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Japanese university fires researchers over alleged forgery

Japanese university fires researchers over alleged forgery

Japan's most prestigious university said Wednesday it had fired a chemistry professor and his assistant for allegedly forging results from genetic research experiments.
Kazunari Taira, who specializes in life science and engineering at the University of Tokyo, was dismissed after a disciplinary panel found results contained in four papers by the researchers could not be reproduced, according to university spokesman Toyoki Kobayashi.
Taira said Wednesday he did not agree with the panel's findings and called his dismissal unfair, according to Kyodo News agency.
In papers published in the British journal Nature and elsewhere between 1998 and 2004, Taira said his research team had detailed how they successfully coaxed E. coli bacteria to produce an important human enzyme known as Dicer.
RNA, or ribonucleic acid, transmits information from DNA, the blueprint of life in cells. Using Dicer to interfere with RNA could let scientists switch off certain genes to treat diseases such as cancer or to improve agricultural crops.
However, the RNA Society of Japan was notified by researchers that efforts to duplicate the results of Taira's experiments had failed, according to the society.
Tokyo University's investigative panel was also unable to replicate the research, according to Kobayashi. Taira did not keep research notes and had destroyed samples and data, he added.
The university also dismissed Taira's assistant, Hiroaki Kawasaki, who participated in the research.
The dismissal comes after South Korean researcher Hwang Woo-suk, once hailed as a stem cell pioneer, was fired from his post as professor at Seoul National University in March after admitting he faked data in key papers.
In the papers, Hwang had claimed he created the world's first cloned human embryos and extracted stem cells from them.


Updated : 2021-05-17 19:18 GMT+08:00