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Manchester: “research misconduct concerned only one member of the research group”

The University of Manchester found out that someone has secretly manipulated data in the papers of their star cancer researcher, Richard Marais. Who might that be?

On 16 April 2019, the University of Manchester in UK issued this public announcement:

Research misconduct statement

The University convened a panel in accordance with the procedures contained within our Code of Practice for Investigating Concerns about the Conduct of Research to investigate an allegation of potential research misconduct. The complaint, which was raised by the Director of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, Professor Richard Marais, concerned discrepancies discovered by the Director relating to data from work conducted in his own research group.

Girotti Marais

[Photo source: CRUK]

“The Panel upheld the complaint and determined that it constituted research misconduct under 4.3 (h) of the Code of Practice “Fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or deception in proposing, carrying out or reporting the results of research.”, specifically fabrication and falsification. Following a review, requested by the individual being investigated, the conclusions of the Panel of Investigation were upheld.“The research misconduct concerned only one member of the research group who left the University in September 2016. The Panel found no evidence during the investigation to suggest any research misconduct by the other members of the research group. In accordance with our procedures, the affected funders, co-authors and journals will be notified and the record of research will be corrected.“The University of Manchester is committed to fostering the highest standards of research integrity and we expect the highest standards of research integrity from the researchers we support. These standards are set out in our Code of Good Research Conduct.

Update 28.06.2019: the press release was deleted this week, here a backup from Google cache and a screenshot.


A source informed me that the accused scientist might be the Argentinian melanoma cancer researcher Maria Romina Girotti, who used to work in Richard Marais‘s lab between 2011 and 2016, first at the huge cancer research institute ICR London, and then in Manchester. During that time the young shooting star of melanoma research coauthored 20 papers with Marais, including two in Cancer Cell which according to my source might be now up for retraction. Or maybe not, knowing how Cell Press works. Also, a melanoma clinical trial started in Manchester in 2015 based on Girotti’s possibly flawed research, which was celebrated with a Young Investigator award from European Cancer Organisation in 2015. That phase 1 clinical trial is now completed according to update from 12 June 2019, according to ClinicalTrials website, but no results have been posted yet. Maybe Girotti’s discoveries never led anywhere, since since the update in 2016 its “recruiting” status was dropped.

girotti getimage

As aside, the University of Manchester is a special place where research integrity seems to be applied on a case-by-case basis. Almost exactly 10 years ago, a huge fraud affair shook Germany, when the pseudonymous image integrity sleuth Clare Francis blew the whistle on the immunologist Silvia Bulfone-Paus. At the end of the affair, two Russian postdocs got the blame, while Bulfone-Paus resigned from her tenured position as director of Research Centre Borstel and retracted 12 papers. Also her husband Ralf Paus was investigated, which proved tricky because the guilty Russians were not among coauthors of manipulated papers. You know where this is going, right? Bulfone Paus (just like her husband) is professor at University of Manchester, she is even funded by Cancer Research UK (if you recall, Marais is director of the local CRUK institute).

But now back to the Manchester’s most photogenic former researcher Girotti, who never replied to my email. There was also a British Association of Cancer Research Translational Award for her in 2015, and an award from Society for Melanoma Research, and another Early Career Research Award from the Biochemical Society, which followed in 2016. Girotti was quoted:

“I am absolutely thrilled to receive this award. I would like to thank my supervisor Prof Richard Marais for nominating me and for being such an amazing mentor. To work in his team is a privilege one and certainly one of the most important steps in my scientific career”.

Cw1F6jTXcAAcqz4 girotti
Found in Google cache, but the source, Girotti’s Twitter profile, is gone.

Girotti is presently named as professor at the Argentinean Enterprise University (UADE) and is employed at a CONICET research institute in Buenos Aires in her home country Argentina, where she is listed as member of the team of the immunologist and cancer researcher Gabriel Rabinovich. Less than 3 weeks ago Rabinovich posed with Girotti for a photo-op on the occasion of their recent common paper in Cancer Cell, Segovia et al 2019. Interestingly, as soon as I wrote to Rabinovich, the lab’s website went completely offline and came back after I tweeted at Rabinovich with an archived copy. Girotti’s personal Twitter profile (which had no new tweets for some time) was deleted permanently. Her company G4h (Genes for Health), which she runs together with her husband, another UADE professor, is still online.

My source informed me that two big papers are set for retraction due to fabricated mouse data. Which suggests it might be these papers:

Girotti MR, Lopes F, Preece N, Niculescu-Duvaz D, Zambon A, Davies L, Whittaker S, Saturno G, Viros A, Pedersen M, Suijkerbuijk BMJM, Menard D, McLeary R, Johnson L, Fish L, Ejiama S, Sanchez-Laorden B, Hohloch J, Carragher N, Macleod K, Ashton G, Marusiak AA, Fusi A, Brognard J, Frame M, Lorigan P, Marais R, Springer C.

Paradox-Breaking RAF Inhibitors that Also Target SRC Are Effective in Drug-Resistant BRAF Mutant Melanoma.

Cancer Cell. 2017 Mar 13;31(3):466. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2017.02.007.

Girotti MR, Lopes F, Preece N, Niculescu-Duvaz D, Zambon A, Davies L, Whittaker S, Saturno G, Viros A, Pedersen M, Suijkerbuijk BM, Menard D, McLeary R, Johnson L, Fish L, Ejiama S, Sanchez-Laorden B, Hohloch J, Carragher N, Macleod K, Ashton G, Marusiak AA, Fusi A, Brognard J, Frame M, Lorigan P, Marais R, Springer C.

Paradox-breaking RAF inhibitors that also target SRC are effective in drug-resistant BRAF mutant melanoma.

Cancer Cell. 2015 Jan 12;27(1):85-96. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2014.11.006.

The last author Caroline Springer, who also moved to Manchester from ICR London, did not reply to my emails (admittedly those were short notices). Her latter paper with Girotti was already corrected in 2016 for image duplication:

“The authors have noted an error in Figure 6A of the originally published version of this article. The image for pERK (top right panel) was incorrectly duplicated from Figure 4E (top right panel). The corrected Figure 6 is shown here. This error does not alter the original conclusions of the study, but the authors wish to apologize for this oversight and any confusion that may have resulted.”

Maybe the conclusions are affected after all, in view of the recent misconduct findings? A paper in Nature from Marais lab, Viros et al 2014, coauthored by Girotti, was corrected in 2015 for an error in the transcribed sequence of a mutated allele.

Marais himself was exonerated from all suspicion according to the press release of his university. Which is just as well, since the director of the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Manchester Institute was recently put forward as President of American Association for cancer Research (AACR), an enormous status achievement which cannot be tainted by any misconduct association. Marais was not elected in any case. The only communication I received from him was this, 3 weeks after I originally wrote to him asking about Girotti’s role:

“As the complainant in this case I have handed the matter to the University of Manchester Research Governance, Ethics and Integrity Team and it would therefore be inappropriate for me to comment”.

Marais never replied since. Incidentally, many of Marais’ common papers with Girotti appeared in AACR journals, most often in Cancer Discovery. Shall we assume these are perfectly reliable then, like this paper:

Maria R. Girotti, Malin Pedersen, Berta Sanchez-Laorden, Amaya Viros, Samra Turajlic, Dan Niculescu-Duvaz, Alfonso Zambon, John Sinclair, Andrew Hayes, Martin Gore, Paul Lorigan, Caroline Springer, James Larkin, Claus Jorgensen, Richard Marais

Inhibiting EGF Receptor or SRC Family Kinase Signaling Overcomes BRAF Inhibitor Resistance in Melanoma

Cancer Discovery (2013) doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.cd-12-0386

But what about Marais’ other papers where Girotti was not a coauthor, in fact even from the times before she joined his lab? There is an interesting PubPeer record, it is a pity University of Manchester decided not to look that way. Two collaborative papers are very problematic (here and here), but also those straight from Marais lab are not always paradigms of exemplary figure assembly practice. Mostly there is a lot of gel splicing, not always acceptable even by the standards of the time. But this paper (discussed on PubPeer), published in an AACR journal by AACR’s presidential candidate, needs particular attention:

Victoria Emuss , Mathew Garnett , Clive Mason , Richard Marais

Mutations of C-RAF are rare in human cancer because C-RAF has a low basal kinase activity compared with B-RAF

Cancer Research (2005) doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.can-05-1683


What we are expected to believe is that we see the same western blot, probed for total C-RAF protein (top, also serves as its own loading control) and for phosphorylated C-RAF (bottom). That is obviously not true, because the bottom image is spliced, meaning it shows a different gel (or maybe even two gels) spliced. Worse, someone chose to remove or “adjust” the signal in the last lane (RAS) of the total C-RAF blot using a rectangular patch in Photoshop. This is blatant data manipulation. But then again, in that paper the authors apparently committed it willy-nilly, for no other reason than to pretend that an experiment was done more than once:

Another non-Girotti paper from Marais lab, Tang et al Nature Communications 2017, was criticised on PubPeer because the published figures did not match the raw data (the Nature family journal require deposition of full-size original gel images, a very useful feature):

“Figure 4j: the pY1068EGFR blot does not correspond with the other blots.

Figure 1c: the LOX blots seem to be retrieved from a different gel when comparing with the corresponding blots, please see the raw data supplied.

Supplementary figure 1c: raw data indicates that different parts of the blots have been used. E.g. lanes 2-4 are used for the py1068EGFR blot, but lanes 4-6 are used for the other corresponding blots.

