January 18, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

Yoshiki Sasai

3 min read

Once upon a time this blog and major outlets around the world were regularly writing about a Japanese stem cell researcher named Haruko Obokata (小保方 晴子). Whatever happened to Obokata and the other folks directly involved in STAP cell research? First, a bit of background because maybe still a few people never heard of STAP cells and Obokata or forgot the key points behind the controversy. Haruko Obokata became well known because of her research claiming to make pluripotent stem cells like IPS cells without …Read More

3 min read

Remember when the Piero Anversa situation first made news or at least when you first heard about it? In the public domain, it was back around April 2014. I didn’t even do a whole post on it, but rather it made two bullet points in a post about a set of bad overall news including the latest at the time on the growing mess from STAP cells.  However, clearly there were concerns about this Anversa thing well before 2014. What took so long? In my 2014 post here …Read More

2 min read

The Japanese public broadcasting system, NHK, has been accused by scientist Haruko Obokata of violating her human rights. Obokata was the primary researcher involved in the STAP cell fiasco in which two ultimately retracted Nature papers contained duplicated, plagiarized, and manipulated data. She was certainly not the only researcher on those papers, but overall she has been accused of having the most central role in the STAP problems. Obokata left RIKEN late in 2014. During the height of the STAP cell mess the Japanese …Read More

3 min read

The Japanese research institute RIKEN has come full circle in a way on the STAP cell scandal. Note that the STAP papers included not only authors from RIKEN, but also from Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. With its final report released today (also a powerpoint of images were released including the one showing a figure posted here of reportedly made up data published in a STAP paper), RIKEN seems to now have handled this complicated mess in a relatively rigorous, scientific manner that …Read More

2 min read

When I asked the readers of this blog what they felt was the biggest stem cell story of 2014 in a poll, they overwhelmingly picked the STAP cell scandal. For background on STAP you can toggle through the many STAP cell pieces on this blog here, see a STAP timeline, and a STAP image gallery. Basically, STAP was a bogus scientific claim about a supposedly simple reprogramming method to make powerful stem cells induced by cellular stress. Despite many flaws in this STAP research and the …Read More

3 min read

The STAP cell mess that began in January of this year has in some ways quieted down. In a broader sense, I believe that STAP is now and will be in the future viewed as a scandal that revealed some less than ideal aspects to the world of biomedical science and publishing. Where does this all stand today? A New STAP-Like Paper? The most recent development is the publication of a new paper pointed out by a number of people to me as perhaps STAP-like. …Read More

2 min read

The reviews of a STAP paper submitted to and rejected by the journal Science in 2012 were posted at Retraction Watch yesterday. They filled in some gaps in the puzzle of the series of events that led to such flawed science being published in Nature in January 2014, but the reviews also raised more questions. Today, more STAP paper reviews have surfaced. ScienceInsider posted a piece with additional STAP paper reviews with these coming from Nature reviewers commenting on what would later become accepted and published by Nature only months later …Read More

4 min read

Before the two STAP cell papers were published in Nature in January of 2014, much of the same data was reportedly submitted as single papers to other high-profile journals including Science. In these cases, the proto-STAP papers as we might call them were rejected. But why? Until now we largely could only speculate. However, the reviews of the 2012 proto-STAP manuscript at Science can now be read at Retraction Watch. As a result of reading the Science reviews, today we know what the reviewers at Science thought …Read More

8 min read

By Zubin Master Scientist Yoshiki Sasai, age 52, committed suicide and was found dead on August 5, 2014. Sasai was deputy director of the Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) at RIKEN in Kobe, Japan, and coauthor on two recently retracted Nature papers about a reportedly easier way to make induced pluripotent stem cells. The papers were retracted due to duplication and manipulation of images done by the main researcher and lead author on the two papers – Haruko Obokata. Although cleared of any direct …Read More