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Cardiff: no misconduct by TCM professor Wen Jiang, report secret

Cardiff University is very proud of its collaboration with manufacturer of Traditional Chinese Medicine Yiling Pharmaceuticals, while the money it brings in is largely a private issue between the two business partners. Unfortunately Cardiff’s surgery and tumour biology professor Wen Jiang, Fellow of Royal Society of Medicine, is at the centre of an affair about data manipulation in his papers, and about criticisms of peddling Yiling’s TCM concoction of ginseng, dried fungus, chicken gizzard and crushed cockroach as a Cardiff University-certified cancer cure, all involuntarily sponsored by the Welsh public and charity Cancer Research Wales. This is why the university threw their own damning internal investigative report out of the window, and had three poorly qualified experts declare Jiang innocent of any data manipulation in his cell biology papers. Cardiff University issued then a press release accusing me personally of having slandered Jiang with false allegations of misconduct.

After having mulled another one of my Freedom of Information (FOI) inquiries for a month, this time a request for the investigative report, Cardiff University declared that their whitewashing opus is secret, because:

“the formal investigation has not upheld the allegations of misconduct and to further distribute this report would be an unnecessary invasion of the privacy of the individual involved”.

cardiff-yiling-ceremony-unveiling-plaque
Yiling Pharma’s owner Yiling Wu and Cardiff University’s President Colin Riordan. Source: Cardiff University

Unlike the university claimed in public, I never raised any misconduct accusations against anyone in person, but merely listed the PubPeer evidence, in fact after Cardiff themselves have verified it, but now apparently expect to disappear after their whitewashing verdict. My regular contributor Smut Clyde and myself however dared to poo-poo Yiling’s business model and Jiang’s practice of wrapping Yiling’s patented TCM herbal, fungal and animal cancer remedies in peer-reviewed British papers, in order to peddle those to Chinese and western patients. Now put in our shameful place, we both prostrate and sincerely apologise to Cardiff University, begging the Welsh academic authorities to have mercy on us. Please don’t deal with us as with that Chinese doctor, who ended up in jail for 3 months for criticising quack produce of another TCM Pharma company, or in  fact as Chinese police handled a reporter who quoted from our article on Wen Jiang and Yiling Pharma.

The Cardiff University press release from 19 April 2018 is here again, in full:

Allegations relating to research misconduct – 19/04/2018

In recent months a number of allegations have emerged on social media and blog posts about research conducted by Professor Wen G. Jiang, notably on https://forbetterscience.com/2018/02/14/fried-divine-comedy-featuring-anti-cancer-cockroach-and-phallic-fungus/#more-23091

Some of these allegations, relating to research misconduct, were formally submitted to Cardiff University by an anonymous whistleblower.

Cases of research misconduct are rare at Cardiff University. However, when allegations are made they are considered in accordance with the University’s Procedure for Dealing with Allegations of Misconduct in Academic Research.

The University’s procedure is in line with guidance issued by the UK Research Integrity Office, to which the University subscribes.

The University has conducted a formal investigation into the allegations.

In all it reviewed allegations relating to 19 publications and has not upheld the allegations of misconduct.

Cardiff University reviews the research quality of all its academic staff as part of performance development reviews and ongoing preparations for the next national Research Excellence Framework (REF). Professor Jiang has been assessed by independent review as having research outputs of a standard eligible for submission to the next REF.

Questions have also been raised about the relationship between the Yiling Pharmaceutical Company Limited and Cardiff University

Yiling Pharmaceutical Company is one of China’s high-tech pharmaceutical companies, devoted to research and development, manufacture and marketing of new medicines. Its products are listed in China’s National Formulary and Health Insurance list.

Its research work has focused on the health benefits of the traditional Chinese medicine preparation Yangzheng Xiaoji and on the development and advancement of new treatments for cancer and infectious diseases, with a particular focus on Chinese medicine.

The Cardiff University – Yiling Group Joint Medical Research Centre was established in 2013 through a gift from Yiling Pharmaceutical Company to Cardiff University. This followed a due diligence report, completed in October 2013, which found no issues of concern.

