Research integrity University Affairs

Spanish elites rally in support of data manipulation

Carlos Lopez-Otin was forced to retract EIGHT papers in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, right after he retracted a very important paper in Nature Cell Biology. Spanish elites cry foul, a letter signed by 50 Spanish researchers was sent to JBC to prevent retractions. The ringleader is Juan Valcarcel of CRG in Barcelona, and I release 3 incompetent investigative reports Valcarcel commissioned in 2015 to whitewash his CRG colleague Maria Pia Cosma.

A horrible, horrible conspiracy befell Spain. Worse than anything you can imagine: Carlos Lopez-Otin, a star of cancer and ageing research from the University of Oviedo, was forced to retract EIGHT papers in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC), right after he retracted a very important paper in Nature Cell Biology. Spanish elites cry foul, and point accusing fingers at the evil deed by JBC, and of course also at yours truly, without naming me, for my “virulent and libellous attacks” on poor Carlos. A letter signed by 50 Spanish researchers was sent to JBC trying to dissuade the journal from retracting the 8 papers. The ringleader here appears to be a certain Juan Valcarcel of CRG in Barcelona, and I shall use this occasion to release the 3 incompetent investigative reports Valcarcel commissioned in 2015 to whitewash his CRG colleague, the Italian zombie scientist Maria Pia Cosma.

All 8 Lopez-Otin retractions in the JBC issue from January 25th 2019 are similarly worded: some image data was found inappropriately manipulated or duplicated, after the journal used the occasion to scrutinise all the papers the Oviedo lab published there. Original data was not available, so the authors were asked to withdraw their papers. After which Lopez-Otin and his friends took to Spanish media to decry the injustice perpetrated by JBC.

screenshot_2019-01-30 table of contents — january 25, 2019, 294 (4)

Whitewashing Inc

The whole circus is somewhat similar to what happened in France, in the Catherine Jessus case, where another top-rank biologist became victim of my reporting and of PubPeer data analysis campaign instigated by my readers. Also in France, there was a whitewashing investigation, and a signature campaign in support (read here). The differences are: French newspaper Le Monde played a key part in uncovering the affair (and got huge flak for it), while Spanish media chose to leave the podium to Lopez-Otin and his supporters, largely unchallenged. Main difference however is: Jessus never hat to retract anything, the journals blinked and issued passive-aggressively worded corrections only.

JBC however has a different stance on data manipulation, and is unafraid to do mass-retraction if they see either excessive fraud or a pattern of recurrent data manipulation from the same lab. This happened to several other researchers, Rony Seger, Yehiel Zick or Samson T Jacob. When only one paper is found manipulated, it may be bad luck, a rogue student, the journal will issue a correction. Otherwise, it gets progressively more and more suspicious, especially if the only common name on these 8 papers is that of principal investigator, here Lopez-Otin. 

Apparently in Spain (similarly to France), the elites of science are either too crooked or too incompetent to understand this. So here comes a statement from the University of Oviedo, via its president, Santiago García Granda, from 28.01.2019, as announced in the local newspaper Asturias Mondial:

“Given the press reports about the recent withdrawal of several articles by the group of Professor at the University of Oviedo, Carlos López Otín, we as the institution express our full support for this research, his team and his work. The group of Professor López Otín has collaborated with publishers by providing all required information and kept the academic authorities informed at all times. Our support is based on the findings from an investigation conducted by the Ethics Committee of the University of Oviedo, and the analysis of the articles retracted from the Journal of Biological Chemistry by an expert group of Spanish scientists which sent its conclusions to the University.

These findings support the scientific validity of the published results despite the deficiencies found in some of these studies. The evidence analysed confirms the reliability of this research, as multiple studies by independent laboratories later corroborated it, based on the cited work. As mentioned in the statement of the Institute of Oncology, “reagents generated in these works, including plasmids, recombinant proteins, antibodies, etc., as well as the valuable animal models developed in this laboratory, have always been shared with dozens groups worldwide, allowing validation of the results described in numerous publications by international laboratories. In fact, many of the work done by this group has opened up new lines of research, up to now.”

In any case, the University of Oviedo reserves the right to take legal action to preserve the good name and reputation of our institution as well as to defend the honour and the reputation of the members of our university community, and to allow them to practice their scientific investigations, teaching and management”.

I am not sure whom the University of Oviedo meant to threaten here with legal action? Myself? I had this before, from another fake clown of a rector in Italy, Giorgio Zauli, and again from France, and that time it was the Government itself, on behalf of minister Frederique Vidal and her Ministry of Research and Innovation. 

