Stanford University President Resigns Amid Academic Research Backlash

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Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne announced Wednesday he will resign from his position after the conclusion of an investigation into his past academic work.

Tessier-Lavigne released a statement stating he was cleared from every allegation of misconduct made against him. However, the Stanford President says the panel’s report argued he “should have done better” in certain areas. Tessier-Lavigne said the panel concluded there were instances he manipulated research data and wasn’t persistent enough in seeking corrections. (RELATED TO: Harvard Honesty Expert Accused Of Academic Dishonesty)

Stanford is greater than any one of us. It needs a president whose leadership is not hampered by such discussions. I therefore concluded that I should step down before the start of classes. This decision is rooted in my respect for the University and its community and my unwavering commitment to doing what I believe is in the best interests of Stanford,” Tessier-Lavigne wrote.

Tessier-Lavigne says although he will be stepping down as President, he will remain on the Stanford faculty and continue research on brain development and neurodegeneration.

The investigation focused on 12 papers Tessier-Lavigne helped author. The panel concluded Tessier-Lavigne did not have sufficient knowledge or intent to manipulate research data in seven of the 12 papers, as he was not the principal author. As for the other papers, Tessier-Lavigne stated he is aware he must retract three papers and correct the remaining two.

In four of the five papers Tessier-Lavigne spearheaded as the principal author, the panel concluded he was not diligent enough in seeing through corrections or retractions to address the errors in his published research. The panel did conclude, however, he likely did not intend to manipulate any data in these papers and one of the scientists in his lab was the likely perpetrator.

“The Panel has no reason to believe that Dr. Tessier-Lavigne knew about these instances of research data manipulation in the three papers contemporaneous with their occurrence. Indeed, it would not be reasonable to expect Dr. Tessier-Lavigne to have identified these instances of research data manipulation prior to or at the time of the respective papers’ publications,” the panel wrote.

In one of the 5 papers, Nature (2004), the investigation concluded there was manipulated data generated in Tessier-Lavigne’s lab. However, the panel could not find evidence Tessier-Lavigne “knew nor should reasonably have known of these issues.”

Stanford initiated an investigation into Marc Tessier-Lavigne in 2022 over allegations of past research misconduct. Tessier-Lavigne plans to step down on August 31.