problems in biomedical sciences.

I’ve covered taboo topics about iPS cells before and about science more generally too in my Elephant in the Lab Series and my not entirely completed “Seven Sins of Scientists” series.

Are scientists ready for frank discussions about problems such as those I have outlined in those series above, but also raised by Moriguchi: what constitutes authorship, how posters and talks are screened for meetings, group think, and why scandals happen in science?

Can we be proactive instead of reactive?

It’s easy to pig pile on one bad actor like Moriguchi, but the reality is there are more systemic problems and I believe many, perhaps hundreds of “Moriguchi Jr’s”, are out there…..what are we going to do?