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Public apology from stem cell scientist accused of misconduct

14 April 2014
Appeared in BioNews 750

Dr Haruko Obokata, the lead author of two controversial stem cell papers that reported discovery of so-called STAP cells (see BioNews 740), has apologised for errors in her work.

Dr Obokata spoke at a press conference in Osaka, in what was her first public appearance since the work was published in January. She took responsibility for errors in the disputed paper, saying 'I sincerely apologise for suspicions raised over my research papers and the enormous trouble caused to RIKEN, co-authors of the papers and many others due to my carelessness, sloppiness and immaturity'.

She went on to defend the existence of STAP cells, saying, 'These mistakes do not affect the conclusions of my paper'. She claimed that STAP cells have been created more than 200 times in her laboratory and was confident that other scientists would succeed in reproducing her results.

'More than anything, the experiments properly took place. As the data actually exists, I want to clarify that I did not create these papers with ill intent', she said.

Dr Obokata has appealed against the RIKEN Center investigation which found her guilty of fabrication, and they have 50 days to respond to her. They are also carrying out a study to prove whether STAP cells exist, though this will not involve Dr Obokata.

The press conference lasted two hours and was ended after concern for Dr Obokata's mental state.

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