Under the terms of the gift agreement, Yiling Pharmaceutical Company agreed to donate £300,000 over three years (November 2013 to July 2016) to support a number of scientific researchers, known as “Yiling Scholars”,  through provision of a stipend, research and publication costs, to undertake research projects in cancer molecular pathology at Cardiff University.

Yiling Scholars, who were selected by Peking Cancer Hospital and Capital Medical University, were early career medical doctors and scientists. Yiling Pharmaceutical Company did not play any role in scholar selection, nor were any scholars employees of the company. The use of the gift from Yiling Pharmaceutical to Cardiff University was determined by the University, not the company.

Research conducted at Cardiff University under Professor Jiang’s direction has been concerned with understanding the molecular pathological mechanisms of cancer and metastasis. A minority of studies have examined the efficacy of traditional Chinese medicine preparations and potential mechanisms of action.

Why were those bands duplicated in a Jiang paper Bokobza et al 2010? Can Yiling maybe explain, if Cardiff is afraid to? In any case: this is not misconduct, Cardiff scientists now free to do same. Source: PubPeer

Jiang is innocent of any misconduct, and it will remain forever a secret

  • if his evil scheming postdocs did it behind his back (as in case of Cardiff’s own former Dean Paul Morgan), or
  • if the data manipulations were declared good scientific practice (as French CNRS did in a similar case), or
  • if Wen Jiang was determined to have been an uninvolved, honorary author on his own papers (as German DFG once decided), or
  • if data was found indeed manipulated, and the corresponding author Jiang responsible, but that Yiling money, the money, the money…

This is also why Cardiff’s dealing with Yiling Pharma are secret, as per another of my rejected FOI requests to Cardiff University, which is utterly unashamed to advertise for cockroach-flavoured chicken gizzards as cancer-cure, while chickenshittingly afraid to embarrass themselves by publishing their external investigative report. This is despite the fact that Cardiff did release the previous internal report (published on my site), led by their own cell biologist Adrian Harwood, which confirmed most instances of data manipulation in Jiang’s papers,  precisely the instances of gel band duplications as well as inappropriate gel splicing and image reuse.

Another cancer research professor, whose papers the same internal commission found to be tainted by manipulated data, was Robert Nicholson. In his case however, there was no press release, the investigation might be ongoing or concluded with secret result, with its report fed to chickens and cockroaches, whom Cardoff University then used for TCM cancer cure. Cardiff invited these “experts” to fix the Jiang and Nicholson mess: Judge Ray Singh , Pro Vice Chancellor at Reading University Gavin Brooks and Cardiff’s own optometry professor Jeremy Guggenheim. Of this crack team, only the former cardiovascular researcher and now university manager Brooks might have had a vague idea of what a western blot might be, and why the bands therein should not be duplicated.  Or maybe he is just as clueless about protein gels and their integrity as the optometrician Guggenheim and the judge Singh are, on whose expert legal advice the Cardiff University accused yours truly of slandering poor innocent Jiang.

Screenshot-2018-5-22 Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical Co ,Ltd

Despite all being a misunderstanding from libellous blogging, Jiang had by now to correct 3 papers of Cardiff origin for manipulated data: Martin et al 2004, Du et al 2013 and Gao et al 2015, while the data intergrity sleuth Clare Francis kept finding new  evidence of manipulated data in his papers, like this here, in Cheng et al FEBS Letters 2013:

wtz04ht

This was the reply from Cardiff University from today, 22 May 2018, where I was denied access to the investigative report on based of which the same university publicly accused me of libel:

“The University considers that to disclosure this information could be unfair to the individual. The disclosure would not be within the reasonable expectations of an employee and it could constitute an unnecessary intrusion into the privacy of the individual involved.  This could fundamentally undermine the employer/employee relationship and expectation of mutual confidentiality between both parties.  The University has a duty of care to ensure that the information which it holds on its employees is dealt with in an appropriate manner.

