Former KI rector Dahlman-Wright: stones in a glass house

Former KI rector Dahlman-Wright: stones in a glass house

The irony is rich. Just last month, the Swedish Karolinska Institutet (KI) announced the results of the investigation into papers by their former guest professor Paolo Macchiarini and his right-hand man Philipp Jungebluth. The two were found guilty of research misconduct and their plastic trachea transplant papers were set for retraction, where at least the journal The Lancet finally obliged (read here). Exemplary decision, but there is a snag: next to the ruthless trachea transplanters, other scientists were found guilty of misconduct, among them Karl-Henrik Grinnemo, one of the four original KI whistleblowers without whose brave actions there would have been no Macchiarini scandal. Two more whistleblowers were found “blameworthy” of negligence. Also KI professor Katarina Le Blanc was found guilty of misconduct, incidentally a whistleblower herself who reported severe ethics breaches in a different case of regenerative medicine and human research at KI two years ago. Finally, KI fingered the sacked UCL nanotechnologist Alexander Seifalian for research misconduct, using the very same shaky arguments the London university pulled off in its investigative report in 2017 (read here). The bizarre thing: back then UCL did not allow Seifalian to defend himself or to appeal against the accusations, and KI now did exactly same. He was served a misconduct verdict, but was denied by KI a right to testimony or appeal, which Macchiarini and his gang were granted generously and made ample use of.

The Macchiarini investigation was initiated in 2016 by the interim KI Vice-Chancellor (rector) Karin Dahlman-Wright and was completed this year by the newly installed Vice-Chancellor Ole Petter Ottersen. The promised irony is that several Dahlman-Wright papers were now scrutinised by the pseudonymous data integrity sleuth Clare Francis with the result that one wonders if Dahlman-Wright was the right person to supervise a research misconduct investigation. Here comes namely even more irony: that former interim rector and her successor Ottersen previously absolved the notorious KI group leader Helin Vakifahmetoglu-Norberg and her former PhD mentor, the KI professor Boris Zhivotovsky (read here), despite heavy evidence of manipulated data. Nine more professors were under misconduct investigation during Dahlman-Wright’s tenure (read here), and since we heard nothing yet, one can assume that all the duplicated and photoshopped data in their papers was also a misunderstanding which bears no relevance on the quality of their research. The Dahlman-Wright evidence I present below is heavy, but also Ottersen himself might be tainted: he is co-author on an old paper with a likely image duplication. Continue reading “Former KI rector Dahlman-Wright: stones in a glass house”

Cancerous Statistics, by Alla Astakhova

Cancerous Statistics, by Alla Astakhova

Russian officials found an ingenious way to cure cancer and to impress their autocratic president Putin: they simply rig statistics. More people die of cancer than actually officially suffer from it. Elsewhere, dead patients disappear or, according to statistics, live forever. This was reported by the Russian independent health journalist Alla Astakhova on her site, Status Praesens, based on an open letter by the oncologist Vakhtang Merabishvili she published. My site now brings you a translation of a related Astakhova article, which covered last year’s lecture by Merabishvili about the rigged Russian cancer statistics.

And these are truly impressively false. While Europe shows for stage IV cancer sufferers a one-year mortality rate of between 30 and 40 percent (in some countries over 50%), Russia achieved a medical sensation: less than 20% die! Also for stages I and II cancer patients, Russian bureaucrats were able to show excellent health improvements. The current Minister of Health Veronika Skvortsova proudly announced to Putin that the early cancer detection rate in Russia is amazing 70%. Yet even the rigged official data shows actually 55% on average (and is higher in more corrupt regions of Russia). In reality, once one does the counting properly, according to international standards, the early cancer detection rate lies between 30 and 35 percent. Same minister Skvortsova recently promised  to raise the life expectancy of Russians to 120, which is impressive given that the current one is around 70. Maybe just for Putin (65), to make sure someone watches over Russia for the next 50 years. It is also a quite convenient excuse for the Russian government to raise the entry into pension age. If you are promised to live till 120, don’t complain if you are told to work till 70 or longer (Russian life expectancy with men is 67).

Russian officials, while promoting their so-called “family values” in a desperate attempt to raise the rapidly declining child births, pretend in their cancer statistics that the population is not ageing at all. Which is convenient, because if you don’t expect an increase of age-related cancers, you do not have to invest in oncology care.