Supplementary figure 3f: similar issue as suppl figure 1c. Raw data shows that different parts of the blots have been used, and the blots have different number of lanes. Therefore LOX, MATN2 and GAPDH cannot have been run on the same gel.”

Basically, total and phospho-proteins were analysed on different gels and the loading control was run on yet another gel, instead of probing each gel for equal loading as in fact Nature journals expect from their authors. A questionable research practice which not only does not account for technicalities of western blot, but also demands enormous trust in the authors’ personal scientific integrity.

It is rather obvious that this unorthodox approach to western blot analysis did not happen behind Morais back. One can reasonably expect him to read at least those papers from his lab submitted to elite journals like Cancer Cell and Nature Communications. Maybe this relaxed attitude to controls is what makes for such breakthrough discoveries and such a stellar career in cancer research?

Marais arrived to the University of Manchester from ICR London, where he once coauthored a manipulated paper Sharp et al 2007, in AACR journal Cancer Research. Last author was ICR London President Paul Workman, while one co-investigator on the aforementioned melanoma clinical trial in London is Udai Banerji, another ICR professor and close collaborator of Workman. After my reporting nudged ICR to at least correct some of Workman’s papers, Banerji and Workman acted as unofficial internal investigators of their own papers and quickly flushed out the real perpetrators, namely their female colleagues.

Banerji even went so far as boldly to explain on PubPeer how cancer research is done properly:

“parallel gels were run and blotted with the […] antibodies. This is a common, reliable and widely accepted approach when the proteins being analysed are close in molecular weight”

Common and widely accepted at ICR London maybe. Now you know why these scientists are swamped in grant and charity money, while you pathetic loser toil with your ridiculous loading controls.

Correction: in the earlier article version, Marais was named as AACR president-elect. He was only put forward as candidate.

Update 22.06.2019

Because I received no further emails and no requests to keep the communications confidential, I am quoting those first hand sources messages from 18.06.2019, which replace the earlier update.

Romina Girotti wrote to me this:

I am innocent of the findings the University has reported and I am a victim of the procedure started by the Director of the Institute. I would be grateful if you refrain to keep this post online, which is an attack on my reputation, until my further contact as I want to be able to tell my side of the story. I am not able to share with you at this stage the grounds for my appeal but the investigation process has been biased, unfair and based on a factual error. The University says I have to wait for the outcome of this appeal and, either result, I would be happy to talk to you at a later stage. I would like to mention that Professor Gabriel Rabinovich is not involved in any way in this case.”

Gabriel Rabinovich wrote this:

“I was certainly shocked with the news. As you mentioned in your article, this affair took place when Dr. Girotti was performing her postdoctoral training in Manchenster. When she contacted us after her postdoc,  we got excellent recommendations and based on her outstanding CV  she applied to the Scientific Carreer and was promoted directly as  Adjunct Researcher. Unfortunately, I can´t give you an opinion on this affair at this time as I am not aware of the details that led to this situation when Romina was doing her postdoc in the UK. We will of course keep an eye on this.”

There have been no other communications from the persons mentioned in this article (Girotti later retrospectively declared her email confidential though).

Update 12.07.2019.

I informed CRUK leadership about the accusations of bullying and data manipulations in the many comments below. I eventually received this reply from Iain Foulkes, Executive Director Research & Innovation, CRUK:

“Thank you for your email and for making us aware of the anonymous posts on your blog relating to the CRUK Manchester Institute. CRUK expects all people involved in our research to treat each other with dignity and respect, and we consider bullying and harassment of any kind, in any context, unacceptable. We have a clear policy on bullying within the research environment (Dignity at Work in Research) and expect Host Institutions to investigate any allegations that are made to them. Anyone working under a CRUK grant who has a complaint should report it to their employer, who, under the terms of our policy are obliged to investigate.  Given the nature of the allegations raised in your email, we intend to pass your email to the University of Manchester.”

Don’t hold your breath though. Marais and his colleagues just received £25m in Government funding to build a new cancer research centre:

“The new research facility, currently known as the Paterson Redevelopment Project (PRP), will be built at The Christie on the site of the old Paterson building, which suffered fire damage in April 2017″

Now we know why University of Manchester deleted ‘that’ press release, because they have a better one now. It also turns out, Marais (who is busy censoring his Wikipedia entry) is very well capable of doing public statements, he is quoted with:

“I am absolutely thrilled. This significant funding announcement is an exciting step towards creating a world class facility and a vibrant environment for researchers, clinicians and external partners to work together.

“I am extremely proud of the work we are doing in Manchester, which is creating a strong legacy in cancer research. The new facility will attract scientists from around the world and make a huge difference in the way cancer is diagnosed and treated.”

Update 1.08.2019.

Now we know why University of Manchester deleted the press release: Girotti’s lawyers succeeded. This message was circulated by CRUK MI chief operating officer, Caroline Wilkinson, highlight mine:

“The University has received a challenge to the research misconduct process from solicitors instructed by the former member of staff who was the subject of that [misconduct] case. Whilst the University disputes the grounds of the challenge advanced by the solicitors, it recognises the impact of the issues to all concerned. The University has therefore taken the decision to quash (i.e. cancel) the findings of the research misconduct reached in the recent process to enable the University to consider afresh the allegations of research misconduct under the University’s Code of Practice for Investigating Concerns about the Conduct of Research. In accordance with the Code of Practice, the process will be conducted under the presumption of innocence. In the meantime, the University has requested that the relevant journals take no action in relation to the published papers until the resolution of the University’s processes.”


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202 comments on “Manchester: “research misconduct concerned only one member of the research group”

  1. “At the end of the affair, two Russian postdocs got the blame, while Bulfone-Paus resigned from her tenured position as director of Research Centre Borstel and retracted 12 papers.”

    13 retractions.



  2. Homing (metastasizing) to the University of Manchester. Somebody could do a study on the genetics of that.

    Very impressive.
    “I am a fully tenured Principal Investigator, Associate Dean of Business Engagement, co-Director of Manchester Centre for Cellular Metabolism, I am Professor of Molecular Cell Biology, Division of Cancer Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, Manchester Academic Health Sciences Centre, University of Manchester. I act as one of the key university conduits for the CRUK Manchester Institute, Medicines Discovery Catapult and I am the Industry Lead for thr Manchester BRC and Manchester academic lead for Singapore. I am also a PI in the Manchester Cancer Research Centre and hold adjunct professorships in Athens and Singapore.”

    Also very impressive.

    STAT-1 facilitates the ATM activated checkpoint pathway following DNA damage.
    Townsend PA, Cragg MS, Davidson SM, McCormick J, Barry S, Lawrence KM, Knight RA, Hubank M, Chen PL, Latchman DS, Stephanou A.
    J Cell Sci. 2005 Apr 15;118(Pt 8):1629-39. Epub 2005 Mar 22.
    Retraction in: J Cell Sci. 2015 Mar 1;128(5):1064.
    PMID: 15784679

    ERK and the F-box protein betaTRCP target STAT1 for degradation.
    Soond SM, Townsend PA, Barry SP, Knight RA, Latchman DS, Stephanou A.
    J Biol Chem. 2008 Jun 6;283(23):16077-83. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M800384200. Epub 2008 Mar 31.
    Retraction in: J Biol Chem. 2018 Mar 30;293(13):4954.
    PMID: 18378670

    Cardiac release of urocortin precedes the occurrence of irreversible myocardial damage in the rat heart exposed to ischemia/reperfusion injury.
    Knight RA, Chen-Scarabelli C, Yuan Z, McCauley RB, Di Rezze J, Scarabelli GM, Townsend PA, Latchman D, Saravolatz L, Faggian G, Mazzucco A, Chowdrey HS, Stephanou A, Scarabelli TM.
    FEBS Lett. 2008 Mar 19;582(6):984-90. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2008.02.035. Epub 2008 Feb 22.
    Retraction in: FEBS Lett. 2018 Feb;592(4):657.
    PMID: 18295601

    The carboxyl-terminal activation domain of the STAT-1 transcription factor enhances ischemia/reperfusion-induced apoptosis in cardiac myocytes.
    Stephanou A, Scarabelli TM, Townsend PA, Bell R, Yellon D, Knight RA, Latchman DS.
    FASEB J. 2002 Nov;16(13):1841-3. Epub 2002 Sep 5.
    Retraction in: FASEB J. 2018 Apr;32(4):2315.
    PMID: 12223448


    • It is good to see (at least) that even after 10 years of publication, the issue was taken serious.



    QUOTING https://d1ijoxngr27nfi.cloudfront.net/enterprise/23255.pdf :

    “The LOX drug discovery programme is led by Professor Caroline Springer (Institute of Cancer Research, ICR) and Professor Richard Marais (Paterson Institute). The ICR, together with its partner institution, the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, forms the largest comprehensive cancer centre in Europe and one of the largest in the world. The ICR and the Marsden together conduct research across the whole spectrum of cancer studies from basic biology to clinical trials. Professor Springer is part of the Cancer Research UK Centre for Cancer Therapeutics at the ICR, a renowned drug discovery unit that has developed many novel anticancer drugs. Professor Marais is director of the Paterson Institute in Manchester.”

    Was this 10-20 million pounds?
    In 2007 Marais recruited Dr. Erler to The ICR as a LOX expert.
    It seems there was some issues with the LOX research he based his drug discovery work on, see: https://retractionwatch.com/2018/03/22/figures-in-cancer-paper-at-root-of-newly-failed-compound-called-into-question/ and https://forbetterscience.com/2018/08/13/janine-erler-dossiers-which-erc-doesnt-want/
    There seems to be more problems at Manchester….from Caroline Dive https://pubpeer.com/publications/B48D7E0BE55D41581E33E20CC84BEC

    AACR board has been informed about this post.