In coming to this conclusion the University has consulted guidance produced by the Information Commissioner’s Office on the what can be considered personal data, https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/documents/1213/personal-information-section-40-and-regulation-13-foia-and-eir-guidance.pdf . This guidance states that information relating to an internal investigation or disciplinary hearing will carry a strong general expectation of privacy. “This was recognised by the Information Tribunal in the case of Rob Waugh v Information Commissioner and Doncaster College (EA/2008/0038, 29 December 2008) when it said at paragraph 40 that:“…there is a recognised expectation that the internal disciplinary matters of an individual will be private. Even among senior members of staff there would still be a high expectation of privacy between an employee and his employer in respect of disciplinary matters.”

Furthermore, the formal investigation has not upheld the allegations of misconduct and to further distribute this report would be an unnecessary invasion of the privacy of the individual involved”.

The FOI options are not exhausted though. Let’s see where this leads.


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23 comments on “Cardiff: no misconduct by TCM professor Wen Jiang, report secret

  1. Zebedee

    Judge Ray Singh was conflicted.
    https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/about/organisation/governance/council/council-members/ray-singh
    “Judge Singh was appointed to serve on Cardiff University Council with effect from 1 August 2016.”

    Like

  2. However, he has published over 100 papers in 2016 and 2017. Unbelievable production! I wish I could get beyond the paywall to read some of these.

    Like

  3. Zebedee

    In China the interests of large companies and the State are aligned. There is not much that goes on without the Party’s knowledge, or assent. Cardiff University is in the pocket of a large Chinese business (£300,000) (1). The attention that the China Cardiff Medical Research Collaborative, which has prof Wen Jiang as one of its nodes, has received from the Party in the form of an official accolade means that the Party is fully aware of this collaboration (2).

    Cardiff University needs to examine its position, in particular consider if it is doing the bidding of an authoritarian regime.

    References.
    1. https://forbetterscience.com/2018/02/14/fried-divine-comedy-featuring-anti-cancer-cockroach-and-phallic-fungus/
    Update 28.03.2018.
    “In the period 2014-16 the Yiling Pharmaceuticals Company Limited donated £300,000 to Cardiff University to support cancer research in the School of Medicine. ”
    2. https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/cardiff-china-medical-research-collaborative/about-us/our-collaborative-partners
    “Cardiff (University) is at the very heart of China-UK collaborations and is a ‘shining example of the Sino-UK scientific collaboration.’
    Madam Mei Ying Zhang, Vice-Chairman of CPPCC (Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee)”

    Like

  4. Pingback: Boletim de Notícias: ABC inicia debates com candidatos à presidência | Direto da Ciência

  5. Zebedee

    Br J Ophthalmol. 2006 Aug;90(8):1052-9. Epub 2006 May 10.
    VEGF-A regulates the expression of VEGF-C in human retinal pigment epithelial cells.
    Zhao B1, Ma A, Cai J, Boulton M.
    Author information

    1
    School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.

    See: https://pubpeer.com/publications/C5B891A90D9232120BCD22F1C9DC22

    Like

    • Cardiff invited three “experts” to fix the Jiang and Nicholson mess. Not one, but two of these were Cardiff’s own:-

      Judge Ray Singh, who as a judge should know what conflicted means.
      https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/about/organisation/governance/council/council-members/ray-singh
      “Judge Singh was appointed to serve on Cardiff University Council with effect from 1 August 2016.”, and,
      Jeremy Guggenheim
      https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/people/view/82889-guggenheim-jeremy
      Professor Jeremy Guggenheim
      Director of Research
      School of Optometry and Vision Sciences,
      Cardiff University.

      Jeremy Guggenheim is further conflicted as:-
      1. Br J Ophthalmol. 2006 Aug;90(8):1052-9 (the paper above),
      2. Diabetes. 2003 Dec;52(12):2959-68 (the paper below), and,
      3. The data in the J Biol Chem. 2006 Feb 10;281(6):3604-13/PLoS One. 2011; 6(3): e18076 cross-over event (two papers below), originated in the department of which he is now director.

      WG Jiang is author on 3 of the 4 publications (the cross-over event involves 2 papers), and Jun Cai is author on all 4 of the publications, names which would have cropped up during the investigation of WG Jiang’s papers. Cardiff university is another example of a university not being pro-active, but failing to take a look at all the papers, but then again WG Jiang’s 590 papers would put anybody off making the effort. Is producing so many papers a deliberate way of deflecting criticism, people are put off by the amount of work necessary?

