As expected, embattled stem cell researcher Haruko Obokata was firm in her stance in claiming that she had discovered STAP cells (stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency). Obokata was apologetic for the intense clamor her stem cell research had caused, but on Wednesday she again denied the allegations that she falsified or fabricated data presented in her published research papers.
“I sincerely apologize for suspicions raised over my research papers and the trouble caused to Riken, co-authors of the papers and many others due to my carelessness, sloppiness and immaturity,” she said in a statement released at a news conference on Wednesday at a hotel in Osaka. “I think my mistakes were incredibly immature in the eyes of many researchers. But these mistakes do not affect the conclusions of my paper, and above all, the experiments have been solidly conducted and the data proving STAP cells exist.”
The news conference was jam-packed with journalists and TV crews as this was the first time Obokata appeared in public since Jan. 28. That was when she announced that her team of stem cell researchers had indeed discovered STAP cells. The two-and-half-hour news conference was started with a very strong apology from Obokata, repeatedly saying that “carelessness and inexperience” were a big part of the “mistakes” in her paper. Her lawyers, who accompanied her through the public news conference, then presented in detail the appeal they had filed against Riken Institute’s judgment. The renowned Japanese institute had, after its investigation, declared that Obokata’s research paper was filled with intentional fabrications.
But Obokata remained firm, saying that she won’t be retracting her paper – this was suggested by Riken officials – and that STAP cells definitely exist. She even asked other researchers to recreate the data in her report. “As long as the conclusions are accurate, I believe it is right to announce them to the world,” Obokata concluded.
[via Wall Street Journal]