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Former Stanford president retracts ‘groundbreaking’ Alzheimer’s paper

Retraction is his fourth in four months

Former Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, who resigned in July of last year after an investigation found flaws in his research, retracted a 2009 science paper formerly described as “groundbreaking.”

The prestigious science journal Nature announced the retraction in a December 18 article signed by Tessier-Lavigne (pictured), the lead author, and his three co-authors, The Stanford Daily reported.

In 2009, Tessier-Lavigne, a neuroscientist, was an executive at the biotechnology company Genentech, according to The Daily. Two days after the paper’s publication, Genentech described it to its shareholders as “groundbreaking basic research about an entirely new way of looking at the cause of Alzheimer’s disease.”

A Nature article published about the paper shortly after was titled, “Alzheimer’s theory makes a splash.”

Tessier-Lavigne told The Daily, “As with all of my papers, at the time of publication of Nature 2009, I believed the results in the paper were correct and accurately presented.”

“I absolutely believe that there are no falsified data in the paper,” he told The Daily in a subsequent email, it reported.

The retraction is Tessier-Lavigne’s fourth in four months, according to The Daily. 

Such incidents are rare, as just eight out of every 10,000 science papers are retracted, according to Retraction Watch.

The Daily reported that “two of Tessier-Lavigne’s influential neurodevelopment papers published in Science and a third published in Cell were withdrawn earlier this fall after they were found to contain manipulated images.”

“Another Tessier-Lavigne paper published in Nature was issued an expression of concern over ‘manipulation of research data’ this month, implying it will likely face correction or retraction,” according to the paper.

The investigation leading to the former president’s resignation in July determined data “were manipulated in some published scientific papers on which he was a main contributor,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

An investigative panel also stated Tessier-Lavigne “failed to decisively correct mistakes in published papers as they were uncovered and had lapses in oversight of his labs at multiple institutions,” the outlet reported.

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IMAGE: Stanford University

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