If only Spanish biomedical elites could be interested in doing something about real injustice. Like, to call for an investigation of patient abuse and deaths caused by Paolo Macchiarini in Barcelona. This was where I actually was sentenced in court for, so maybe Lopez-Otin’s university and his Instituto Universitario de Oncología in Oviedo did speak of Macchiarini as another victim of mine, when their present and two past directors wrote in this press release (which was already quoted above):

“There have been very virulent and libellous attacks in some social networks, whose goals are completely away from constructive criticism and scientific debate. “We are facing a very complex media situation where attacks which compromise the activity of several research groups are carried out with impunity and whose main victims are leaders of groups with high research activity”.

induced fit

Save-Our-Carlos Letter

Now even the regional Government of Asturia expressed support for Lopez-Otin, because in Spain they do not separate between scientific and state issues. If this gets out of control, Spain might even send war ships to bomb the offices of JBC and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology:

“Also, the Minister Fernando Lastra, who spoke at the press conference as spokesman of the Governing Council, pointed personal relationship of the Asturian President, Javier Fernández, with the researcher so their support is even a “little beyond “the expression of recognition of their work by the Governing Council.”

Before that, we had the Ethics Committee at University of Oviedo whitewash Carlos-Otin, assisted by some unnamed external investigation, and finally, there was a letter to JBC signed by 50 scientists, as reported by El Mundo.:

“Fifty Spanish scientists also asked the journal not retract the papers completely, but to allow the correction of errors. But they found a ‘no’ for an answer.

“Mistakes must be corrected, but the retraction of the articles does a disservice to science,” says geneticist Juan Valcarcel, one of the scientists who has defended the work of Otín and coordinated the appeal to the journal.

“The detected errors do not affect in any way the research findings, which have been validated independently on multiple occasions and have served as a basis for further work as the development of animal models for understanding cancer progression. Nobody doubts its validity, ” says the researcher.

Beside him, the letter was signed by first class personalities in the field of science such as Margarita Salas, professor Ad Honorem Center Severo Ochoa Molecular Biology; Manuel Serrano, researcher at IRB Barcelona; Elias Campo, scientist at the Institute of Biomedical Research Pi i Sunyer Augus Barcelona; Cristina Garmendia, former Minister of Science; López-Barneo José, Institute of Biomedicine of Seville and Juan Bueren, Center for Energy, Environment and Technology in Madrid, among others.”

It is actually an exorcise in nepotism. Margarita Salas, the grand dame of Spanish biology, trained by the revered Nobelist Severo Ochoa, is herself the doctorate mentor of Lopez-Otin. Manuel Serrano is another star of Spanish life science, who also did PhD with Salas. His ex-wife is Maria Blasco, who is a regular coauthor of Lopez-Otin and another graduate of Salas. So is the signatory politician Cristina Garmendia, who is also a personal friend of Lopez-Otin since their common time in university. Elias Campo is Lopez-Otin’s co-author and has his own PubPeer record. Elsewhere Juan Bueren is mentionedanother newspaper names Jesús Ávila as a signatory, guess under whom he did his PhD? Exactly, Salas.

Salas is appalled by my and my readers’ behaviour: “I do not know who or how many are behind this, but have done unnecessary damage“, she also explained how to think properly of her Carlos and his data manipulations:

“For me he is, if not the best, one of the best researchers we have in Spain. Without a doubt, one of the most brilliant scientists. He has all my confidence, my support and my respect. His career is absolutely flawless”

 

The Maria Pia Cosma affair

But I would like to go back to Juan Valcarcel of CRG in Barcelona, the instigator of that letter to JBC. It is not the first time Valcarcel engages in whitewashing activities to help a colleague caught with manipulated data. I interacted with Valcarcel in 2015, on the affair of the CRG group leader Maria Pia Cosma, who story I later presented in this article. The issue was an “investigation” Valcarcel commissioned to declare that all those obviously duplicated bands in Cosma’s papers from her previous stints as PhD student at the infamous Università di Napoli “Federico II” in Italy and as postdoc at the Institute for Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna, Austria, were actually never ever duplicated.

These were the three papers:

Cosma MP, Cardone M, Charlemagne F, and Colantuoni V. (1998). Mutations in the extracellular domain cause RET loss of function by a dominant negative mechanism. Mol Cell Biol , Vol. 18 (6) :3321-9

Cosma MP, Panizza S and Nasmyth K (2001) Cdk1 triggers association of RNA
polymerase to cell cycle promoters only after recruitment of the mediator by
SBF. Molecular Cell, Vol. 7 (6): 1213-1220

Cosma MP, Tanaka T and Nasmyth K (1999) Ordered recruitment of transcription and chromatin remodeling factors to a cell cycle and developmentally regulated promoter. Cell ,Vol. 97 (3) : 299-311

These are the three investigative reports, here, here and here. Back then, I presented the excerpts on PubPeer for debate, see thread here.

The expert was in all three cases Josep Manel Rodríguez Sánchez, Senior Engineer in Computer Science from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. In the nutshell: whenever the expert found one single pixel difference between two bands, he used it as evidence to declare them as utterly unrelated. In detail, this was his methodology:

“Steps I followed:
1. Obtaining the original images published in the different articles with the highest possible quality. To do this, I downloaded the published article PDFs.

2. Visual Analysis: the first step was to determine visually if there was cause for a more
detailed examination. For this I used the best possible images that can be obtained. Specifically, I obtained the digital images contained in the cell.com website where the article was published.