    • Alison Backen

      Hello Milly, I am really surprised to hear this. What results of mine have you not been able to replicate? I take it you are based in Caroline Dive’s lab? I would be delighted to help you, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I am now based next door at The Christie, I am easy to find.

      This blog is an interesting read, but it is worth nothing that the vast majority of scientists work exhaustingly long hours to make sure data is produced and interpreted correctly. In a cancer research institute, the most important thing at the end of the day is improving outcomes for patients.

      I urge every single scientist to spend some time in a clinic seeing first-hand what our Christie patients face and how we can help them. It is a great privilege to be able to do this, but hugely inspiring.


    • Remember a “failed” post-doc is almost always an honest one…


  4. You might want to examine articles with Michela Garofalo (CRUK Manchester) as an author (Pubpeer, retractions/corrections in PubMed, etc.).


    • https://www.cruk.manchester.ac.uk/Our-Research/Transcriptional-Networks-in-Lung-Cancer

      “Michela completed her undergraduate degree in Biology at the University Federico II of Naples in Italy. She obtained her PhD in 2008 from the same University, in Professor G. Condorelli’s laboratory, elucidating the molecular mechanisms involved in the resistance to apoptotic cell death induction in different types of tumours. From 2008 to 2011, she trained as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Professor Carlo Croce’s laboratory at the Ohio State University, advancing the understanding of the role of non-coding RNAs in cancer progression and development. ”

      The offical bio and the publications here seem to match (Naples with G Condorelli, and Ohio with Carlo Croce) the publications in this list:

      First one on the list received a 2019 “Expression of Concern” from PLoS One..

      This is much less than Paul “4 retractions” Townsend, or Silvia “13 retractions” Bulfone-Paus.


      • Correction. Also one retraction for M Garofalo (with G Condorelli, Naples, and CM Croce, Ohio).

        Cell Death Differ. 2010 Dec;17(12):1908-16. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2010.65. Epub 2010 May 28. c-FLIPL enhances anti-apoptotic Akt functions by modulation of Gsk3β activity.
        Quintavalle C1, Incoronato M, Puca L, Acunzo M, Zanca C, Romano G, Garofalo M, Iaboni M, Croce CM, Condorelli G.

        PMID: 20508645 DOI: 10.1038/cdd.2010.65


        2017 retraction notice.

        “The Editors have agreed to retract the above article in Cell Death and Differentiation (2010) 17, 1908–1916, due to the use of a mismatched image in control lanes of Figure 2c However, the authors wish to note that the results reported in Figure 2c have been reported and confirmed in Figure 2f of the same manuscript. The authors are convinced of the reproducibility of the data presented, which will be resubmitted for publication using the correct panel for Figure 2c. The authors apologize to the scientific community for any inconveniences caused.”


        “The second to last author — Carlo Croce, chair of the department of cancer biology and genetics at The Ohio State University — told us he believes there’s more to the retraction than what the notice says. Specifically, he said that the paper includes an image from a previous paper by the same authors, which he called “fraud.””


    • Deeply concerned

      OK. So you find some anomalies for a few scientists now at Manchester. Do you have any idea of the tens of thousands of studies the have been published by the rest and the high international esteem of its staff. Get some perspective why don’t you.


  5. Ben Dover

    And does anything change? Do they ever hand back their gongs, their accolades, their prizes, their fellowships or appointments? Or do they just keep claiming their six-figure salaries while enjoying all the plaudits, power and esteem.

    Perhaps it doesn’t matter the odd retracted paper among so many others. But do their big achievements really offset the damage they do to public trust in science? Does it matter that they suck up all the funding and create unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved in a few years, through fabricating, hyping and spinning findings? So much work unfunded while millions go to a few people who seem incapable of following what’s going on closely anymore in their labs. What inspires them finally: money, esteem, power or the pursuit of truth and the desire to lift mankind?

    Does it matter the millions of charity donations, taxpayers contributions and shareholders profit wasted on snake oil? The false hope and hazard for patients entering trials based on quackery?

    Is this the portrait of a successful scientist for CRUK and University of Manchester? A role model for future scientists?


  6. It appears that analyses on different gels and the loading control was run on yet another gel, instead of probing each gel for equal loading seems to be a common practice…


    • oh well, loading control library is not a problem for Diabetes and Cell Death and Disease, and a handful of other journals. See the earlier post by Leonid.


      • Actually I don’t know of a single case where a paper was corrected because loading controls were from a different gel (duplicated loading controls are different issue)


    • It appears that blot mis-match is not restricted to loading controls but also for phospho-protein and total protein for several blots in several figures in this paper.


  7. this article would be better if written with less arrogance and sensationalism


    • Ben Dover

      So you’re an apologist for malpractice and fraud


    • Anything to please my paymasters, dear London friend. Working at ICR, perchance?
      How much public money went into those Cancer Cell papers now found fraudulent?
      Anyway, here you have an example of scicomm without arrogance or sensationalism:


      • Rex Rictor

        Marais receives 100.000s-millions of Pounds annually from Private Donors, CRUK and Government programmes. Wellcome Trust has invested heavily in his drug development projects. As part of that there are fundraising events where one can only assume people are being misled and lied to, same with patients. Perhaps some of this should be referred to a public prosecutor ?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Marais is a bully and mistreats his team members on a regular basis. He creates a environment of fear and high pressure to produce data. Recently, he has introduced gagging orders for his team members to protect himself legally. Is this what CRUK stands for?


    • Reply to BC
      June 20, 2019

      To paraphrase somebody you may have heard of in the U.K. :
      being “tough on sensationalism” is not enough, you need to be “tough on the causes of sensationalism”.

      Leonid has used material which is readily observable, and produced by CRUK.

      Are the CRUK, or the University of Manchester, going to criticise journalists for not towing the party line?

      If so it would not be new. It happened in Liverpool.

      The BBSRC, a branch the the U.K. civil service, i.e. government, criticises a press report by the Times Higher Education:


      “Statement on media coverage of Janet Allen’s resignation from BBSRC
      10 November 2011

      BBSRC would like to make clear that it informed the Times Higher Education prior to its story of 10 November 2011, that the circumstances of Janet Allen’s resignation as Director of Research are categorically in no way related to allegations being made against Alirio Melendez. Janet has left BBSRC for personal reasons. It is invidious to suggest that this should bring into question her integrity.

      During Janet Allen’s time as Director of Research for BBSRC her achievements were many and covered every aspect of the Council’s Strategic Plan – Basic Bioscience Underpinning Health, Bioenergy and Industrial Biotechnology, Exploiting New Ways of Working and Global Food Security.”

      The Times Higher Education report


      Just because the BBSRC “informed the Times Higher Education prior to its story of the 10 November 2001”


      does not mean that the Times Higher Education has to believe the BBSRC.


      The questions surrounding the 12 papers co-authored by AJ Melendez and JM Allen still need to be answered.

      If the BBSRC reads it own press release is simply says “Statement “, there is nothing about veracity, just authority.

      FYI, AJ Melendez ended up as a professor at the University of Liverpool, 35 miles west of Manchester.
      It does happen in a neighbourhood near you.




      • Indeed Melendez was recruited here in Liverpool. I did post something at the time his fraud came to light

        What is interesting is that his papers were read by a now retired senior colleague of mine who was eagle eyed for this sort of thing, and he was quite shocked when the initial fraud was reported in the now defunct (and lamented!) ‘Science Fraud” site, because he missed seeing it. So even if you do perform due diligence, you may not notice fraud. Hence these issues coming to light after some years, when a better pair of eyes is on the case.

        There are lessons from the Melendez saga, which include:
        1. There are well documented papers he was to associated with at NUS where nothing has happened, so his claims to be a scapegoat have some merit, at least in the sense it wasn’t only him.

        The secrecy surrounding investigations and their outcome is irksome and causes problems. This may relate to the possibility of legal challenge and the worry institutions have regarding the effect this may have on their reputation or finances and this is something that need remedying.
        It is too common for the junior and/or person born overseas to carry all the blame. While in an isolated instance raid is likely to be the work of a single person, in the more pervasive cases, such as those catalogued above, it cannot be the work of one person. Leonid has documented a number of such instances and it might be interesting to analyse the data in this light.


  8. Eileen Dover

    Twenty publications in five years! If it looks to good to be true, it probably is to good to be true. Wonder what kind of lab culture it takes to lead to serial data manipulators?


    • 20 papers in 5 years may not be unrealistic, if you are an active PI with many parallel projects and collaborations: in many of them you are a contributing author. If all these 20 papers are high IF research articles and you are the senior author in all of them: now that seems unrealistic.


  9. Benjamin

    I think Donnas description above is 100% correct. I have heard this from several people from his lab and know he also treat some PIs like this. In addition he has threatened other people including students with the police.


  10. Reply to ferniglab
    June 20, 2019

    “It is too common for the junior and/or person born overseas to carry all the blame”


    If it’s not and old boys’ club what is it?


  11. Eileen Dover

    Well done Donna and Benjamin for speaking out. It’s frightening talking truth to power. No point complaining to HR; they’re all scared witless too. And thanks Leonid for providing this forum. Science needs a #MeToo moment to get its house in order. I only hope that the mainstream media pick up on this so we can start a wider debate.


