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Japanese scientist in research scandal found dead


TOKYO (AP) - A senior Japanese scientist embroiled in a stem-cell research scandal died Tuesday in an apparent suicide, police said.

Yoshiki Sasai, who supervised and co-authored stem-cell research papers that had to be retracted due to falsified contents, was found suffering from cardiac arrest at the government-affiliated science institute RIKEN in Kobe, in western Japan, according to Hyogo prefectural police. Sasai, 52, was deputy chief of RIKEN's Center for Developmental Biology.

A security guard found him with a rope around his neck, according to RIKEN. Sasai was rushed to a hospital, but was pronounced dead two hours later.

Police and RIKEN said Sasai left what appeared to be suicide notes, but refused to disclose their contents.

RIKEN spokesman Satoru Kagaya told a news conference that Sasai had three letters with him, each addressed to Haruko Obokata, a co-author of the research papers, as well as senior members of RIKEN and fellow researchers. Two other notes addressed to RIKEN officials were on Sasai's secretary's desk.

Sasai's health had deteriorated over the past few months, and he had been receiving medical treatment. Kagaya said that Sasai started looking depressed in May, and that the two had hardly seen each other recently.

"He seemed exhausted. I could tell he was tired even on the phone," Kagaya said, referring to one of his last conversations with Sasai.

Sasai's team retracted the research papers from the British science journal Nature over Obokata's alleged malpractice, which she has contested. Retractions of papers in major scientific journals are extremely rare, and the scandal was a major embarrassment to Japanese scientific research.

Obokata was in shock when she heard the news of Sasai's death, Kagaya said. Obokata has been in and out of the hospital since the scandal due to her mental condition, and RIKEN has arranged a team of medical staff and colleagues to give her support, while monitoring her around the clock, he said.

In two papers published in Nature earlier this year, the researchers reported that they successfully transformed ordinary mouse cells into versatile stem cells by exposing them to a mildly acidic environment. Scientists hope to harness stem cells to grow replacement tissue for treating a variety of diseases.

RIKEN later held Obokata, a main author of the research, responsible for falsifying data. The investigation also focused on Sasai and two other employees, though the three were not accused of research misconduct.

Sasai had said he was "deeply ashamed" over the problems with the papers.

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stengernc August 05 2014 at 7:21 AM

How nice it would be if all politicians who lie would feel deep shame and rid the world of their flaws.

Flag Reply +15 rate up
4 replies
buddwhyzr August 05 2014 at 7:47 AM

You gotta admit.....the Japs take responsibility and accept the consequences for their actions. A western Dr. would have lawyered up and spent years in court lying.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
4 replies
bps163 August 05 2014 at 8:17 AM

keep looking and you will find his death is tied to big bucks $$$$$ somewhere.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
furlogthegiant bps163 August 05 2014 at 10:09 AM

always follow the money

Flag Reply 0 rate up
jrc22552 August 05 2014 at 8:39 AM

Too bad the Climategate perpetrators didn't follow the same path.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
2 replies
reginatorw jrc22552 August 05 2014 at 11:29 AM

As you sit waist deep in your own excrement wondering why no one socializes with you.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
roseyoungstewart jrc22552 August 05 2014 at 1:48 PM

I just don't have enough fingers to express my dislike for you.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
davidrpriest August 05 2014 at 9:02 AM

There is a lot of phony "research" and false claims about stem cells. This is not the only example of that.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
2 replies
mickylitz2 davidrpriest August 05 2014 at 9:55 AM

davidrpriest ....There are many of those so called " Research " .that should be tossed..
We spend so much money of people claiming to research for the good of human kind but simply filled their pockets,,,

Flag Reply 0 rate up
roseyoungstewart davidrpriest August 05 2014 at 2:08 PM

did you know when a person working for acharity tells you oh 100% goes ro the charity it could mean sure it does it covers salaries of executives, building expenses like water, electricity, maintenance, upkeep very very little maybe 3 cent sout of every dollar MIGHT go towards the real person. CEO of AmericAN Cancer Society. (Listen up you guys) John Seffrin makes 1.5 million dollars a year as his take home salary. it is a non profit charity so he don't pay taxes. whats that about 30 thousand dollars a week? hahahaha its true.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
paulson545 August 05 2014 at 7:41 AM

Was it really worth killing yourself, just confess and take your punishment, it's not like he killed someone.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
5 replies
wolfen06 August 05 2014 at 8:00 AM

Don't believe this story for a minute. Stem cell research is going to be huge for humanity, and will soon eliminate the use for doctors. I believe this was foul play here. I have done a lot of research on the progression in this field, and at some point soon, you will even be able to grow back your own teeth, and your own hair, and even cancer will be a thing of the past.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
6 replies
Pat August 05 2014 at 11:11 AM

suicide ... real or staged?

to hide a MURDER ...

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
Gayle Pat August 05 2014 at 1:08 PM

I questioned that too.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
troll1141 August 05 2014 at 1:05 PM

So solly Chalie !

Flag Reply +1 rate up
chuck August 05 2014 at 9:19 AM

too bad the libs that tell these same lies here dont do it the way the japanesse do. harikari, the honerable way out of a lie!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
mickylitz2 chuck August 05 2014 at 9:51 AM

chuck ,,,You got that right and unfortunately we have plenty of them.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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