The revolutionary behind the work was Haruko Obokata, a thirty-year-old postdoctoral researcher who was the first author on both papers.
In the mid-nineties, he released a picture of a mouse with what appeared to be a human ear growing from its back.
“Earmouse”—made by inserting an ear-shaped scaffold seeded with cow cells under the skin of a live mouse—became a sensational meme at the dawn of Internet Bizarre.
Vacanti’s father was a professor of dentistry, and his brothers Jay, Martin, and Frank are also physicians.
Chuck, as Vacanti is known, approaches his work with the trouble-shooter’s willingness to take a flyer.
Sasai compared to Copernicus’s reorganization of the cosmos.
A financial windfall, if not a Nobel Prize, might await its discoverers.“He had that sixth sense.”Several years ago, Sasai began to collaborate on a novel stem-cell technology being developed at C. Few cells could survive the abuse, but those which did emerged transformed, apparently able to make any cell in the body.Sasai named the cells , the British journal that first published Watson and Crick’s double-helix model of DNA.Sasai was known as “the brainmaker.” One of Japan’s foremost developmental biologists, he made discoveries that illuminated the formation of the embryonic nervous system, and, using stem cells, he grew the optic cup, parts of the cerebral cortex, and the rudiments of a cerebellum.Calm and precise in the lab, Sasai was cultivated and erudite outside it, with a reputation as a gracious host who escorted visiting colleagues to spas and prepared sushi for lab parties. B., based in Kobe, was staffed with ambitious scientists who, freed from teaching obligations and equipped with sophisticated laboratories, were expected to make significant discoveries, and publish them illustriously.Oprah covered it; Jay Leno called Chuck in the operating room.Later, after engineering a trachea for a fourteen-year-old girl with a life-threatening tumor, Chuck made a guest appearance on “Grey’s Anatomy.”But after a decade Chuck was eager to move into new terrain.Five months after publication, both papers were retracted, under intense scrutiny and growing doubt about their validity. Then, in August, 2014, a security guard found him hanged from a handrail in a stairwell at C. Talking to me on the phone, De Robertis said ruefully, “He got trapped.”Thoroughly discredited, Obokata went into hiding for more than a year.By that point, Riken had cited Obokata for research misconduct and charged her mentors with “heavy responsibility”; one of those mentors had implicated her in a fraud; she had been hospitalized for depression; a co-author had suffered a stress-related stroke; and an outside committee had recommended that Riken dismantle C. At the end of January, though, after I had tried for months to reach her, she sent me a letter, her first engagement with a member of the media since the scandal.“A brilliant new star has emerged in the science world,” an editorial in the read.“This is a major discovery that could rewrite science textbooks.” As an outsider—young, female, and not an established stem-cell biologist—Obokata, the newspapers argued, was unhindered by conventional notions of what cells can and cannot do.