Brexiting out of EU research and patient rights

Brexiting out of EU research and patient rights

Britain voted itself out of the European Union, and with this act UK research will soon be also out of EU funding and EU scientists (or any foreign scientists for that matter, given that the central point of the Brexit vote was immigration). Without freedom of movement, there cannot be any access to EU research funding, as Switzerland had to learn after their citizens also bravely voted in their own referendum against immigration in 2014. Thus, with the genie of racism and xenophobia out of the bottle in UK now, it is highly unlikely that the next Tory government will agree to allow foreign work-seekers onto their precious island. This Brexit out of Horizon 2020, ERC and other European research programmes will hurt, because, as the UK scientist and open science activist Stephen Curry mentioned in an interview: “The UK is a net contributor to the EU overall but ‘wins’ in terms of research funding”. While Scotland might find a way out through another vote on independence, England will be stuck where it is.

Maybe this is actually not that bad, given the interesting attitude British authorities and bureaucracy have to clinical research. Their prime concern goes out not towards the public interest or the patients’ wellbeing, but to the financial profits of biotech and pharma industry. All my inquiries about the most basic documentation or permits granted to the INSPIRE clinical trial on trachea-replacement were ignored or outright rejected, with the simple argument that sharing information with me would hurt the business interests of the commercial participants involved. The INSPIRE trial is about transplanting four patients with donor tracheas, which are prior to this to be decellurised and “regenerated” using a “stem cell” approach developed by Paolo Macchiarini (now accused of involuntary manslaughter for his trachea transplant experiments). Macchiarini’s former partner Martin Birchall, laryngology surgeon at the UCL and UCLH in London, is leading this trial (see my detailed analysis here and here), and the company whose interests need the most careful protection by British authorities is Videregen, which seems to imagine the trachea replacement in humans as similar to that of exchanging a car part. Only much more lucrative of course, Birchall himself put the revenue at up to the mouth-watering $740,000 per patient (Culme-Seymour et al, 2016). Continue reading “Brexiting out of EU research and patient rights”

Berlin head ophthalmologist Joussen deploys lawyer to silence my reporting, demands from me €80,000 damages

I received a lawyer’s letter, where I am instructed to delete my report about the Berlin head ophthalmologist Antonia Joussen and to pay her legal costs of over €2000, with more damage claims to come. It was the June 2nd report on my site “Research data integrity: words and deeds of Berlin’s head ophthalmologist  which provoked this reaction.

In brief, on behalf of Joussen the lawyer Johannes Eisenberg (who specialises in criminal law) denies band duplications, but acknowledges the criticised instances of gel splicing, while insisting this was an acceptable practice in academic publishing.  He repeatedly refers to investigations by Joussen’s current employer the Berlin University Hospital Charité, who apparently exonerated Joussen just days (literally) after the concerns about her publications appeared on PubPeer in February 2015. On March 31st 2015 same Charité informed me that they decided not to declare their stand regarding Joussen’s criticised publications (evidence below). The Charité spokesperson instructed me to contact her previous employers, the universities of Cologne and Düsseldorf, who then refused sharing any information with me (in fact, the University of Düsseldorf research integrity ombudsman Ulrich Noack twice refused to reply to my emails). Now, Joussen’s lawyer abstains from naming which office or which “responsible employee” of the Charité had been performing these ultra-rapid investigations. Neither was any evidence or details of their image integrity analysis even mentioned. Continue reading “Berlin head ophthalmologist Joussen deploys lawyer to silence my reporting, demands from me €80,000 damages”

Mario Saad and the return of the wandering western blot

The wandering western blot of Mario Saad (which I reported on previously) was spotted yet again, no less than three times, which makes it now 15. The duodecuplicated western blot is therefore now upgraded to a quindecuplicated one.  Also, some more of its new replication-happy friends emerged. A suspicion creeps in that Saad and his Brazilian colleagues José CarvalheiraCláudio De Souza and Lício Velloso only ever made a handful of western blots which were forced to stand in for all possible instances in their many publications in high-profile journals. Most interestingly, Saad’s State University of Campinas in São Paolo (Universidade Estadual de Campinas, UNICAMP), apparently saw this as a perfectly normal research method. Saad, and as far as we know also his 3 partners, never had to answer for their creative approach to science. This of course may change, since Saad already had to retract a number of papers (currently six, according to Retraction Watch). Several of his publications also received editorial expressions of concern, which could mean further retractions. All this may be gradually decreasing Saad’s standing and funding-pulling value at UNICAMP.