      Surely and independent panel of “experts” should mean people who have no connection with Cardiff university? The obvious direct connection of 2 out of 3 “experts” with the university is a mockery.

      Is it time for a third panel, the members of which have no links with Cardiff university, to evaluate all 590 JW Jiang’s papers? Given the conflicted nature of the present panel a body other than Cardiff univesity should appoint the “experts”. Cardiff university will baulk at the prospect. The sheer cost will be enormous. To preserve its current reputation Cardiff university may have no other choice.

      Like

  6. Zebedee

    Diabetes. 2003 Dec;52(12):2959-68.
    Activation of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-1 sustains angiogenesis and Bcl-2 expression via the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase pathway in endothelial cells.
    Cai J1, Ahmad S, Jiang WG, Huang J, Kontos CD, Boulton M, Ahmed A.
    Author information

    1 Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.

    Figure 4.

    Like

    • Diabetes. 2003 Dec;52(12):2959-68 continued.
      Figure 6D. How can a single alpha-tubulin panel provide a loading control for cells which have received 4 different pre-treatments? The alpha-tubulin panel does not look like it comes from the same blot as any of the 4 Bcl-2 panels.

      Figure 6D. See:

      Like

      • Senior and corresponding author Diabetes. 2003 Dec;52(12):2959-68, Asif Ahmed is inaugural Dean Aston Medical School, Birmingham, England.

        http://www.aston.ac.uk/aston-medical-school/
        “Meet the Dean of Aston Medical School”
        “Prof. Asif Ahmed, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Health and Executive Dean Aston Medical School”

        https://www2.aston.ac.uk/EasySiteWeb/Professor%20Asif%20Ahmed%20CV.pdf
        See section “Publications from Ahmed’s Laboratory” for Diabetes. 2003 Dec;52(12):2959-68.

        and also for: “Cai J, Wu L, Qi X, Shaw L, Li Calzi S, Caballero S, Jiang WG, Vinores SA, Antonetti D, Ahmed A, Grant MB, Boulton ME. (2011) Placenta growth factor-1 exerts time-dependent stabilization of adherens junctions following VEGF-induced vascular permeability. PLoS One. 6(3):e18076.”,

        which has the data cross-over-event already mentioned in the comments above.

        See:

        Like

  7. Zebedee

    Data figure 2 J Biol Chem. 2006 Feb 10;281(6):3604-13 (this paper) reappear as data in figure 8a PLoS One. 2011; 6(3): e18076. Treatments different.
    See:

    References.
    1. J Biol Chem. 2006 Feb 10;281(6):3604-13. Epub 2005 Dec 8.
    Pigment epithelium-derived factor inhibits angiogenesis via regulated intracellular proteolysis of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1.
    Cai J1, Jiang WG, Grant MB, Boulton M.
    Author information
    School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Cardiff University, UK.

    PLoS One. 2011; 6(3): e18076.
    Published online 2011 Mar 25. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018076
    PMCID: PMC3064593
    PMID: 21464949
    Placenta Growth Factor-1 Exerts Time-Dependent Stabilization of Adherens Junctions Following VEGF-Induced Vascular Permeability
    Jun Cai, 1 Lin Wu, 1 Xiaoping Qi, 1 Lynn Shaw, 2 Sergio Li Calzi, 2 Sergio Caballero, 2 Wen G. Jiang, 3 Stanley A. Vinores, 4 David Antonetti, 5 Asif Ahmed, 6 Maria B. Grant, 2 and Michael E. Boulton 1 , *
    Gian Paolo Fadini, Editor
    1 Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, United States of America,
    2 Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, United States of America,
    3 Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom,
    4 Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins University, Wilmer Eye Institute, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America,
    5 Cellular & Molecular Physiology, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania, United States of America,
    6 BHF Centre for Cardiovascular Science, Queen’s Medical Research Institute, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom,
    University of Padova Medical School, Italy

    Like

  8. Fernando Pessoa

    Mol Vis. 2012;18:2758-69. Epub 2012 Nov 22.
    Survivin expression is associated with lens epithelial cell proliferation and fiber cell differentiation.
    Jarrin M1, Mansergh FC, Boulton ME, Gunhaga L, Wride MA.
    Author information

    Visual Neuroscience and Molecular Biology Research Group, School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Cardiff, University, Cardiff, Wales, UK.