Continue reading “Cancerous Statistics, by Alla Astakhova”

UCL trachea transplants: Videregen sets lawyers on Liverpool academics Murray and Levy

UCL trachea transplants: Videregen sets lawyers on Liverpool academics Murray and Levy

The Science and Technology Committee of the British House of Commons opened in November 2017 an inquiry into Research Integrity. This prompted two University of Liverpool academics to submit a letter to the committee, describing the inaccuracies, misrepresentations and blatant lies which incurred in the course of the trachea transplants performed by the surgeons Paolo Macchiarini and Martin Birchall. The two academics were Patricia Murray, professor in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, previously a nurse on a Head and Neck unit, and Raphael Lévy, senior lecturer in nanotechnology and imaging. The two also notified the relevant UK authorities and Birchall’s employer UCL of their concerns, especially after even suspected data manipulations came to light. UCL representative gave as a reply an oral and written testimony to the parliamentary committee, other stakeholders provided their own written replies. The first Murray-Levy letter was followed by a second one, because UCL needed help recalling correctly what they did to which patient, and how many have died from the very similar trachea replacement technology which UCL still demands to be allowed to test on 60 more patients.

Now the most vile thing happened, as reported by The BMJ on July 12. Videregen, the Liverpool-based company which bought the trachea regeneration patent from UCL and engages Birchall’s services as advisor, deployed lawyers against Murray and Levy, precisely via their employer University of Liverpool. The main issue is the parliamentary submission by Levy and Murray, subject to absolute privilege. Yet Videregen also cites from the confidential notice of suspected research misconduct Murray and Levy submitted in good faith to UCL (which has not yet decided whether misrepresenting data and providing false information in applications for funding, ethics approval and regulatory permissions is serious enough to warrant an investigation). One wonders who forwarded Videregen this notice, which was confidential and absolutely none of their business? UCL, or their professor Birchall, or Birchall with permission from UCL? Another question is: is our tax money which the EU Commission gave Videregen for trachea transplanting now being used to threaten critics? Continue reading “UCL trachea transplants: Videregen sets lawyers on Liverpool academics Murray and Levy”

Macchiarini victim Zhadyra Iglikova is dead

Macchiarini victim Zhadyra Iglikova is dead

English version below

Умерла еще одна жертва Маккиарини – Жадыра Игликова

Еще одна из пациенток, которым  Маккиарини в прошлом проводил трансплантацию трахеи, умерла 9 июля 2018. Об этом сообщила российский медицинский журналист Алла Астахова, упомнув в качестве источника аккаунт в Instagram одного из членов семьи пациентки. Аккаунт содержит много ценной информации. Жадыра Игликова получила от Маккиарини обесклеченную трахею посмертного донора в декабре 2010 года. Эта операция была шоу своего рода и должна была привлечь чудо-хирурга в российский проект мегагрантов. Результатом стали до 6 смертельных трансплантаций пластиковой трахеи . Трансплантат был получен в больнице Careggi во Флоренции, где Маккиарини работал в то время, и доставлен в Россию. Операция была проведена в московской Национальном научном центре хирургии имени Петровского. Ведущим хирургом наряду с Маккиарини был Владимир Паршин . Сразу же после этого последовали осложнения, трансплантат развалился и сгнил, как сообщает  Дземешкевич 2015 .

К 2018 году состояние Жадыры критически ухудшилось, у нее была хроническая пневмония, трахеопищеводный свищ и весила она менее 39 кг. В феврале 2018 ее семья отправилась с ней из Казахстана в Москву искать помощи в клинике МГМУ имени Сеченова. Совпадение или нет, но руководит отделением торакальной хирургии в этой клинике Паршин, выполнивший первую операцию по пересадке трахеи Жадыре в 2010 году. Continue reading “Macchiarini victim Zhadyra Iglikova is dead”

Latchman and Wohl Foundation: gifts that keep on giving

Latchman and Wohl Foundation: gifts that keep on giving

Imagine being so rich that not you are employed as rector by the university, it is your university whom you give money to, from the inherited charity trust you preside over. If such a precious rector had over 40 of his publications flagged for what definitely looks like grossly manipulated data, it would be simply stupidly irresponsible for the university to actually investigate that. And if they really had to investigate, the only sensible solution is to find the entire blame with someone else.