The scientist whose recent analysis of Saad blot breeding I present here exclusively, is Paul S. Brookes, his is the entire credit for the figures below. His entire analysis is available here as PPT file. Continue reading “Mario Saad and the return of the wandering western blot”

New tenured job for zombie scientist Susana Gonzalez

Susana González is a Spanish regenerative medicine scientist who promised to search for cures of heart ageing with the help of €1.9 Million from the EU public funder ERC, before in spring 2016 she lost it together with her group leader position at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC) in Madrid. Despite a misconduct investigation which led to Gonzalez sacking, ERC chose not to terminate her funding (unlike EMBO did with that of her similarly misconduct-tainted Iberian colleague Sonia Melo). ERC suspended this hefty sum, instead of re-using it for the funding of more honest applicants, while an ERC’s standing committees on ethics and integrity are investigating Gonzalez for possible research misconduct (see my report here).

Now it seems ERC might be able to give the freshly employed group leader Gonzalez her suspended funding back, that is, if they decide to do so. As I was informed by an insider source, Gonzalez is now employed from June 1st 2016 as group leader at the Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa (CBMSO) in Madrid. This zombie scientist did not even have to move house to find another tenured job in research. Here is one example of suspicious data irregularities in Gonzalez papers (listed on PubPeer): a western blot duplication across two publications from her lab (Herrero-Merchan et al 2012 and Arranz et al 2012): Continue reading “New tenured job for zombie scientist Susana Gonzalez”

Regenerating in Hannover, Part 1: how Macchiarini got ideas

Regenerating in Hannover, Part 1: how Macchiarini got ideas

The trachea surgeon and formerly world-renowned stem cell pioneer Paolo Macchiarini, whose human experimenting left most of his trachea-transplant patients dead or in permanent emergency care, certainly did not intend to restrict himself to regenerating airways. He wanted to grow hearts, and he was likely to have been inspired by his former colleagues in Hannover, Germany.

In a particularly revealing interview with a Russian magazine, Macchiarini explained in spring 2014 how an entire organ can be created:

“You cannot grow an entire organ from the cells of an adult human. Besides the cells, you need something else: donor organ or an artificial carcass”.

Thus, for Macchiarini regenerative medicine was reduced to pressing bone marrow cells into the right mould, either a decellurised donor organ consisting only of collagen fibres, or a plastic scaffold. If the form is of trachea, the bone marrow cells will regenerate a trachea. If the form is that of an oesophagus, they will grow an oesophagus. And if they are seeded of a heart-shaped scaffold, they will produce a real beating heart. This of course is one deeply ignorant and unscientific notion, which blatantly disregards the most basic concepts of developmental biology in favour of medical hubris and false promises. Shockingly, politicians, media, university doctors and even stem cell scientists somehow fell for it. Continue reading “Regenerating in Hannover, Part 1: how Macchiarini got ideas”

Conspiracy Theory: Is NPG being assimilated by Frontiers???

The post below is a satiric parody, though the general facts and the document I publish are real and true.

On Monday, the 13th of June, Nature Publishing Group (NPG) journals shut down. Instead of high-impact papers, all the bedazzled scientific community could see was: Internal Server Error (500).

The website collapse was first noticed with the NPG journal Scientific Reports, but then spread upwards the impact factor scale to Nature Communications and even Nature itself.

What happened? The NatureNews team, begged to give any insights, remained suspiciously silent. No announcements were made, questions remained unanswered. Continue reading “Conspiracy Theory: Is NPG being assimilated by Frontiers???”

Triplicated paper with multiplicated cells and images

There are papers which contain image duplications. There are papers which contain outrageous image duplications, which can only be explained by wilful manipulation and deceit. Then there are papers which are deliberately published twice, which also can constitute misconduct (COPE guidelines are somewhat unclear there).

In this case however, a paper containing outrageously manipulated duplicated images has been published 3 times, in three different journals, which happen to be also Open Access. 

The authors are almost all from Malaysia, and not the same on these three publications Yet all three papers have same two corresponding authors:

Sekaran Muniandy, professor at the Department Of Molecular Medicine at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur. He even used his institutional email address: sekaran@um.edu.my. The first and other corresponding author is apparently his PhD student, Nima Samie, who used a Gmail address: nimasamie@gmail.com. Continue reading “Triplicated paper with multiplicated cells and images”