3. Forensic Analysis: If necessary, the second step involved the forensic analysis of the
images to determine if the reasons of the comments were valid or not, or whether there
were additional evidences that might be detected.
This forensic analysis was performed with computer tools for the treatment of images,
basically the Adobe Photoshop version 2014 of which I have the corresponding
authorization for use. “

This is an embarrassing approach from an IT expert, who should know how compression works. If a gel band is digitally duplicated in an image, and the image is then compressed into a pdf, tiny pixel differences are bound to be discovered if you only search long enough. But these papers were done actually in pre-Photoshop days, and the bands are not likely to have been digitally duplicated. Back then, thermoprinter images from the gel camera were printed out, re-photographed and sent to the journal as figures. Another scientist, Heike Lange, recently had together with her former PhD advisor Roland Lill to correct a paper from around same time, after she admitted to having inadvertently printed out too many copies of the same band and collaged them together into one continuous western blot image. With such “analogue” duplication with print-outs, scissors and glue, there are bound to be even more pixel dissimilarities, even if otherwise bands look identical and neatly superimpose.

screenshot-drive.google.com-2019.01.30-13-56-13
How Sanchez proved to Valcarcel that the bands are not duplicated, Cosma et al Mol Cell 2001.
screenshot-drive.google.com-2019.01.30-13-58-45
A particularly egregious example. All aside, the upper band is much wider than the lower one, which makes it obvious they are not part of same gel lane.

Valcarcel explained to me in May 2015:

“While we are not ourselves experts in forensic analysis, the expert, who as you know was designated by the Official College of Computer Engineers of Catalonia, and whose reports are legally recognized (e.g. in a court of law), has stated that he took into account possible compression artifacts and used the best images available. Unfortunately records of original data are not available for the majority of the claims.”

I approached Sanchez with some of the criticisms his methodology met on PubPeer. This was how he replied back then:

” in deference to you and to CGR I have no objection to clarify that the images they use for the issuance of the report, as indicated in the are of the highest possible quality, in the following order:
* Original picture extracted from the documentation hanging on the web ( powerpoints and images )
* Extracted image of the PDF.The majority of the images were of the original powerpoint and in very few cases use images extracted from the pdf.
All it is known that the extracted image of the PDF may suffer some variation in the conversion process. I followed the recommendations of Dr. John Krueger from ORI ( The Office of Research Integrity ) in this aspect and perform the appropriate actions at the time of the analysis. I recommend the reading of a report published by Dr. Krueger (https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/assets/krueger_affidavit.pdf) for more details on the subject as well as tools and techniques that I have gleaned from the website of the ORI (http://ori.hhs.gov/advanced-forensic-actions ). In any case, try at all times avoid the effects of compression and compare images among themselves to the extent possible. “

screenshot-drive.google.com-2019.01.30-14-04-04
One has to be utterly clueless or a crook to declare those bands dissimilar (Figure 5, Cosma et MCB 1998)

In July 2015, Valcarcel wrote to me:

The forensic analysis of the expert assigned by the Official College of Computer Engineers of Catalonia is considered professionally and legally valid. Given this report, the absence of primary data and the corrections issued or in process in various Journals, we have decided to close the case.”

Just days after this email, Cell issued this editorial note (which I covered in my article at that time):

“Concerns about duplicated images in Cosma et al. (Cell, 1999) and Cosma et al. (2001, Mol. Cell 7, 1213–1220) were brought to our attention by a reader. We, the editors of Cell and Molecular Cell, have investigated the matter, communicating with the corresponding author, Dr. Kim Nasmyth; the first author, Dr. Pia Cosma; The Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP), where the research in question was conducted; and the Center for Genomic Regulation, Dr. Cosma’s current institute, which conducted its own investigation. The IMP located Dr. Cosma’s notebooks and provided her with high-resolution copies. As part of our investigation, Dr. Cosma brought those copies to the Cell Press office, where we went through them with her, identifying data for the figures in the paper. The notebooks contained original images, alternate exposures, and/or replicate data for most of the figures in the papers, providing support for the reported findings. In a few instances, original data could not be located, making it difficult to assess the concerns raised about those specific data panels.

While we understand the reasons that the figures in the paper were flagged by the community, in our judgment the burden of proof for determining inappropriate data handling or image duplication has not been met. Furthermore, the available original data support the findings of the papers. With these things in mind, based on the information available to us at this time, we have decided not to take any further action. This statement is to notify the community of our investigation and findings”.

screenshot-drive.google.com-2019.01.30-14-09-29
The lengths one goes to prove two identical bands were different. From Cosma et al Cell 1999

Valcarcel’s bullshittery, combined with the impressive fraud tolerance of Cell editor at that time, Emilie Marcus, as well as IMP’s obvious reluctance to damage their former director Kim Nasmyth, proved successful. The gel bands which most obviously look duplicated where proven to be not duplicated exactly because original data was available, though not specifically for these questioned figures.

Again, these are the three investigative reports, here, here and here.

