“A Japanese stem cell scientist at the heart of a scandal over false claims and fabricated research has resigned.

Dr Haruko Obokata published supposedly groundbreaking research showing stem cells could be made quickly and cheaply.

There were irregularities in data, no other group in the world could repeat her findings and her own university concluded it could not be done.

In a statement Dr Obokata said: “I even can’t find the words for an apology.”

With Prescribed Title #2 the focus is on “human beings” and therefore the focus of any RLE analysis has to start and end with the people involved. In the case of Obokata she was “unique” and “unprecedented.” “Unrepeatable” in her case could be approached in a number of different ways. First of all, the scandal after problems with her research came to light could prevent other scientists from repeating the same mistakes. Perhaps Nature magazine and other organizations have improved their oversight of research papers which could prevent other problematic works to reach the publication stage.

In a Japanese social context the “un-” terms could also be viewed through a gender perspective. The reason she got so much attention (positive and negative) was due in part due to the lack of women involved in the sciences in Japan.


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