    But how did we get here? Scientists like Marais are feted like rock stars. There’s also a growing winner take all mentality with a few individuals receiving multiple multi-million pound awards. All of which has been mandated by Paul Nurse and encouraged by funders like CRUK as it gives good press and supposedly empowers the most talented individuals. But they’ve created a powder keg in which investigators are retained on rolling tenure, having to attain ridiculous levels of funding and publications to keep their jobs.

    But at what cost? We see it here and elsewhere:

    Time for CRUK to embrace DORA https://sfdora.org and not just pay it lip service. Time too for it to condemn bullying and stamp it out. Let’s see if https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/funding-for-researchers/research-features/2018-10-18-dignity-at-work-in-research applies to Institute directors. Science is a serious business for grown ups and gentlefolk.


    • Funny pseudonyms you have, Dover!
      But shame on you for referencing Retraction Watch for Abderrahmane Kaidi story which was originally plagiarised (by BBC!) from my site.


      • Sometimes, when I read your posts, I think: really you guys do all of these things to keep scientific literature pure and correct? I mean: really the advancement of “true” science is your ultimate goal?! I don’t want to judge you guys, but sometimes it looks like you enjoy to see someone else is humiliated, regardless of if he or she is guilty of research misconduct or not…

        Even in criminal courts, when the jurists are 100% sure that someone is guilty of a crime, they give the accused a chance to defend himself/herself and his/her talks to be heard, but here, correct or not, you guys judge other people and ruin their life. I mean: OK, some fucking blots are duplicated maybe, but who cares?! society at the general level?! I’m pretty sure society doesn’t give a shit to your thoughts… I talked to several researchers about the general concept of this blog and they were like: WTF?!


      • It might interest you that I stood trial in court in Macchiarini affair, several times. I was NEVER allowed to defend myself before I was sentenced as a criminal.
        These are active doctors. Courts wanted to make sure patients never hear of what these doctors did.


  12. Quiet frankly, nobody might care about a western blot or two. But if whole clinical trials and further approaches to cancer treatments are obscured by these western blots and manipulated mouse data, then yes, it does matter!!! You are saying that the comments on this blog are humiliating the accused. Do you know how many PhD students and PostDocs and have been humiliated and intimidated to tears in front of their lab mates during meetings by Marais? Both Marais and Girotti were asked by Leonid by email to share their view, but they did not take the opportunity. Unfortunately, in academia people like him are not forced out easily. Even in cases of formal complaints, the perpetrators don’t really face any consequences. That’s it’s important that these cases of miscount and violations of basic employment laws are made public!!


    • I know what you mean Donna, but right or wrong these people have reputation, connection, money, support, etc. that make them invincible. For you Leonid: Do you think it is a sane thing to do to engage with these powerful jerks like Macchiarini and be sentenced to criminal for basically something that nobody will care? Particularly, for Macchiarini case, if he killed some patients, why you should stand in the court and not the family of deceased patients to accuse Macchiarini?


      • I was sentenced in court because everyone else wrote and said only good things about Philipp Jungebluth, and Heike & Thorsten Walles. Check German media. This is how their patients find them.


      • Lucy Lastic

        I totally agree Mike. Marais has been exonerated. Besides, with so many great achievements under his belt, he should be allowed the odd mistake. It’s the price for greatness. And besides, some people you just have to degrade to bring the best out of them. These guys are all losers thinking they might change the system.


  13. Benjamin

    @Mike look at the data presented then judge yourself. If you don’t see fraud you are not a scientist.


    • I’m not saying I don’t see any fraud but I’m saying, OK, who cares?! Even other scientists don’t care…


      • Lucy Lastic

        Hey Mikey. You’re awful quiet. I miss your pearls of wisdom. Are you too busy making up western imaging blots to come out to play.

        For a guy who supposedly doesn’t care about this stuff, wonder what brought you to this site? Guilty conscience? Maybe the guys at PubPeer can give you a clean bill of health?

        Fraud matters and most of us, scientists or not care. Science has to be ethical otherwise we end up with ‘MMR causes autism’ and ‘CRISPR’d babies’.

        Grow a pair Mikey.


      • “I’m not saying I don’t see any fraud but I’m saying, OK, who cares?! Even other scientists don’t care…”

        That is exacly the problem of today’s research. Too many people like Mike simply don’t care. Why then do you read Leonid’s blog?

        Too many “researchers” are not scientist but loosers searching for prestige and acceptance in the society. Walking proud around in the lab with a lab coat and pretend to do something meaningful. So damn pathetic.


      • I read this blog because personally I care about these stuffs but when I talk about these topics to my colleagues, they just laugh and say you are just wasting your time by reading these geeky blogs… My main purpose is that: when the mainstream of research society see the people of this blog as some kind of crazy people, how could we be optimistic toward changing the research society behavior and reduce the number of fraudsters?


  14. Benjamin

    Marais has in 2007 falsely accused two PhD students at ICR of stealing laptops and threatened with police and to send CCTV records. Later it turned out the students had been to the nearby gym. No wonder if his people are bullied.


    • False accusation can happen at any workplace, and anyway, anybody can make mistakes. It is not bullying.


      • Benjamin

        It is when he knew it was a false allegation meant to intimidate.


  15. The fellows should go to HR if they feel intimidated, and if it is not enough, still can ask for legal help. Today such things are taken serious, although workplace is still not a soul & spa service. Maybe in a few years 🙂 But if they were in the gym, probably they also got the balls to live with such a horrible intimidation.


    • HR are useless in this regard. Their only apparent function is to ensure the smooth running of the staus quo for this in Senior Management. Complaints magically disappear and there is a continual of denial of facts and evidence.


  16. Everyone is too terrified to speak out loud here. Marais has bullied and harassed every single person who has crossed the doors of his lab and his Institute where people are secretly whispering that he sacrificed a person to save himself – ie he needed a scapegoat and much handier if the scapegoat had left his lab some years back. Dig out the complaints against him at the ICR and get your information together Leonid!!. You might not find much in Manchester, the gagging and fear policy applies to all who work there. Going to HR and/or legal aid = end of your job.
    Maybe CRUK should be reminded of their own policy: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/funding-for-researchers/applying-for-funding/policies-that-affect-your-grant/policy-on-dignity-at-work-in-research
    At CRUK, we expect all people involved in our research to treat each other with dignity and respect, and we consider bullying and harassment of any kind, in any context, unacceptable. @Donna – breaking into tears was the minimum toll.


  17. I have known Caroline Springer for over two decades now. She is the most sinister and awful person I’ve ever met. She mistreats her team in an even more disgusting way than Marais does. Maybe, as Leonid said, something went wrong in the trial and they are trying to save their asses?? Her ex hubby, Richard Marais (married for over a decade with Caroline), would do anything for her. He even asked the former Drug Discovery Head at CRUK MI to quit so he could make space for his dearest Caroline to lead the Drug Discovery Unit in Manchester!!. It’s sickening but we, of course, understand that he has to pay her back the 52 papers they coauthored as senior authors together.
    But hey! kudos to Richard for making Caroline leave the ICR after a lifetime there.
    Someone should take action now to stop these people before is too late.


    • Imperial

      She has forced her postdocs to delete entire datasets. Her LOX inhibitors program is a total farce. She would sacrificed her mother before admitting an error in her shitty compounds. Please investigate what happened with the former Marais/Springer postdoc HaoRan Tang (first author in a Nature Comms paper). Also investigate Caroline Dive and all of Caroline Springer publications, they are full of crap.


      • Sue Thsayer

        If they can just get it licensed, they’ll be laughing all the way to the bank. Thereafter it can fail in trials.

        Nature Communications volume 8, Article number: 14909 (2017) Competing interests:
        H.T., L.L., D.N.-D., C.S. and R.M. have filed a patent application which includes the therapeutic use of CCT365623. All authors H.T., L.L., G.S., A.V., D.S., G.D.L., E.M., D.N.-D., F.L., L.J., N.D., C.S. and R.M. could benefit financially if CCT365623 is licenced, as part of a reward scheme for employees at ICR and CRUK MI.


  18. WonderWoman (WW)

    And this guy is a Royal Fellow !!!?!?!?
    Perhaps fighting this monster is only a job for Dames and OBEs? Perhaps they are the only ones who can help to make the voices of those silenced to be heard?
    C’mon Dame Nancy Rothwell!! you should intervene here !! https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/nancy.rothwell.html
    You should also get involved Michelle Mitchell OBE !!!
    It is starting to feel like a #MeToo movement here…These guys are fully protected by politics, power and money and they can destroy as they please. Probably NOTHING will happen.


  19. Robert Bleegd

    Supervisor and “supervised” are both guilty. Say no more.


  20. Clearly there is no effective oversight within the institutions or national bodies involved in this and most other cases discussed in this forum. The time is long past when these ethically-challenged chickens can be left in charge of their fraud-ridden henhouses, and they need a major reminder that they have not been given piles of cash to do with as they damn well please. The first step towards draining this swamp would be for due diligence to be exercised by the agencies that fund research and researchers. Key questions to be addressed include: How do those responsible for disbursing research grants, fellowships, infrastructural support, etc. keep track of the work and people they support, and take action when research/researchers are questioned or sanctioned? When this oversight is clearly defective – such as when known frauds are hired or funded, or multiple papers generated with research funds are retracted or mega-corrected – how are funding agencies and institutions called to account? How can those who contribute resources to agencies, institutions and researchers – right down to the level of individual donors/taxpayers – seek redress when funds are used to generate fraudulent outputs? If these issues are not addressed, science will continue, like the Roman Catholic church, to enable, protect, conceal, promote and relocate its abusers while snaffling great hordes of treasure that could be better used for …. just about anything, really.


