The top administrators of RIKEN, Japan’s national network of research laboratories, will voluntarily return 1 to 3 months of their salaries to atone for their responsibility for the STAP stem cell fiasco.
STAP, or stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency, is the name given to an extremely easy way of deriving stem cells, which can theoretically develop into any of a body’s tissues. The method was defined in two papers that appeared in Nature this past January. After coming under fire by researchers who found problematic images in the papers, and by others who could not reproduce the findings, the papers were retracted this past July. An investigating committee found the lead author, Haruko Obokata, guilty of research misconduct. A RIKEN team is continuing experiments to try to get to the bottom of exactly what went wrong.
Late on 23 October, RIKEN released a 5-point action plan [in Japanese here] to prevent a recurrence of research fraud. These included strengthening research management and compliance and launching a reform committee. To take responsibility for the STAP problem, RIKEN President Ryoji Noyori will return 3 months' worth of his salary to the institute. Five other top officials, including those in charge of research and compliance, will return either 1 or 2 months' worth of their salaries.