Do You Believe in STAP Stem Cells: Poll #9


  1. J Cell Biochem. 2001;80(3):455-60.
    Identification and initial characterization of spore-like cells in adult mammals.
    Vacanti MP 1, Roy A, Cortiella J, Bonassar L, Vacanti CA.
    1Center for Tissue Engineering, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Avenue, Worcester, MA 01655, USA.;2-Z/abstract

    Upper 5 tissue images of Fig.1a of this article are identical to copyrighted images of “BodyWorks Version 5” CD.

    Compare the following Fig.1’s images and BodyWorks CD’s images

    Fig.1’s images ( J. Cell. Biochem., 80 (2001)) :

    BodyWorks CD’s images (thumbnail)
    Spinal Cord:
    “(c) 1993 – 1995 SoftKey Multimedia Inc, a subsidiary of SoftKey International Inc, all rights reserved.”

    “BodyWorks Version 5”

  2. Three additional members of the Riken committee investigating the Obokata et al. paper are alleged themselves to have committed inappropriate alteration of images: Drs. Shinkai, Taga, and Koskei.

    Since the chair. Dr. Ishii, previously expressed his intention to resign over similar allegations, this leaves only one scientist committee member and the compliance guy as unaffected, of the original six (I believe) members of the investigating committee.

    If a scriptwriter had made up this scenario it probably would have been rejected as too implausible, but this is all happening in real life,

  3. According to a report in the Asahi Shinbun newspaper (in Japanese, free registration required to see whole story), Dr. Taga’s university (he is the vice president), the Tokyo Medical and Dental University, has already completed an investigation, and announced that there was copying-and-pasting of images and also stretching of images, but no improper conduct.;iref=comkiji_txt_end_s_kjid_DA3S11116838
    This is remarkable speed–the verdict was announced only two days after the allegations surfaced.

    Dr. Taga’s university appears to have much laxer standards than, say, The Journal of Cell Biology which said: “No specific feature within an image may be enhanced, obscured, moved, removed, or introduced. The grouping of images from different parts of the same gel, or from different gels, fields, or exposures must be made explicit by the arrangement of the figure (e.g., using dividing lines) and in the text of the figure legend. Adjustments of brightness, contrast, or color balance are acceptable if they are applied to the whole image and as long as they do not obscure or eliminate any information present in the original. Nonlinear adjustments (e.g., changes to gamma settings) must be disclosed in the figure legend.”

    This isn’t my field (I’m a seismologist), but if workers in one field in Japan deviate greatly from the global standard it can have an adverse impact on how work by researchers in other fields in Japan (e.g., mine) is viewed by researchers in other countries.

    Speculating a little bit, if Dr. Taga’s acquittal is accepted by Riken then he can stay on the Riken committee investigating Obokata et al., but if the Riken investigation finds her guilty of fraud and Riken then fires her, the attorney’s for Riken may have a tough time explaining the day-and-night difference between how he and she were treated to the judges in a court of law.

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