    • I think effective oversight in any lab is rare. Most advisors treat “trainees” (I put that in quotes, because trainee implies you are actually learning something from your advisor) with benign neglect. As my graduate advisor once said, the best you can hope for is to have an advisor who will not stand in your way when things are working. As I am a permanent post-doc who has now had 5 advisors, I have found that statement to be correct. The problem is the incentive structure is wrong, and a lot of that has to do with tenure. I could not advise anybody to get a PhD in the west.


  21. Perhaps time to get the 4th estate involved. Much of this in the UK is corrupt too, but then should have have a score to settle, they will push hard…


    • Reply to ferniglab
      June 22, 2019

      “Perhaps time to get the 4th estate involved.”


      Didn’t have much effecteven though there is much evidence.


      This is relevant to University of Manchster as it harbours

      STAT-1 facilitates the ATM activated checkpoint pathway following DNA damage.
      Townsend PA, Cragg MS, Davidson SM, McCormick J, Barry S, Lawrence KM, Knight RA, Hubank M, Chen PL, Latchman DS, Stephanou A.
      J Cell Sci. 2005 Apr 15;118(Pt 8):1629-39. Epub 2005 Mar 22.
      Retraction in: J Cell Sci. 2015 Mar 1;128(5):1064.
      PMID: 15784679

      ERK and the F-box protein betaTRCP target STAT1 for degradation.
      Soond SM, Townsend PA, Barry SP, Knight RA, Latchman DS, Stephanou A.
      J Biol Chem. 2008 Jun 6;283(23):16077-83. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M800384200. Epub 2008 Mar 31.
      Retraction in: J Biol Chem. 2018 Mar 30;293(13):4954.
      PMID: 18378670

      Cardiac release of urocortin precedes the occurrence of irreversible myocardial damage in the rat heart exposed to ischemia/reperfusion injury.
      Knight RA, Chen-Scarabelli C, Yuan Z, McCauley RB, Di Rezze J, Scarabelli GM, Townsend PA, Latchman D, Saravolatz L, Faggian G, Mazzucco A, Chowdrey HS, Stephanou A, Scarabelli TM.
      FEBS Lett. 2008 Mar 19;582(6):984-90. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2008.02.035. Epub 2008 Feb 22.
      Retraction in: FEBS Lett. 2018 Feb;592(4):657.
      PMID: 18295601

      The carboxyl-terminal activation domain of the STAT-1 transcription factor enhances ischemia/reperfusion-induced apoptosis in cardiac myocytes.
      Stephanou A, Scarabelli TM, Townsend PA, Bell R, Yellon D, Knight RA, Latchman DS.
      FASEB J. 2002 Nov;16(13):1841-3. Epub 2002 Sep 5.
      Retraction in: FASEB J. 2018 Apr;32(4):2315.
      PMID: 12223448


  22. David vs Goliath

    Has anyone seen the evidence here? Are we really sure this Institute Director has not set-up his former postdoc to save his ass? These stellar cancer researchers that share the “White Men – Professional Bullies – Institute Directors” pattern (Paul Workman, Jose Baselga and Mike Stratton joined the list quite some time ago) are always exonerated. They hide behind their masks of serious researchers to do whatever they want. Serena Nik-Zeinnal case is the poster child of harassment against women and Mike Stratton has been armored by The Sanger.
    The rumours I’ve heard from his own close circle is that this IS a set-up of an innocent person and not a legitimate case. We have not heard the two sides of the story and it smells like there is a bomb about to explode if Girotti speaks out. I guess her chances to bring the truth to the surface are almost null: too much power, money and big fishes involved. Manchester University, CRUK and the Wellcome Trust will undoubtedly protect him.


  23. Whom to believe? German Research Foundation, or University of Manchester?

    Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft’s (DFG, German Research Foundation) view.

    “The DFG Committee concluded that Bulfone-Paus had committed “gross negligence of her supervisory duty” in her function as the leader of the working group and was therefore guilty of scientific misconduct as stipulated in the DFG procedures. On the basis of this result, the Joint Committee of the DFG decided to issue Bulfone-Paus with a written reprimand, to prohibit her from submitting proposals for three years, and to exclude her from statutory bodies at the DFG and not to appoint her as a reviewer for three years. However, since Bulfone-Paus had voluntarily suggested at the start of the proceedings that she withdraw from her appointments, not be appointed as a reviewer, nor be included in statutory bodies, the Joint Committee decided that this period should count towards the measures taken, leaving only the issue of the written reprimand to continue in effect.

    “These measures represent a suitable and appropriate means of reprimanding Ms. Bulfone-Paus for the sustained neglect of her supervisory responsibility towards the early career researchers. As an experienced researcher, Ms. Bulfone-Paus did not fulfil the essential function of providing a good role model for her colleagues,” said the DFG Secretary General, Dorothee Dzwonnek.”

    University of Manchester’s view.

    “Manchester pronounces husband and wife innocent of misconduct
    Institution rejects ‘malicious’ allegations, but accuser is puzzled. Paul Jump reports”


  24. Ben Dover

    With all due respect Zebedee, let’s deal with one scandal first before circling back to this old chestnut. She’s not up to so much anymore anyway. Pretty much well side-lined at Manchester. Big waste of University money the pair. Probably be pensioned off early. Loving the zeal though.


  25. I have been eyewitness to the unprofessional looks Marais has had towards her. No wonder: she is gorgeous, very talented, a good soul and hard worker and she always rejected him and all his offers to stay in Manchester. Not less relevant is the fact that left because she had enough of the bullying and harassment in which she worked through years. Everybody knew and looked away. She now works for a ridiculously low salary in her home country where she doesn’t have a company (you’ve got that wrong Leonid) but a website where she teaches for free at Universities. This whole thing has a clear mischievous revenge component – that’s my thinking. I also think that you would get much more out of your posts if you control your anger Leonid.


    • Kay Freds

      …”She now works for a ridiculously low salary in her home country…”
      So…should we consider she Is innocent just for this? Come on…. that’s not the point.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Eileen Dover

      O! beware, my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.


    • Nonsense

      These sorts of comments are clearly designed to shift the focus of the story away from Dr. Girotti, who knowingly and deliberately committed large scale data fraud in order to “succeed” in her career (the alterations made were so significant it couldn’t be done without her knowing or noticing, making her claims of innocence extremely doubtful). Whats more these comments attempt to paint a completely false picture of Dr. Girotti, who was known throughout CRUK Manchester to be a self centered bully and was also reprimanded for questionable laboratory practices during her time at the institute. It also seems oddly convenient that all these supportive comments seem to be appearing right after her statement to Leonid.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Eileen Dover

        I notice you don’t rush to dismiss the multiple accusations of bullying against Marais and Springer.


      • This is total bullshit – #METOO


    • deckna3e

      Her soul not good from others thoughts. She is a bully. She stole data and projects


    • Dear Jojo, I get so much out of my posts that people like you use email addresses of clueless academics to create a false identity. Why did you try to frame LJ at City U?


  26. Sue Thsayer

    BTW, I think the other paper is:

    Application of Sequencing, Liquid Biopsies, and Patient-Derived Xenografts for Personalized Medicine in Melanoma.
    Girotti MR, Gremel G, Lee R, Galvani E, Rothwell D, Viros A, Mandal AK, Lim KH, Saturno G, Furney SJ, Baenke F, Pedersen M, Rogan J, Swan J, Smith M, Fusi A, Oudit D, Dhomen N, Brady G, Lorigan P, Dive C, Marais R.
    Cancer Discov. 2016 Mar;6(3):286-99. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-15-1336. Epub 2015 Dec 29.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. John Hayle

    “…the investigation process has been biased, unfair and based on a factual error…” If so, she shouldn’t worry about her “reputation”….because (at last) things will be elucitated. But…those actions must elucitated accordingly.


  28. Sue Thsayer

    If Girotti is innocent, she’d be wise to engage with this forum. She’ll never get a fair hearing from the establishment, but sounds like she has some allies here and that a stitch up might be underway. If she can galvanise her allies and they go on the record, sufficient momentum might force an independent examination of the intrigue by investigative journalists with resources (no offence Leonid)


    • No offense taken, but did you notice how main media prefer not to pick up on that, well, press release from Manchester?


      • Sue Thsayer

        That “press release” was buried so deep, practically no one at University saw it. They look after their own.


  29. Let’s just be clear on a couple of things – Romina was not a good soul or a hard worker. She is not an escape goat because she’s female or foreign.
    Romina bullied everyone she deemed ‘below her’ which was everyone who was not a PI or above. She used everyone to get her way and none of it was due to bullying or harassment… she was the bully with the biggest ego. She was found guilty because she manipulated data, and she manipulated the data because she was cocky and thought she was untouchable!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lucy Lastic

      Birds of a feather flock together


    • Unmasked

      Richard, I take it is you behind this post, I worked with her for years and I could see how miserable it was for her to work in your lab, to endure the jealousy of other people while being constantly harassed. This kind of posts only speak about how wrong and deficient your management is/was. I don’t think she has allies here but simply a crowd of people who know you very well.


      • Lucy Lastic

        Don’t be silly. He has his minions to do this. He’ll be enjoying himself somewhere on holiday.


  30. Ben Dover

    Can I please buy the TV rights to this. Beats Corrie any day.


