Prominent Cell Biologist Fired After Data Manipulation Investigation

The University of Tokyo confirmed last August that Yoshinori Watanabe tampered with research-related images, and dismissed him in late April.

Apr 30, 2018
Shawna Williams

Building at the University of TokyoFLICKR, CHAO-WEI JUANA University of Tokyo scientist known for his work on cell division has been fired, Retraction Watch reports. The university announced the “disciplinary dismissal” in a statement released on April 27.

The university began investigating Yoshinori Watanabe in August 2016 and released its findings a year later. According to an August 2017 article in Science, the investigating committee found five papers in which Watanabe’s group had falsified images and graphs. Of the affected papers, two appeared in Nature, two in Science, and one in EMBO Reports. (One of the Science publications has since been retracted.) But the committee recommended that disciplinary actions not be taken until it had completed its review of other papers.

See “Investigation Finds Cell Biologist Guilty of Misconduct

Reporting on the same committee findings, Nature noted at the time that image enhancement was commonplace in Watanabe’s lab and that he taught trainees how to make the alterations. All of the members of the lab had already left before the findings were released, according to the publication, and a major research grant to Watanabe had been suspended.