Such a success story apparently prompted Valcarcel to try it once again (he even compares Lopez-Otin to Christopher Columbus here). Only that JBC is exactly the opposite of Cell in research ethics,  and apparently unafraid of bullshitting bullies like Valcarcel. He now looks very silly now. Serves him right.

-olr5yv7

And his friend Carlos? Hiding in Paris, with another dishonest elite scientist Guido Kroemer; one wonders if the “sabbatical” is paid from Lopez-Otin’s ERC grant. Maybe his wife Gloria Velasco (professor at the same department) continues supervising his research in the Oviedo lab. Soon the convalescing Spanish victim of persecution will be visiting the Galapagos islands, as his son tweeted. Not sure if Kroemer and/or his charming co-author, Laurence Zitvogel, will be joining Carlos there.


 

 

Update 4.02.2019.  Events happen quite fast, if you want to keep track, follow my comment section and tweets. In particular:

  • Some months ago, almost 6000 of Lopez-Otin’s transgenic mice had to be culled due to a mysterious infection.
  • Right-wing newspaper El Comercio and the rector of Oviedo fingered certain Oviedo scientists as masterminds behind my reporting, these claims are made up, I never had any sources in Spain

 

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198 comments on “Spanish elites rally in support of data manipulation

  1. Thank the science gods for JBC, and the arrogance of fakers who publish therein. The Nature family (barring mama herself) are also to be praised for clearing out the garbage. I think we have a fair sampling of the outputs from this gang, and can take it as read that the rest is crap as well, although well ensconced in retraction-shy publications. The minute they accuse you of libel by name, get your lawyers after them.

    Like

    • Magnus Alvergard

      JBC was the premium journal back in the 90s. Then the impact factor game came and this changed

      Like

  2. From the list of people who wrote a letter of support for Carlos Lopez-Otin,

    “Manuel Serrano, researcher at IRB Barcelona”,

    did not seem to notice problematic data in a 2006 Nature paper, where he was senior and corresponding author, as it was not retracted until 2017.

    https://retractionwatch.com/2017/07/12/nature-retracts-paper-stem-cell-scientist-appealing-dismissal/
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/A11F4C0AAB8E847EC737DBBB434D49

    Manuel Serrano still does not notice problematic data in papers, where he is co-author:-

    Correction to this paper does not address the multiple problematic western blot panels.
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/76D41452BFD0AE703A3A476E77DFED

    Manuel Serrano is penultimate author on this paper, but does not notice the frequent problematic data.
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/ABB7746FD5493450293B8B1F2BBA61

    Again penultimate author, but does not notice any problematic data.
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/7726499A135DF6A597014E16753C36

    Like

  3. Can Spain learn? E.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Zacuto
    “With the general expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, Zacuto took refuge in Lisbon, Portugal.”

    Like

    • The problem is that the Jews who were the ones who helped with the brightest period of Portugal history the discoveries in the 15th and 16th centuries were further expulsed from Portugal
      At this time point they are only worried in saving their skin because they all eat from the same dish as we say in Portuguese so if one falls the remaining ones may loose as well their previledges all of this supported by politicians who eventually become members of governments i.e. a highly structured gang

      Like

  4. “goals are completely away from constructive criticism and scientific debate”

    Who says criticism has to be “constructive”? A bit of a contradiction. Most people understand that criticism is negative otherwise it would not be criticism. Praise might be a better word, but what is praiseworthy? How can you construct something if the foundations (data) are lacking. Scientific debate does not have to be “constructive” either. Why smother criticism with court etiquette?

    Like

    • adamselwith

      How well thought-through is this comment? Criticism doesn’t “have to” be (no obligation) constructive, but: it “can” be (i.e. it can be built that way).

      Debate, well, it’s about incremental criticisms, improvements, counter-criticisms, and so on, in self-repeating cycles.

      In any case, is “hard water” a contradiction? Is invisible light (waves) a contradiction?

      Like

  5. Hi Leonid,

    Let me start with a quote from Monty Python “… nobody expects the spanish inquisition…”,
    anyway, another slam dunk by you. And a giant step for integrity in science thanks to JBC.
    Why does anyone in Spain still insist of doing any business/science with Lopez-Otin is a mistery to me.

    He should be shunned as an outcast and never heard from again!!

    Cheers, Oliver

    Liked by 1 person

  6. https://www.20minutos.es/noticia/3549000/0/bioquimico-victor-quesada-defiende-labor-lopez-otin-sostiene-que-errores-no-afectan-conclusiones/

    El bioquímico Víctor Quesada defiende la labor de López Otín y sostiene que “los errores no afectan a las conclusiones”

    The biochemist Víctor Quesada defends the work of López Otín and argues that “errors do not affect the conclusions”

    Victor Quesda is conflicted as he has 55 publications with López Otín.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Quesada+v+lopez-otin

    Including 2 publications which were corrected in 2018.