  31. The University of Manchester is a place where a lot of shameful practices are taking place. Bullying, harassment and other forms of mistreatment is the norm for institute directors (institute of biotechnology is another example) and this is legitimised by the top university management. They will cover up any dirt and crime as long as those directors bring in megagrants and push the university’s ranking up. Aims justify means. Everyone knows but looks away as it has been noted here already. HR and the likes are disgraceful means to crush those who dare to raise any complaint against “white men-professional bullies-institute directors” who rule and distribute funds and other very visible signes of favour only within their packs. Those few who disagree are dealt with ruthlessely and promptly: people are afraid to say anything even after they were forced to leave because of gagging clauses.

    So I do believe that Romina might have been framed up.

    As one of the commentators has said, the 4th party is needed to blow these horrendous practices up. Nothing will change until a similar story is published in the Manchester Evening News and public find out what is happening behind the closed doors of what is striving to be one of the top 20 universities in the world.


    • Deckname

      I can said Romina is the most aggressive and hostile person I’ve ever met. She and her friend would intimidate and bully the group to stay in control. Richard had complete trust in her. Clearly a mistake!
      She is not some poor postdoc, she is ruthless. Hearing from people in the announcement, surprise wasn’t that she made up the data. Suprise was that Richard finally didn’t protect her anymore. Everyone can believe she cheated


    • deckna3e

      I don’t believe Romina after I met her


  32. Nonsense Nonsense

    It seems that the gagging order no longer applies and Marais is trying to shift the focus towards the victim. This is why these people get away whit their wrongdoing, if you have an army to post shit online …. you can expect anything. I will not keep on reading this post. Knowing Marais he is preparing more untruthful posts to characterize the victim as a bully and serial data manipulator. We all know she is his scapegoat. SAY NO MORE


  33. deckna3e

    Richard is intimidating and puts pressure on his group to get big papers. But Romina is also a bully. She did so well because she didn’t care who she hurt. That is why so many papers and awards.


  34. Sue Thsayer

    Seems an awful lot of people have a great deal to say on this matter after the fact. Consciences need to be searched. Why haven’t more people intervened a long the way to call out this shocking lack of professionalism on all sides before so much repetitional harm has been done to the Institution and organisation. We’ll all be tarred by this brush. The only thing necessary for the triumph of scientific fraud is for good people to do nothing.


    • Deeply concerned

      And all we need for the rumour mills to destroy people’s reputations is for the silent majority to stay silent. Maybe time to hear some more support for CRUK_MI and UoM if you’re proud like me to work there


  35. Andrea Schneider

    Leonid, you stated that ‘a melanoma clinical trial started in Manchester in 2015 based on Girotti’s possibly flawed research’. Some relevant comments …..

    If you want to see the results of this trial, see these links:


    Click to access vL%20Basilea%20Valuation%20Report%2015MAY18.pdf

    There seems to be no problem with confirming the findings in the Cancer Cell paper (‘BAL3833 continues to show very encouraging anticancer activity in preclinical models …’). However, “A maximum tolerated dose was not defined” in the trial, suggesting a problem with the half-life of the drug: ‘Following the detailed analysis of available data, Basilea concluded that an alternative formulation of the drug candidate would be required to achieve appropriately high and consistent drug levels in patients.’ So, Springer and Marais are in trouble after having partnered with Basilea and now they are not able to deliver….
    It can’t be that in a huge drug development team like Caroline Springer’s, the decision to go ahead with a clinical candidate is based exclusively on a set of experiments performed by one postdoc (as claimed?). Such a big team will do a whole battery of tests involving several scientists and then the managing team, here Springer and Marais, will decide. So, what to do if this clinical candidate then doesn’t show any effect in patients….. the whole story reeks of ‘scapegoat’….


  36. Rex Rictor

    It is widely known between alumni from ICR and Marais group that he and Caroline Springer were bullying people. The rumors about sexual misconduct and harrashment were coming mainly from Chris Lord & Alan Ashworths department. However, misconduct and abuse of power were plentiful within the HR department. They ran their HR department as the Spanish Inquisition e.g. when it was headed by John Kempton who got rid of most of the research groups in Chris Marshalls center. Making false accusations and illegal procedures were the norm, probably still is. ICR is a disgusting place that should be terminated. It has avoided major oversight by sucking up to UCL and by preventing full integration with the Royal Marsden which is running a more clean shop.

    Marais most likely knew about all the fraud that took place in his lab. He never stopped short of demanding a slide to ‘prove a point’ being happy as long as some ‘bands could explain the control’.

    His own boss Richard Treisman was/is a famous bully.

    Marais is as exonerated as Donald Trump is by Robert Muellers report…..i.e. NOT exonerated.

    Marias likes the name ‘Lucy’.

    The chickens are coming home to roost.


    • Former CS trainee

      Caroline Springer has done horrible things to her staff. Everybody knew it at ICR. I think she left the ICR to be protected in Manchester to continue running her lab like she wants, selecting the data she likes and burying the data she does not want to see. Her ex husband has always protected her.


      • Half of Caroline’s team moved with her from ICR to Manchester. This doesn’t quite match the description of someone who was mistreating her staff, isn’t it? And before you ask, I’m not Caroline or Richard.


      • To JS: Never heard of PhD students that need to complete their thesis or postdocs that have to publish before leaving a lab to get a decent job later ?

        What option do they have if not to follow “lady wonder” in Manchester ?

        Sadly, PhD students and postdocs always will have “to much to lose” to really be free to decide….


  37. Ian Carpenter

    This post has nothing to do with the academic misconduct issue of Dr. Girotti.
    I agree with every post describing Richard Marais as a bully. This was specially true with female scientists and evenmore with Md/PhD students. His way of establishing authority was through fear and by exploting people´s weaknesses. Chris Marshall must be rolling in his grave. What a difference between mentor and disciple… I hope one day CRUK does something about it but it looks like a “too big to fall” situation.


    • Former ICR PI

      As a former PI working under Marais I can state it was not just students/postdocs but also PI’s that were systematically bullied and threatened. Marais instrumentalized the HR, Legal and senior management in campaigns against PI’s that he did not like or needed to get rid of for his own benefit. Anybody who questioned his style/management and science would be hunted down. Its disgusting to see that his lab has produced fraud. It is HIS LAB and he is the PI so it is HIS responsibility.


  38. Deeply concerned

    Whistleblowing has its place, but there are proper channels and processes to be followed if they are to be effective and respected


  39. Deeply concerned

    I’m deeply concerned about the impact of this blog on the reputation of the organisations being maligned. The vast majority of those working for UoM and cruk are decent and honest. We should also presume the innocence of those being accused of bullying and cheating until proven otherwise. Perhaps if UoM and/or Cruk would commit to an independent investigation of all the allegations here, in which confidential testimonies are sought from peers and team members past and present, and the findings shared with Leonid, then this post could be taken down?


    • What do you want me to take down? The Manchester press release? The PubPeer comments? Or would you like me to delete the accusatory witness comments?


      • Deeply concerned

        Your rules say no ad hominem attacks


      • Can you point to specific ad hominem comments? Or is reporting bullying and other unprofessional behavior an ad hominem accusation these days?


  40. Ben Dover

    All organisations have bad apples and mud slingers. People are distrustful of complaint procedures and it can be difficult for individuals to feel empowered to complain. Perhaps an anonymous questionnaire could be created on line like with survey monkey where people can upload personal testimonials giving an account of event(s), over what period, whether it was witnessed or reported to HR and whether people might be willing to go on the record. This could then be presented to UoM/Cruk. If there’s any substance then they’d be morally obliged to look into it.


  41. I appreciate I cannot have the full picture of your information, but the only person nominated as being forced to leave in this thread is the ex ddu PI… Whom I wish is enjoying his well earned retirement, having retired after a life of honorable service before the current one was chosen. As consequence, apologies for doubting the reliability of the other examples you were given. With no source verification anybody can accuse anybody, this has created real monster in the past and is scary. And well yes, thinking that if I cause somebody envy and I happen to make mistakes because I am not a cyborg, these mistakes will be used to spin social media humiliation and probably the end of a not-yet-started career for the benefit of whose envy I attracted, is causing me some problems to carry on serenely with my possibly already delusional job of being a cancer researcher.


  42. I think there’s a difference between reporting bullying and/or unprofessional behavior (as far as my understanding, there are no complaints standing against the nominated persons and the issues flagged up by PubPeer have prompted verifications and corrections) and taking advantage of this blog to settle old scores or grudges. With little source verification and no responsibility for the anonymous allegations which can be so easily manipulated for whichever purpose, this sort of web trial can only cause harm to all the persons who choose to work for UoM/cruk driven by ideals. I am not denying that there’s space for improvement, or that it’s in the human nature to make mistakes, but please consider that a better society cannot be built on the rule that who shouts louder or makes more noise/scandal wins. This page has caused stress and anxiety to many persons not involved in the case who only want to carry on trying to improve cancer treatments, some accusations refer to false facts, others cannot be verified… and you have allowed this to spread and cause harm, are you not concerned? Is this journalism?


    • That’s peculiar, I was given a list of very good cancer researchers who had to leave the institute under pressure. But you say it is my reporting which prevents you from curing cancer?


    • The thing is, if someone did not highlight these problems, the abuse would continue unabatted. This presence of this report is the best chance for things to actually change in a toxic environment. Nothing ever changes unless you piss the right people off–that’s my experience.


