Wednesday, April 9, 2014

At Last Dr. Obokata Spoke

At last, Dr. Obokata spoke before the media for two and a half hours.  She said she has succeeded with the STAP cell experiment more than 200 times and had no malicious intent in producing data. She has confirmed that one other person succeeded in reproducing STAP cell but she didn’t name the person.  

Why that person does not come forward and tell Riken and the world about the successful result?  Why Dr. Sasai is the only person who’s been defending Dr. Obokata?  What’s happening to the rest of her colleagues and co-authors of the STAP papers? That’s a mystery. I hope to find out later.

This afternoon, I talked with a female medical doctor about this issue.  She told me that Science communities in Japan are men’s world, and Riken is notorious in producing high suicide rates.  Wow.  I didn’t know that.  But generally it’s tough for women to head a team of men.  I say this out of my experience.

This evening, Asahi Shimbun reported that Riken agreed to set up a committee to guide their researchers so that future misconducts would be avoided.  The government has been on Riken’s back on this issue.  Good for them.


ZACL said...

I do not really know what is going on here, though it is interesting that this polemic immediately follows on from your Women's Day post.

Photographs alone would not and should not constitute 'sloppy' providing they are relevant to the research. Where they are presented in the written material might be the issue. If that were to be the case, it would be a case of ignoring presentational protocols. Even they vary to a greater or lesser degree. It might also be that approval for presenting photographic material was not sought. Even so, I ask, what is the issue?

Is the rest of the work internationally acceptable and accepted? Is this a 'scapegoating' exercise?

There is so much I do not know or understand about this case, it is not straightforward to make a defined comment.

The Captcha's are improving...hope I am not speaking too soon! :)

keiko amano said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
keiko amano said...

Thank you, ZACL, for comment.

I've been reading all the news about this issue, but I'm still unsure of what kind of cut and paste she had done that caused Riken to conclude as a malicious update.

She is not telling some detail in order to have successful experiments. She said that would be a part of next project. This is my concern. I think the instructions must include all the detail needed for experiments. Otherwise, probably nobody can follow. She didn't name the person, but she said someone other than herself was successful in creating STAP cell.

There must be a lot more people not telling for various reasons. But generally speaking, both questions and replies could have been more precise. For example, Riken complained she presented to them only two laboratory notebooks which they claimed too little for her three year work. Dr. Obokata replied that she has four or five notebooks, but she had two at the time when Riken asked for it.

If I were the interviewer, I would have asked if that was all she had written, if they knew two means too little. Also, when she replied she had four or five notebooks, I would ask her if the two were included in the four or five. If I were her, I would have replied, "I have four or five plus those two," or” I have total of four or five." Moreover I would remember exact number of my important notebooks. If the fifth notebook was perhaps incomplete, then four is better choice to answer.

That kind of vague questions and answers create frustration to all of us. Even the lawyer at the conference was not very commanding. He let the meeting go by having many people ask similar questions. Two and a half hours was too long.