Ethics: ORI Case Summary of Ryousuke Fujita

ORI is the Office of Research Integrity and is under the US Department of Health & Human Services. Here I want to share one of their cases regarding misconduct in research by Dr. Ryousuke Fujita, a former Postdoctoral Scientist in Taub Institute for the Aging Brain in Columbia University Medical Center.

Dr. Fujita is found to engage in research misconduct by falsifying and fabricating data in 74 panels included in figures in two publications (Cell 2011; Nature 2013) and one unpublished manuscript. He inflated sample numbers and data, fabricated numbers for data sets, manipulated data analysis, mislabelled images, and manipulated and reused images. Then ORI listed specifically the details of how Dr. Fujita engaged in the above research misconduct.

The punishment for Dr. Fujita is that he has entered into a Voluntary Exclusion Agreement that for a period of three years (beginning on March 18, 2015), he will exclude himself from any contracting or subcontracting with any agency of the United States Government and from eligibility for or involvement in nonprocurement programs of the US Government, and exclude himself from serving in any advisory capacity to the US Public Health Service (PHS) such as serve on any PHS advisory committee, board, peer review committee, or as a consultant.


74 Panels in only three papers! I wonder how the editors let him do this under their eyes. And the journals are so high-impact: Nature! Cell! And also the university he was from, Columbia University, is always a decent school in my mind. This just inevitably reminds me of another high-impact journal faker: Haruko Obokata. She published two papers on Nature in one day early 2014, claiming that she has developed a radical and remarkably easy way to make STAP cells that could be grown into tissue for use anywhere in the body — which is really a big deal in biology field. But she then was widely questioned by biological scientists in US and was investigated by her institution. Under supervision, she never succeeded in making the cells again.

I brought this up because these two cases really taught me how much it can cost to misconduct research, especially when you are in a renowned institution, and you published something on a high-impact journal. One step wrong could ruin your life. We should make right choices.

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