    J Biol Chem. 2003 Apr 11;278(15):13382-9. Epub 2003 Jan 31.
    Identification and characterization of ADAMTS-20 defines a novel subfamily of metalloproteinases-disintegrins with multiple thrombospondin-1 repeats and a unique GON domain.
    Llamazares M1, Cal S, Quesada V, López-Otín C.
    Author information
    1
    Departamento de Bioquíimica y Biologíia Molecular, Facultad de Medicina, Instituto Universitario de Oncologíia, Universidad de Oviedo, 33006-Oviedo, Spain.

    2018 correction.
    http://www.jbc.org/content/293/30/11785.short
    In Fig. 4A, the actin panel for the Northern blot containing spleen, thymus, prostate, testis, ovary, intestine, colon, and leukocyte samples was inadvertently rotated 180°. Since the amount of RNA in each lane was equivalent, this change does not affect the results for the Northern blot detecting ADAMTS-20. Additionally, the actin panels shown in this figure were reused from previous publications describing the hybridization of other human genes to a different set of the same commercial filters used in this article (Multiple Tissue polyA Northern blots, Clontech). This commercial product was guaranteed by the manufacturer to have equal loading (approximately 2 μg of polyadenylated RNA per lane). Therefore, the corrected version of Fig. 4A is provided in which these panels are omitted. The authors apologize for any inconvenience these errors may have caused. This correction does not affect the results or conclusions of this work.

    J Biol Chem. 2005 Jan 21;280(3):1953-61. Epub 2004 Nov 9.
    Human polyserase-2, a novel enzyme with three tandem serine protease domains in a single polypeptide chain.
    Cal S1, Quesada V, Llamazares M, Díaz-Perales A, Garabaya C, López-Otín C.
    Author information
    1
    Departamento de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular, Facultad de Medicina, Instituto Universitario de Oncología, Universidad de Oviedo, 33006 Oviedo, Spain.

    2018 correction.
    http://www.jbc.org/content/293/30/11784.short
    There was an error in Fig. 3. The actin panel for the Northern blot containing spleen, thymus, prostate, testis, ovary, intestine, colon, and leukocyte samples was inadvertently rotated 180 degrees. Since the amount of RNA in each lane was equivalent, this error does not alter the interpretation of the results shown in the figure. Additionally, the actin panels shown in this figure were reused from previous publications describing the hybridization of other human genes to a different set of the same commercial filters used in this article (Multiple Tissue poly(A) Northern blots, Clontech). This commercial product was guaranteed by the manufacturer to have equal loading (approximately 2 μg of polyadenylated RNA per lane). Therefore, the corrected version of Fig. 3 is provided in which these panels are omitted. The authors apologize for these errors. This correction does not affect the results or conclusions of this work.

    Like

    • Víctor Quesada has a 2019 retraction of a 2003 paper with López-Otín.

      J Biol Chem. 2003 Feb 7;278(6):3671-8. Epub 2002 Nov 21.
      Human autophagins, a family of cysteine proteinases potentially implicated in cell degradation by autophagy.
      Mariño G1, Uría JA, Puente XS, Quesada V, Bordallo J, López-Otín C.
      Author information
      1
      Departamento de Bioquimíca y Biología Molecular, Facultad de Medicina, Instituto Universitario de Oncología, Universidad de Oviedo, Spain.

      2019 retraction notice.
      http://www.jbc.org/content/294/4/1431

      This article has been withdrawn by the authors upon request from the Journal. The Journal raised questions regarding Figs. 3 and 4A. The authors were able to locate original data for some panels, and for the others, the authors state that new experiments were performed. The authors assert that all of the results reported in this article are valid, some of which have been validated in the literature by different groups (e.g. Choi et al. (2011) Autophagy 7, 1052; Hemelaar et al. (2003) J. Biol. Chem. 278, 51841; Shu et al. (2010) Autophagy 6, 936; Tanida et al. (2004) Int. J. Biochem. Cell. Biol. 36, 2503).

      Like

      • Víctor Quesada has a 2019 retraction of a 2005 paper with López-Otín. That makes 2 retractions with López-Otín. Víctor Quesada is conflicted.

        J Biol Chem. 2005 Apr 8;280(14):14310-7. Epub 2005 Feb 1.
        Identification of human aminopeptidase O, a novel metalloprotease with structural similarity to aminopeptidase B and leukotriene A4 hydrolase.
        Díaz-Perales A1, Quesada V, Sánchez LM, Ugalde AP, Suárez MF, Fueyo A, López-Otín C.
        Author information
        1
        Departamento de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular and Biología Funcional, Facultad de Medicina, Instituto Universitario de Oncología, Universidad de Oviedo, 33006 Oviedo, Spain.

