Latest updates: Stanford president under investigation for research misconduct

Stanford's president Marc Tessier Lavigne
(Graphic: MICHELLE FU/The Stanford Daily)
Updated Feb. 17, 2022 at 10:15 p.m.

University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne is under investigation for alleged research misconduct following allegations first reported in The Daily that multiple papers co-authored by the president contain altered images.

In late November, The Daily broke the news that several papers co-authored by Tessier-Lavigne allegedly contain image manipulation. The Stanford Board of Trustees opened an investigation the next day, eventually bringing a former deputy attorney generala Nobel Laureate, a former Princeton president and a former Harvard provost on board to review Tessier-Lavigne’s research.

Tessier-Lavigne maintained that the alleged image manipulations “had no bearing on the findings or conclusions” of his papers. Scientists contest that assertion. He also claimed to have had no involvement with the alleged duplications in a number of the papers – Stanford scientists pointed out that the Research Policy Handbook states “defense of minimal participation…is entirely inapplicable when one is coauthor of the disputed work.”

Science and Cell have issued Editorial Expressions of Concern for three papers for which Tessier-Lavigne is senior author.

In February 2023, several former colleagues of the University president told The Daily that a 2011 internal review of Tessier-Lavigne’s Alzheimer’s research had uncovered “falsified lab data” and that Tessier-Lavigne had opposed the review’s findings becoming public. The research had been seen as a promising target for Alzheimer’s treatment. Tessier-Lavigne denies this allegation.

Faculty senators sit in their seats looking toward the center of the room
The faculty senate at a February 2023 meeting. (Photo: HARRY GREGORY/Stanford News)
March 6, 2023, 1:36 a.m.
An email contained additional allegations about Marc Tessier-Lavigne’s Alzheimer’s research and the 2011 internal review that former colleagues allege uncovered falsification.
Tessier-Lavigne walking in Stanford's main quad
Stanford’s President Marc Tessier-Lavigne walks through Stanford’s Main Quad minutes after receiving questions for The Daily's article that was published Friday morning; he declined to be interviewed. (Photo: NIKOLAS LIEPINS/The Stanford Daily)
Feb. 17, 2023, 10:10 p.m.
Marc Tessier-Lavigne sent faculty and staff an email Friday stating that The Daily's reporting on allegations that his Alzheimer's research contained falsified data was "replete with falsehoods." Daily Editor in Chief Sam Catania ’24 said the paper stands by its reporting.
Tessier-Lavigne walking in Stanford's main quad
Stanford’s President Marc Tessier-Lavigne walks through Stanford’s Main Quad minutes after receiving questions for this article; he declined to be interviewed. (Photo: NIKOLAS LIEPINS/The Stanford Daily)
Feb. 17, 2023, 12:17 a.m.
His paper was called “the miracle result.” But it never turned into an Alzheimer’s treatment. Now, four former Genentech senior scientists and executives allege that an internal review in 2011 discovered the paper had been based on fabricated research — and that Marc Tessier-Lavigne kept the results of the review from becoming public. He denies the allegations.
A picture of the board of trustees.
The Stanford Board of Trustees, the body investigating President Marc Tessier-Lavigne’s scientific misconduct allegations. (Photo: Steve Castillo Photography)
Jan. 18, 2023, 12:42 a.m.
Renowned scientists joined the investigation into Stanford's president. The investigation has no budget cap nor a projected timeline, a spokesperson said.
Marc Tessier-Lavigne speaks at a faculty senate meeting
President Marc Tessier-Lavigne speaks at a Faculty Senate meeting. (Photo: Stanford News)
Dec. 15, 2022, 8:02 a.m.
Following another public statement by the University president, prominent research journals have signaled there may be reason to lose confidence in three papers by Tessier-Lavigne.
Marc Tessier-Lavigne speaks at graduation
President Marc Tessier-Lavigne welcomes the parents, families and graduates to a commencement ceremony. (Courtesy of L.A. Cicero)
Dec. 7, 2022, 6:28 p.m.
“This story is evolving in ways that make me question my decision to come to Stanford and SLAC to conduct my research in the first place.” Researchers criticized the special committee appointed by the Board of Trustees for lack of transparency and the committee released a statement.
President Marc Tessier-Lavigne at a faculty senate meeting
President Marc Tessier-Lavigne at a Faculty Senate meeting. (Photo courtesy of Stanford News)
Dec. 6, 2022, 12:32 a.m.
Marc Tessier-Lavigne wrote a letter to faculty taking responsibility for research with alleged image alteration bearing his name. Hours later, the journal Cell announced it would reinvestigate a paper it first examined in 2015.
Figure 1c from a 2003 Nature article. The image seems to show bands which have been duplicated and manipulated.
Courtesy of Bryon Hughson. This figure, annotated with Forensically, purports to show alteration in a 2003 Nature paper co-authored by Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne. According to Hughson “Blots in lanes 5 and 8 show unexpected similarities in luminance gradient patterns.”
Dec. 5, 2022, 1:35 a.m.
One editor of a journal urges President Tessier-Lavigne to step down as more allegations of image alteration in papers co-authored by the neuroscientist emerge and the investigation into his work is, according to experts, marred.
A collage of several figures with highlighted areas showing alleged duplications within the photos.
Annotated Figure 5 “Novel Role for Netrins in Regulating Epithelial Behavior during Lung Branching Morphogenesis,” Current Biology, 2004. Courtesy Elisabeth Bik.
Dec. 2, 2022, 6:58 p.m.
Three more papers have been identified as containing alleged image manipulation since The Daily’s first article. Stanford announced that former U.S. Attorney Carol Lam would lead its investigation, upsetting scientists who criticized the University for investigating itself rather than calling on a third party.
Marc Tessier-Lavigne speaking at a meeting
(FARRIN ABBOTT/Stanford News Service)
Nov. 30, 2022, 11:49 a.m.
The prominent research journal “apologized to the scientific community” for failing to issue any public statements on the two papers which contain alleged image manipulation.
Marc Tessier-Lavigne speaking at a meeting
(Photo: L.A. CICERO/Stanford News Service)
Nov. 30, 2022, 1:05 a.m.
As the University’s Board of Trustees works to “assess the allegations presented,” a researcher raised new concerns about “serious” issues in a journal article Tessier-Lavigne co-authored in 1999.
A stack of research paper pages with red ink over data
(Graphic: MICHELLE FU/The Stanford Daily)
Nov. 29, 2022, 2:08 a.m.
Marc Tessier-Lavigne faces years of allegations of scientific misconduct in his research, including papers he co-authored containing images which researchers say appear “definitely photoshopped.” One of them is now under investigation by a major journal.

Theo Baker is the Vol. 263 Investigations Editor. Contact tbaker 'at' Find him on Twitter @tab_delete.Kate Selig served as the Vol. 260 editor in chief. Contact her at kselig 'at'

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