In DepthJapan

RIKEN shrinks troubled center

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Science  05 Sep 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6201, pp. 1110
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6201.1110

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Two discredited papers have subjected a leading Japanese research center to an extraordinary form of collective punishment. On 27 August, chemist Ryoji Noyori, president of RIKEN, Japan's biggest research institution, announced that its Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe will be stripped of half of its 500-plus staff, renamed, and put under new management. The hammer blow to the 14-year-old center is coming under heavy fire. Some outsiders see it as an overreaction to the research fiasco, in which the center's Haruko Obokata and colleagues announced what would have been a revolutionary new way to produce stem cells. They say RIKEN is needlessly sacrificing a research powerhouse that has produced groundbreaking results.