        See: https://pubpeer.com/publications/570E7CEB0B8FA108DB091C7A7E8037#1
        and https://pubpeer.com/publications/570E7CEB0B8FA108DB091C7A7E8037#2

        2019 retraction notice.
        http://www.jbc.org/content/294/4/1433
        This article has been withdrawn by the authors upon request from the Journal. The Journal raised questions regarding Fig. 4, A and B. The authors were able to locate the original autoradiographs corresponding to Fig. 4A, detecting two duplicated GAPDH control bands. In Fig. 4B, an actin lane appears to be duplicated. Since the original data for the experiment shown in Fig. 4B, performed 13 years ago, could not be found, the authors state that a new experiment was performed using RNA from mouse testis from different ages (10–74 days). The authors state that the AP-O expression results concur with an RNA-seq–based transcriptomic analysis reported independently by other researchers (Margolin et al. (2014) BMC Genomics 15, 39). The authors assert that all of the results reported in this article are valid.

        Like

  7. Need a simpler disclaimer. How about: “The results presented do not affect the conclusions of this work.” Saves time.

    Like

  8. good read. Learned something new: how to do a low-quality almost embarrassing white-washing and call it forensic image analysis.

    Like

  9. In order to proper address the mentioned letter signed by 50 Spanish “researchers” sent to JBC trying to dissuade the journal from retracting the 8 papers, I will send a letter to the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities in Spain and the University of Oviedo with copies to funding agencies.

    In this letter I will ask for an independent investigation of the López-Otín lab due to the many retractions and additional concerns discussed at Pubpeer.

    I hope that as many as possible will support this letter by sending a confirmation with your name and affiliation either by mail (truesciencecommunity@gmail.com) or here.

    Like

    • Dont waste your time with letters sent to the Spanish institutions, I am from Spain and know nothing about biology but I understand how the common mindset works – do not challenge power and wait sheepishly for your turn. Only a similar letter sent to the European Union institutions could have some effect

      Like

  10. Ay Leonidas que usted mismo se desacredita haciendo comentarios personales sobre Guido-su mujer y Otín.
    For Better Science ¿Really?

    Like

    • Dr Zitvogel is key coauthor on a number of photoshopped papers, and (Zebedee can tell you more) has her own PubPeer record, independent of her life partner, Dr Kroemer. Their hosting of Dr Lopez-Otin must be inspired by their common interest in research integrity as a tool to cure cancer.
      https://www.lejdd.fr/Societe/Sante/Laurence-Zitvogel-et-Guido-Kroemer-l-amour-contre-le-cancer-827302
      https://pubpeer.com/search?q=zitvogel

      Like

      • Magnus Alvergard

        Ha, ha, you do your resarch… I did not know about Gloria Velasco been his wife.

        Like

      • Dear “Magnus Alvergard”, I have deleted some of your comments for following reasons:
        1. You use a fake email address and scrambled IP-addresses (geolocated all over the world).
        2. You keep trolling a whistleblower in Gonzalez case, after I announced this debate to be over
        3. You now tried to post a comment luring another source of mine to get in touch with you.

        Like

    • I totally agree. This allegedly “heroic” fight for better science sounds more like a gossip column in the gutter press.
      [this comment came from a location near Oviedo, acc to IP address. -LS]

      Like

      • What do think about the data in the papers being discussed?

        Like

      • What sounds like gutter press is the unanimous defense of Otin based on “envy”, without providing any evidence. The standards of transparency in Spain are still very far from those demanded by serious publications. The commonsensical reaction would have been to apologise, not call all the papers and make this childish fuss

        Like

  11. “Margarita Salas, the grand dame of Spanish biology, trained by the revered Nobelist Severo Ochoa, is herself the doctorate mentor of Lopez-Otin.”

    J Virol. 2002 Apr;76(8):3936-42.
    African swine fever virus IAP-like protein induces the activation of nuclear factor kappa B.
    Rodríguez CI1, Nogal ML, Carrascosa AL, Salas ML, Fresno M, Revilla Y.
    Author information
    1
    Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa, Universidad Autónoma, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain.

    See: https://pubpeer.com/publications/86A3C0F9F2D138C79192A527730EEA#4

    Like

    • Salas ML= María L. Salas

      Like

    • Magnus Alvergard

      I think that Salas has a clean sheet of retractions by now, not sure tought

      Like

      • http://www.jbc.org/content/277/8/6733.long
        February 22, 2002 The Journal of Biological Chemistry 277, 6733-6742.
        The Bacillus subtilis Phage φ29 Protein p16.7, Involved in φ29 DNA Replication, Is a Membrane-localized Single-stranded DNA-binding Protein*
        Alejandro Serna-Rico‡, Margarita Salas§ and Wilfried J. J. Meijer¶
        – Author Affiliations

        From the Centro de Biologı́a Molecular Severo Ochoa (CSIC-UAM), Universidad Autónoma, Canto Blanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain.

        Figure 5.

        Like

  12. http://www.jbc.org/content/279/48/50437.long
    November 26, 2004 The Journal of Biological Chemistry 279, 50437-50445.
    Phage φ29 DNA Replication Organizer Membrane Protein p16.7 Contains a Coiled Coil and a Dimeric, Homeodomain-related, Functional Domain*
    Daniel Muñoz-Espín‡, Mauricio G. Mateu, Laurentino Villar, Anabel Marina, Margarita Salas§ and Wilfried J. J. Meijer¶
    – Author Affiliations

    Instituto de Biología Molecular “Eladio Viñuela” (CSIC) Centro de Biología Molecular “Severo Ochoa” (CSIC-UAM) Universidad Autónoma, Canto Blanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain.