  43. I work at CRUK MI, and I don’t even dare to say in which position. I can confirm all the comments that define the director of our Institute as a bully, a dictator, who will do anything to satisfy his ego and his own interests. Going on record is signing my own ‘execution’ – I will be out of my job the next day, or maybe worse, I’d keep my job but with no support from the superior management. This Institute is run entirely for the director’s benefit, it is a mafia. He pushes junior PIs to not do research projects that might have competing interests with his lab. A former CRUK MI PI was asked to change his research focus to lung cancer and stop any melanoma work because it was competing with him. I repeat, I can’t go on record or make formal complaints against the Director of the Institute. HR staff are also under the director supervision, nobody here is free to do anything without putting in jeopardy their job. I hope the general audience can understand this situation and help us. I don’t expect The University taking formal actions because I could see from previous posts that they are run corruptly as we are run here. I also agree that this is a too big to fall situation. Thank you Leonid for this blog, finally we are speaking about this, at least we can do it anonymously.


  44. I cannot agree more with the comments on Marais being a total bully which let his postdocs to fight like gladiators to publish first (likely at the cost of quality). Not surprised at all that shortcuts were taken to succeed in his lab.

    Romina ain’t better. She is probably the worst bully I met. Essentially a smaller version of Marais who exploited and back stabbed everybody below her to boost her career.

    Seriously, what do you expect from people like these ? They will do whatever it takes to get to the top.

    Unfortunately, science does not drop sensational outcomes to publish in Nature, science etc every year….
    but photoshop is always there to help !

    Everybody knew this for years and is shamefull that real actions are not taken to limit this despicable attitude in CRUK.


    • I don’t agree with your characterization of her at all…I worked with her, she was surrounded by jealousy and envy. I do agree with your characterization of Marais who make his lab a horrible place to work.


      • sure…ask the animal facility guys for further comments on how the drug treatment dosage on animals there was handled…. and what these guys were forced to do….


  45. @PTSD it seems you got the wrong end of the stick. Whilst one can disagree with the tone, style and sarcasm and the odd misunderstanding/error in Schneider’s blog overall he puts the ugly truth on the table.

    It’s not for you to like. Its for you to take action and push things into the right formal channels…if you fail this you are as bad as the perpetrator of the despicable acts discussed here.

    Obviously anybody should have a fair trial and due process and is only guilty when found guilty. But a major issue is that here the institution is playing both investigators, judge and police. This is absurd and untrustworthy, in particular when the verdict is ‘he is innocent’. What EVIDENCE have UoM presented that Marais did not know?


    As a PI you are ALWAYS responsible for the research in your lab and publications. This is indeed what ‘PI’ means. So in such a case you need to prove you had absolutely no way of knowing what was going on. Here this seems highly unlikely, Marais likes to present himself as somebody who always get deeply involved in each project and experiment in his lab….so really he did not see this? It’s possible but implausible.

    In lack of clear evidence he did not have a clue one should at least demand a full investigation into whether he indeed DID KNOW and whether he even ENCOURAGED this conduct. The systematics here are another pointer….are their earlier works from Marais or his lab that has fraud on them?

    In terms of bullying. Marais have been involved in numerous departures from ICR and indeed his own departure was nasty as well so trying to defend his track record here will just make things worse for himself.

    The same can be said about stalking Schneider on LinkedIN:
    Caroline Springer you are walking down the wrong path. Reflect over your own conduct, you have harassed and bullied numerous people in your group and colleagues. It is well known you lie about your data to Wellcome Trust and others. It is disgusting that you mislead cancer patients and donors during fundraising events. Shame on you frankly. But again whilst I can understand you and Marais is angry about this coming out…the more you fight it the worse it will get.

    Leonid is always sarcastic about him being found guilty for libel in a german court. The fact is that Leonid is NOT a criminal and he is NOT guilty. This is simply a matter of not having enough resources to pay the right lawyers and Jungebluth and Macchiarini being absolute lunatics (socio/psychopaths) which is why the Swedish Public PROSECUTOR is running a manslaughter investigation against Macchiarini.

    That speaks for itself.

    So people should frankly support LS more monetarily so he can get cleared for these absurd charges.

    At the same time it would make sense for people to also organise and group up to protect journalists and whistleblowers against arselocks like fraudsters and bullies.


    • Thanks for your support, yes, I had to accept the court verdicts because I ran out of money and only managed to pay off the bills and fines thanks to donations. Judge also said she is sentencing me because otherwise Jungebluth’s legal insurance will make him pay from his own pocket, and she cannot allow that. Maybe I looked too Jewish, judge namely asked which country I came from.
      But what is Caroline Springer saying about me on LinkedIn?


  46. Calling CRUK

    CRUK is the world’s largest charity dedicated to cancers research. They surely have the resources to investigate into this. If people are asking for help sending SOS messages is because something must be going on in this Institute. If going on record is not possible because of fear and possible retaliation then, they should find the way to protect their scientific staff and provide them with a safe environment to speak out.


  47. The only person nominated as being forced to leave in this thread is the ex DDU PI who was an stellar scientist and an honorable man. We love him and we miss him.


  48. These anonymous comments are only degrading and humiliating people. They should stop, this is not the place to settle problems. Our Institutions and the people who work there are being affected by this storm. Please, think before you post.


    • Nick we are not here to make you happy. We are here to clean the shop up. UM and CRUK-Manchester needs to clean up its shit or it will collapse.


      • Is really ruining people’s life, regardless of the fact that if they are guilty of research misconduct or not, necessary to clean up University of Manchester and CRUK-Manchester shit? I mean: let’s say Marais and Girotti, both of them are really in charge of research misconduct and at the best situation, which I doubt it, University of Manchester will fire Marais and also Girotti will be fired from her current position in Argentina. OK, should they die after they left academia shit hole? These posts would prevent anybody to find a job in the future, even non-academic jobs…


    • Gregferguson

      Amaya ???


  49. Padmanee

    This post is making clear that neither CRUK MI nor University of Manchester are safe places to work. It transpires a toxic environment where people work under stress and can’t speak their minds because they fear to lose their jobs. I wonder why the Unions are not taking a more prominent role in this disgrace. Someone should take action. The research integrity/misconduct issue seems minimum compared to what people are commenting here. Scientists, like every person basically, should be guaranteed a safe and bullying-free working environment. If senior management can’t secure this basic requirement then they should resign.


    • “senior management ” = bullies in the playground.
      Where do you think they went?


  50. Horrified

    The University of Manchester has harnessed for decades the fear/silence policy. This University and their management cannot be trusted. Political interests and money rule this place. I wish somebody warned me before I made my family move country pursuing my “dreamed” job as a Professor.


    • Agree with every word you’ve said except decades. The university was a much happier place under Alan Gilbert which was not that long ago although seems ages now.


  51. Deeply concerned

    No. I posted that some perspective was badly needed. That in a recent staff survey run by UoM which included CRUK MI and was also conducted anonymously by a 3rd party, the majority of respondents claimed they were proud to work in Manchester and felt safe at work. A tiny minority said they were bullied. So even if these unevidenced accusations of bullying were true, clearly this is isolated. [This post appeared briefly then disappeared]


    • You are right, I accidentally deleted that one when approving other comments on my phone:

      “I think some perspective is needed. In the recent staff survey which is also entirely anonymous, the vast majority of staff including at CRUK MI reported being proud to work here and only a minority mentioned bullying. Even if the allegations contained here are true, then it is isolated.”


    • adamselwith

      Bullying is always isolated in a civilised culture. Look in gang culture if you want to find it more widespread. You imply it can be safely ignored.
      Also you say “unevidenced”, perhaps you mean “hearsay”? True, this is often given low credibility, but, in a survey? The hearsay is the evidence in a survey. You say “tiny minority”. So, it could be as little as 1 then? Maybe an outlier then, sure, “disgruntled”, and all that. Fine, but then statements like “bullying has no place in our organisation” cannot be made, because it is not zero. Like a small crack in an aeroplane’s wing, bullying, no matter how small, should not be tolerated.
      What perspective have you added?


  52. Reality Czech

    Leonid, you, these other whiners and your devotees on twitter are deluded. Google Marais and this blog doesn’t appear nowhere. You should get out more and pick a more righteous crusade.


    • Thanks for the heads-up. Someone might want to fix this at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Marais


    • Rex Rictor

      @RealityCzech Google Page 3 and moving up fast. I predict this page is hitting Marais Google page 1 within a few days/weeks. That is how it always go.

      @Mike are you out of your mind, Marais+Spring+ICR has destroyed numerous careers. Now we should feel sorry for him? I dont think so.


      • ID protected

        I’ve sat at their joint Springer/Marais lab meetings thinking they are the worst scientists I’ve ever met. Not only they cherry pick the data they want, they force their staff to “decrease” the IC50 of a shitty LOX compounds orders of magnitude within a week time so they can reach their ‘milestones’ for Wellcome Trust. As if you could do magic. No research integrity at all. Of course, if something goes wrong they have postdocs, technicians and students to blame. They should be banned from applying for funding; charity money is used to pay the expensive air tickets Marais “needs” to travel first class.


  53. Some comments have been deleted. Why?


  54. Marais has made a career out of bullying his trainees, establishing fear as a policy in his lab, making students and postdocs cry and humiliating them. He used to brag about it and nobody dared to stop him. Human resources staff were accomplices of it. He also bragged about his expensive life and frequent first class flights and felt good by asking British Airways staff “do you know who I am?”. Truly pathetic. He enjoyed having tearful students presenting 2h-straight presentations at lab retreats with their voice broken. As a ‘good bye’ from his lab people were given the last instruction: you cannot work in melanoma and your ideas belong to me. His partnership with Caroline Springer is beyond corrupt. He should be banned from having a lab or directing an Institute. Someone MUST act urgently.


    • Rex Rictor

      100% precise description of facts.