This is basically the situation of David Latchman, Master of Birkbeck, professor of genetics at UCL and Commander of the Order of the British Empire. The scientist who was once again cleared of all suspicions of research misconduct, while his two subordinates took all the blame, for just 7 papers. Past and apparently even future evidence for all other dozens of papers Latchman co-authored was dismissed, which let my regular contributor Smut Clyde present some of it last month. Now Smut offers an extra serving of duplicated graphs of experimental kinetics, in a Latchman coda below.

Latchman is not your pedestrian scientist who does science as a job to earn a living. For the Master of Birkbeck is nephew of the late London property developer and philanthropist Maurice Wohl, who died childless. One can guess who is the likely heir to the immense wealth Maurice Wohl left, and indeed, Latchman is Chair of the over £100 Million-heavy Maurice Wohl Charitable Foundation, a charity which donates in no small part to healthcare and medical research in UK. Latchman’s own Birkbeck pays him a yearly salary of GBP 400k, one of the highest rector’s salaries in UK, yet the university received from Lathcman’s Wohl Foundation, according to these records between 2013 and 2016, over 5 Million British Pounds: Continue reading “Latchman and Wohl Foundation: gifts that keep on giving”

Another dead scientist framed with manipulated data?

Another dead scientist framed with manipulated data?

On 7 April 2010 the Spanish diabetes researcher Margarita Lorenzo, Professor of Biochemistry at the Complutense University in Madrid, died of metastatic melanoma, aged only 51. Two months after her death, Lorenzo’s colleagues submitted a paper to the journal Diabetes (published by American Diabetes Association), which was accepted for publication 4 weeks later. These colleagues, primarily the corresponding authors Sonia Fernandez-Veledo (now research group leader at IISPV in Tarragona) and Cristina Murga (now deputy director at CBMSO in Madrid), wrote in the paper’s acknowledgements:

“This work is dedicated to the memory of Prof. Margarita Lorenzo, who passed away April 7, 2010, at the age of 51”.

The paper, which studies the mechanisms of obesity and insulin resistance, seems to be full of manipulated western blot data. The only thing which is rather clear: the late Margarita Lorenzo didn’t do it. While she was dying of cancer, her colleagues advanced their careers using her reputation, but their own disreputable Photoshop skills. This shows too many uncanny parallels with another case in diabetology research, where some unscrupulous scientists at Weizmann Institute in Israel urinated on the grave of their dying colleague, by placing manipulated western blots into his last papers. That scientist was Ofer Lider, and he died of cancer (leukaemia) at 49, a similar age as Margarita Lorenzo. Obituaries were written by those responsible for the publishing of rigged research, in both cases.

Continue reading “Another dead scientist framed with manipulated data?”

The anti-social mini-brains of Neanderthals

The anti-social mini-brains of Neanderthals

Neanderthals colonised Europe and Middle East long before modern humans and went extinct less than 30,000 years ago, when our species has spread there. Their story inspired the fantasies of generation of scientists, some of whom still cannot accept the idea that Neanderthals were just another kind of humans very similar or maybe simply just like us. Again and again the Neanderthals are portrayed as grunting hairy cave beasts utterly incapable of anything which makes us human: speech, art, tool-making and any meaningful social interaction except of copulation and mutual delousing. Gracelessly lumbering about, too slow to even hunt some food, not even grunting, but squeaking. The recent knowledge that modern humans and Neanderthal had actual children with each other, evidenced by genetic traces all modern humans of non-African origin carry, has for those academics a whiff of a bestiality fantasy. 

The following post by my regular contributor Smut Clyde presents you some fresh new age phrenology papers which try to explain why Neanderthal died out. Their brains were inferior, you see. Defective. This is why they are no longer amongst us: too stupid and anti-social. The history of Homo sapiens however suggests that we tend to see any out-group humans this way and then try our best in exterminating them and take their resources. Had certain more recent human endeavours succeeded, there would probably be peer -reviewed academic studies on why Australian and American first people, or Tutsi, or Armenians, or Jews were biologically bound to become extinct. Was it their poorly developed brains which made them sub-competitive against Europeans and other evolutionary more advanced races? Continue reading “The anti-social mini-brains of Neanderthals”