    Figure 6B. There are only 2 lanes.

    See:

    Like

  13. http://www.jbc.org/content/278/35/33482.long
    August 29, 2003 The Journal of Biological Chemistry 278, 33482-33491.
    Verónica Truniger‡, José M. Lázaro, Miguel de Vega, Luis Blanco and Margarita Salas§
    – Author Affiliations

    Instituto de Biologáa Molecular “Eladio Viñuela” (CSIC), Centro de Biologáa Molecular “Severo Ochoa” (CSIC-UAM), Universidad Autónoma, Canto Blanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain.

    Figure 4. L384Q panel. Vertical splicing at the top of the panel, but not lower down in the panel.

    See:

    Like

  14. An infectious outbreak forced to sacrifice the thousands of mice with which he was investigating
    https://www.elcomercio.es/asturias/brote-infeccioso-obligo-20190131002134-ntvo.html

    Like

    • Wait, so just as when University of Oviedo investigated Lopez-Otin and found all his research 100% reliable, with a big stress on his mouse models, and how trustworthy and useful these mice are, this happened?
      “There were about 6,000 animals when, last year, an infectious outbreak with a murine virus was detected in these facilities that forced evicting them and sacrificing irretrievably all its inhabitants to sterilize the vivarium. It was a severe blow for Lopez-Otín and his team. Not surprisingly, it were the mice he worked for more than two decades on to achieve a certain genetic modification. Without these valuable animals which he is dependent on to move forward, he is expected to suspend much of the research being carried out in his laboratory. University of Oviedo itself acknowledges that “these events are causing a huge backlog” in the work of researchers affected.”
      https://www.elcomercio.es/asturias/brote-infeccioso-obligo-20190131002134-ntvo.html

      Hello???

      Like

  15. The leader of the Asturian Government and The Minister of Health of the Government of the Principality of Asturias, Francisco del Busto, speak in support of Carlos López Otín.

    https://www.lavanguardia.com/local/asturias/20190131/46130341568/del-busto-dice-que-la-categoria-cientifica-y-humana-de-otin-esta-por-encima-de-dudas-intencionadas.html

    “El consejero de Sanidad del Gobierno del Principado de Asturias, Francisco del Busto, ha tenido este jueves palabras de apoyo para el investigador y catedrático en el área de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular en el departamento de Bioquímica de la Universidad de Oviedo, Carlos López Otín (Sabiñánigo, Huesca, 1958).”

    “The Minister of Health of the Government of the Principality of Asturias, Francisco del Busto, this Thursday has words of support for the researcher and professor in the area of ​​Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the Department of Biochemistry of the University of Oviedo, Carlos López Otín ( Sabiñánigo, Huesca, 1958).”

    “”Pienso de todo corazón que la categoría científica pero también humana de Carlos López Otín, está por encima de las dudas intencionadas que se han suscitado en torno a una pequeña parte de su enorme contribución a la ciencia y que el propio profesor Otín se encargará de aclarar y explicar suficientemente”, ha dicho Del Busto en una intervención que ha realizado en la II Jornada de innovación de la Fundación para la Investigación y la Innovacion Biosanitaria (Finba) – Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria de Asturias (ISPA).”

    “”I think with all my heart that the scientific but also human category of Carlos López Otín, is above the intentional doubts that have arisen around a small part of his enormous contribution to science and that Professor Otín himself will take care of clarify and explain sufficiently, “Del Busto said in an intervention that has made in the II Conference of innovation of the Foundation for Research and Innovation Biosanitaria (Finba) – Health Research Institute of Asturias (ISPA).”

    “En su discurso, el consejero asturiano ha querido que su primer mensaje se para “uno de los nuestros”, en referencia a Otín, al que ha calificado como “una de las figuras más insignes de la investigación de excelencia que ha dado nuestro país, un referente internacional en su campo, un científico de primer orden que es un verdadero lujo para la Universidad de Oviedo pero también para el conjunto de la sociedad asturiana y que, nos consta a todos, está pasando unos momentos difíciles”.”

    “In his speech, the Asturian councilor wanted his first message to be “one of ours”, in reference to Otín, whom he has qualified as “one of the most distinguished figures of the research of excellence that our country has given, an international benchmark in his field, a first-rate scientist who is a true luxury for the University of Oviedo but also for the whole of Asturian society and that, we all know, is having a difficult time. “”

    “El dirigente del Gobierno asturiano ha dicho que espera que el reconocimiento a Carlos López Otin sirva también para ilustrar en qué medida el mundo de la investigación científica de calidad, de la innovación, de la excelencia, es un campo enormemente “competitivo y apasionante”, que conjuga “diversos intereses de todo tipo”, pero que es “un enorme motor de progreso porque en este ámbito de la investigación médica más avanzada se están manejando algunas de las claves del progreso, de nuestro devenir como especie, del desarrollo individual de muchísimas personas, pero también del futuro de la humanidad”.

