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June 30, 2014

Update regarding the STAP cell issue

On June 30, RIKEN announced some significant decisions regarding its handling of the STAP cell issue.

First, it was decided that Haruko Obokata will be invited to participate in the experiments being conducted to investigate the STAP phenomenon reported in two papers that were published in Nature in January 2014. Her participation will be for a limited period, from July 1 to November 30, 2014. The experiments will be supervised by Shinichi Aizawa and Hitoshi Niwa of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology. These experiments will be conducted in a transparent way, with staff of RIKEN conducting recording as necessary. This is a controversial decision, but it was decided that this was the correct path to take to examine the phenomenon scientifically. In response, Dr. Obokata stated that she "hopes to demonstrate the reality of STAP cells in a way that will be universally recognized."

Second, a preliminary inquiry was launched on allegations regarding the papers that have been raised since the report of the initial committee (on March 31, 2014), based on RIKEN's Regulations on the Prevention of Research Misconduct, and the committee set up to lay out disciplinary measures for the instances of research misconduct found by the committee on March 31, 2014, will be delayed until the new findings are made.

In relation to this, RIKEN called upon the media to respect Dr. Obokata's privacy during this time and allow her to focus on the experiments.