    Figure 1B.

    Like

  9. Fernando Pessoa

    Int J Dev Biol. 2008;52(7):873-86. doi: 10.1387/ijdb.082597fm.
    Developmentally regulated expression of hemoglobin subunits in avascular tissues.
    Mansergh FC1, Hunter SM, Geatrell JC, Jarrin M, Powell K, Evans MJ, Wride MA.
    Author information

    Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Wales, UK.

    Figure 2.

    Like

  10. J Biol Chem. 2006 Feb 10;281(6):3604-13. Epub 2005 Dec 8.
    Pigment epithelium-derived factor inhibits angiogenesis via regulated intracellular proteolysis of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1.
    Cai J1, Jiang WG, Grant MB, Boulton M.
    Author information

    1 School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Cardiff University, UK.

    Figure 2.

    Like

  11. Data in Mol Cancer Res. 2011 Dec;9(12):1632-43 from J Biol Chem. 2006 Feb 10;281(6):3604-13, but representing different experiment.

    See:

    Mol Cancer Res. 2011 Dec;9(12):1632-43. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-11-0327. Epub 2011 Oct 7. αB-crystallin, an effector of unfolded protein response, confers anti-VEGF resistance to breast cancer via maintenance of intracrine VEGF in endothelial cells.
    Qing Ruan1, Song Han2, Wen G. Jiang4, Michael E. Boulton1, Zhi J. Chen1, Brian K. Law3, and Jun Cai1
    Authors’ Affiliations: Departments of 1Anatomy & Cell Biology, 2Surgery, 3Pharmacology & Therapeutics, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida; and 4Department of Surgery, Metastasis and Angiogenesis Research Group, Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom
    Corresponding Author:
    Jun Cai, Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, University of Florida, 1600 SW Archer Road, Gainesville, FL 32610.

    Jun Cai present research fellow Cardiff University. https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/people/view/122858-cai-jun

    J Biol Chem. 2006 Feb 10;281(6):3604-13. Epub 2005 Dec 8.
    Pigment epithelium-derived factor inhibits angiogenesis via regulated intracellular proteolysis of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1.
    Cai J1, Jiang WG, Grant MB, Boulton M.
    Author information

    1
    School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Cardiff University, UK.

    Like

  12. Pingback: Latchman and Wohl Foundation: gifts that keep on giving – For Better Science

  13. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-43673670

    “Cardiff restaurant owner fined for cockroach on poppadom”.

    Why not fine “Cancer Researchers” for cockroach in drugs?

    Like

  14. https://www.qmul.ac.uk/media/news/2017/smd/qmul-academic-receives-chinas-highest-award-for-foreign-experts.html

    “Professor Nick Lemoine from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) has been awarded the China Friendship Award – the country’s highest award for ‘foreign experts who have made outstanding contributions to the country’s economic and social progress’.”

    2018 Pillar of “Gene Therapy” prize : Cancer Gene Ther. 2001 Apr;8(4):308-19.

    Cancer Gene Ther. 2001 Apr;8(4):308-19.
    Herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase/ganciclovir-induced cell death is enhanced by co-expression of caspase-3 in ovarian carcinoma cells.
    McNeish IA1, Tenev T, Bell S, Marani M, Vassaux G, Lemoine N.
    Author information
    1
    ICRF Molecular Oncology Unit, Imperial College School of Medicine, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK.

    Figure 5.

    Figure 1b.

    Figure 6D.

    Senior author presently: https://www.bci.qmul.ac.uk/en/staff/item/nick-lemoine
    Director Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University London.

    First author presently: http://www.imperial.ac.uk/people/i.mcneish
    Chair of oncology, Imperial College, London.

    Like

  15. http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/news-two/view/237331-professor-wen-jiang-wins-outstanding-achievement-award

    Cardiff University does not seem to believe in time.

    “Professor Wen Jiang wins outstanding achievement award
    The World Congress of Oncology, Athens, awards Outstanding Achievement Award to Professor Wen Jiang”

    That’s it folks!

    Like

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