    “The leader of the Asturian Government has said that he hopes that the recognition of Carlos López Otin will also serve to illustrate to what extent the world of scientific research of quality, innovation, excellence, is a hugely “competitive and exciting” field, which combines “diverse interests of all kinds”, but which is “an enormous engine of progress because in this area of ​​the most advanced medical research some of the keys of progress, of our becoming as a species, of the individual development of many people, but also the future of humanity. “”

    Like

  16. Francisco del Busto: ”I think with all my heart….”. In science we believe in facts, not in an individual’s feelings.

    Does anyone has an overview of the timeline for the incidence with the 6000 sacrified mice vs start of the allegations and “investigation” and retractions?

    Like

    • Welcome back, the real Morty!

      Some of the problematic data made public September 2017 at Pubpeer.
      Pupbeer now states number of years ago, but used to date the comments.
      https://pubpeer.com/publications/10FB7126BF313F0A591E72548FE73D

      First article by leonid 19 Dec 2017.
      https://forbetterscience.com/2017/12/19/nature-rewards-data-manipulation-with-a-mentoring-award/

      The latter would have a wider audience.

      “6000 sacrified mice”.

      https://www.elcomercio.es/asturias/brote-infeccioso-obligo-20190131002134-ntvo.html

      “There were about 6,000 animals when, last year, an infectious outbreak with a murine virus was detected in these facilities that forced evicting them and sacrificing irretrievably all its inhabitants to sterilize the vivarium.”

      Infections are a real and severe problem in mouse facilites, but there are usually ways to rescue some of the mice.
      Zero out of 6,000 rescued?

      Like

      • More information: the cull of all of Carlos’ mice happened “a few months” ago. Carlos left to stay with Guido and Laurence in Paris in July 2018, so it happened afterwards.
        https://www.20minutos.es/noticia/3552221/0/mas-5-000-ratones-con-que-investigaba-lopez-otin-sacrificados-por-infeccion/
        Also from the article:
        En cualquier caso, tanto en Asturias como en París, Otín señala que ha sido víctima de acoso. “El acoso pretende terminar con la destrucción del acosado. Cuando la situación alcanza a científicos reconocidos, el acosador y sus redes no sueltan a su presa hasta el final. En algunos países es un fenómeno que ha causado ya preocupación. Como se puede imaginar, hace falta ser muy fuerte para soportarlo y ya se han dado varios casos de suicidios entre los acosados”, responde en una parte de la entrevista.
        “Tampoco olvido que algunas de las personas que trabajaron en el laboratorio en el pasado están sufriendo el mismo acoso y la misma indefensión que yo padezco. Y por último recuerdo a los que animan a responder con agresividad, que pretendo recuperar mi estabilidad mental y no acabar engrosando la lista de los que se defendieron en un terreno que no es el nuestro, perdieron, y se suicidaron. Así de claro y así de fuerte es el juego”, añade López Otín.

        In any case, both in Asturias and in Paris, Otín indicates that he has been a victim of harassment. “The harassment aims to end the destruction of the victim, when the situation reaches recognized scientists, the harasser and his networks do not release their prey until the end, in some countries it is a phenomenon that has already caused concern. It is necessary to be very strong to endure it and there have already been several cases of suicide among the harassed, “he responds in a part of the interview. “I also do not forget that some of the people who worked in the laboratory in the past are suffering the same harassment and the same helplessness that I suffer from, and finally I remember those who encourage me to respond with aggression, who intend to recover my mental stability and not end up swelling the list of those who defended themselves in a terrain that is not ours, they lost, and they committed suicide. That’s how clear and how strong the game is, “adds López Otín.

        Like

      • When you place your mouse (not the one among the poor 6,000) on the Pubpeer message, an exact time stamp will come up. I tried to post a screenshot for that but Leonid’s site prevented me doing that.

        Like

      • “Some of the problematic data made public September 2017 at Pubpeer.
        Pupbeer now states number of years ago, but used to date the comments.”

        https://pubpeer.com/publications/10FB7126BF313F0A591E72548FE73D

        Time stamp for Pubpeer page above.
        commented September 24th, 2017 7:05 PM and accepted September 24th, 2017 9:05 PM

        Thanks to advice from
        虎仔 (@TigerBB8)
        February 4, 2019
        When you place your mouse (not the one among the poor 6,000) on the Pubpeer message, an exact time stamp will come up. I tried to post a screenshot for that but Leonid’s site prevented me doing that.

        Like

  17. I am sure they did not keep any tails for genotyping.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pedro Villarías López

    The mistakes affect the conclusions of the papers…¿yes or not?

    Like

  19. Pedro Villarías López

    The defense of Mr.Otin et al. is that it is all about minor mistakes that don´t invalide the conclusions of the articles and, the key point, that the results had been duplicated by others. Than you.

    Like

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