    • the truth and nothing but the truth.....calling CRUK

      CRUK should be concerned to have someone like Richard Marais directing an Institute and being in charge of young scientists in training.
      It is not only that he considers CRUK-MI ‘his realm’, in which he can rule as he pleases and in which he considers the (junior) PIs as his ‘property’ and extension to his lab. We have already heard so much about how he treats members of his team while they endure their training with him (frequent statement: ‘your brain belongs to me’).
      But what should be really a concern is that with all the effort that CRUK has put into means of mentorship for young scientists, they have someone like Richard Marais running an Institute. With Richard Marais, there are major concerns as to how he treats the next generation of scientists trying to establish themselves when they are leaving his lab. Clinical oncologists successfully training at the Royal Marsden and becoming clinical experts in melanoma are told ‘you cannot work in melanoma’ when they want to apply for the next steps in their career. Similarly, postdoctoral scientist having gained a track record in the RAS-RAF field during the time in his lab are told ‘you cannot work in RAS signaling’ or ‘you are not allowed to work on the MAP-kinase pathway’ when they want to establish their own labs. And these statements should not be underestimated, because they are communicated with a thread. Basically, otherwise there will be no (positive) reference, and the chances of obtaining funding or a position in the UK, being invited to future conferences or considered for anything that furthers a career in science, vanish. After all Richard Marais is a man with power, always keen on acting on any committee that wants him.
      The irony is that Richard Marais feels threatened by these young scientists (particularly when they are women); deep inside he is so insecure that he is worried this next generation could become his competitors – go figure.
      If CRUK decides that it is a good thing to hold onto Richard Marais as the director of CRUK-MI, they should at least bring in some mechanisms, which allow monitoring the mentorship activities of Marais. Just compare Richard Marais with Chris Marshall, an amazing mentor (the greatest irony being that Marais wouldn’t be where he is without Chris’s generous mentorship). How many Marshall alumni have obtained leading and successful roles in the UK and how many ex-Marais’…. and the latter have succeeded despite Marais.


      • Rex Rictor

        Hear hear. Another 100% precise description. CRUK are you reading? get real and make a decision. Most likely this entire thread of comments will explode into several formal cases/lawsuits against CRUK for inaction/failure-to-protect claims if you do not act.


  55. Marc York

    Establishing fear ? He is an old man. Doesn’t look that scary at all outside his little bubble.

    The problem is academia. Why bullies like him are allowed to swap around names on publications ? Remove first names, add others that did not contribute or simply denying you to publish if he doesn’t like you.

    Why postdocs have virtually no rights on publications ?

    Even air B&B requires you to sign papers upfront to guarantee basic rights for those renting rooms even for a single day and postdocs are requested to work for years and without any assurance to be not screwed at the end ?

    A system like academia that allow bullies to decide on a daily basis if a postdoc will publish or not (meaning your career might be over any time), is wrong.

    Academia should work like McDonald’s : postdocs put money, PIs put the food and deal is nice and easy.

    The reality : postdocs pay upfront and PIs maybe will give the food in three/five years if you please him/her enough during the time.

    Then there you go butt-licking, backstabbing, everything to please the pharaoh !

    Lack of rights enable all toxic behaviours seen in academia.

    PS: Wondering how scary Richard and Romina are when they walk into McDonald’s ?


  56. Graham MD

    These posts are revealing a secret that has been known by the community for years. The TRUTH has come to light: Richard Marais is a dishonest, corrupt, misogynist bully – a man with no integrity. Richard Marais is capable of anything to save his ass. Richard Marais can push his lab members to suffer whatever is necessary to make his own way. Richard Marais can ask his postdocs to sit on his chair “to feel the power”. Richard Marais can call his postdocs “bodies” (on their back) because they are only occupying space in his lab and “not producing”. Richard Marais can trick or threaten his collaborators to get a prominent position on a paper or sacrifice a well-deserved first authorship of one of his mentees in order to get a last author position “while being only a PhD”. Richard Marais’ hate towards clinicians is ridiculous and he enjoys making their life miserable in his lab. He should resign immediately, he cannot run an institute neither a lab. I wonder why CRUK protects him so badly. Charity money is being given to corrupt hands!!


    • Zebedee


      “Sir Harpal Singh Kumar (born 1965) is a British medical researcher who was the chief executive officer of Cancer Research UK[1][2][3] until June 2018,[4] when he left the charity to become Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation EMEA.[5]”

      It says medical researcher, but I do not believe that is the case. A manager/head of charities.


      “The CEO of Cancer Research UK and UICC Board member was knighted for his “hugely influential” work on prevention and treatment of cancer”

      “hugley influential” is a euphemism, for manager.

      “After training as a chemical engineer, Kumar worked as a research scientist with the UK Atomic Energy Authority, before joining McKinsey as a healthcare consultant in 1992. He then went on to hold senior positions in the medical field, before joining Cancer Research UK in 2002.”

      Where is the medical research? Pre-1992. Even that is not obvious.


      “10 JUL 2018 Broadcaster Victoria Derbyshire and former Cancer Research UK CEO Sir Harpal Kumar awarded honorary doctorates”

      After Leonid’s first article about Paul Workman,

      ICR, London awarded Harpal Kumar an honorary doctorate for “Sir Harpal has a long list of achievements spanning his career in cancer research institutes” that is a euphemism for manager. Where is the medical research? Yes, he was in cancer institutes, but not as a scientist.

      Why be a scientist if you can be a manager of scientists?


      • Rex Rictor

        Harpal Kumar is one massive Acteur. He does not give a shit about research. When CRUK went bust back in 2008 he wanted to turn CRUK into an information campaign office only ie. no research.


  57. maggiemay00

    140 posts, a handful of them are positive and supportive…the remaining are utterly disgraceful. Total shambles, not even related to the article itself.
    All I read is based on envy and jealousy.

    I’m rather perplexed to read the website’s name “for better science” and see 90% of the comments are pure personal attack, slander, defamation, insults and untruth.

    Why is Caroline Springer being under this outbreak of false accusations?
    She left the ICR with most of her team (they left voluntarily, not forced). The rest of her team that stayed behind, were a small number of people with 1 person retiring and another was made redundant.

    Why would most of her team follow her? I know some of them have been with her for decades.

    PI’s are PI’s because they fought their way up working hard, with determination, ambition, motivation, that means…if someone is not able the pressure to work with this kind of personality, my advice is…leave the team. Don’t stay and whine, whinge, complaint afterwards.

    It’s their job! If they were soft, gentle, laid back… they would not be PI’s for long.
    Seems like a lot of snowflake generation comments.
    For crying out loud…focus on science, that’s what this should be about!


    • See this:

      And this


    • Benjamin

      @maggiemay00 is this Deputy Director Dive ? who seems to have a pubpeer entry lagging a response… https://pubpeer.com/publications/B48D7E0BE55D41581E33E20CC84BEC is that science enough for ya?

      Also you provide no evidence for your claims above.


      • maggiemay00

        To Benjamins: Get your accusations towards people names checked before saying anything. Evidence … no one has proved any of the accusations before or have they???
        Not feed more trolls…


    • Shame on you dare to call out to “focus on science”! How come a biomedical scientist not knowing fighting to kill germs is for better health? Next time please make a student or poor postdoc to post such stupid comment from their home IP, as you guys always do when caught faking data.


    • My observation is that in any lab there is usually only one project that is working well enough to publish in a high profile journal, and only one person will be credited as first author, although the others in the publication list are expected to contribute and, often for this, sacrifice their careers for the success of “the chosen one”. Being the one who is “chosen”, or isn’t, says nothing about the personality of the individual. In fact, I have seen too many of “the chosen” develop bloated egos and attitudes (like yours) where they cherry-pick what they think made them special in hindsight, which is utterly laughable.

      “Oh maggie, I wish I’d, never seen your face…..”


    • Zebedee

      “determination, ambition, motivation” do not equal science.

      “if someone is not able the pressure to work with this kind of personality, my advice is…leave the team”.

      Science should not belong to anybody. It is not for anybody to make others leave science. A good scientist does not drive others away. In the past people used to argue that behaviour of scientist did not matter, but if it drives others away it diminshes science. There is a growing realisation that the “businessification” of science/hierarchy of institutes and univerisities (very political things) have diminshed science.



      • Rex Rictor

        Precise and very wise words from Zebedee indeed. Long live science. The chickens are coming home to roost.


    • Former CRUK fundraiser

      Cannot believe I read that last comment. So it’s all the post-doc’s fault for being bullied, intimidated and harassed? And the PI is blame free? Appalling. Utterly appalling attitude.

      Perhaps there’s a reason why most posts are negative and perhaps it is not envy or jealousy. Maybe it’s because they’re narcissistic, evil and egotistical bullies who deserve to burn in a special kind of hell for an eternity for the scandalous mistreatment of staff and the disgusting waste of other people’s hard earned money.

      CRUK – I’d like the £10k raised in the past for the Institute back. I’ll give it to somewhere deserving.


      • I am sorry to say that CRUK is not answering my emails, they are busy fundraising or publishing in high-impact journals I presume. None of the recipients replied when I shared some of the comments with them and offered to put them in touch with the bullying victims.
        Karen Vousden (known from PubPeer)
        Charles Swanton
        Michelle Mitchell
        Iain Foulkes
        Rita Akushie


      • Zebedee

        Reply to former CRUK fundraiser
        July 6, 2019

        Did they get you running around in pink wigs?

        Highly emotive diseases such as breast cancer, and the CRUK portraying itself as Mother Theresa, do have the effect of supressing criticism.

        Now people talk about “virtue-signalling”, before that people used the word self-righteousness.


    • Why someone should risk their mental health or accept to be constantly bullied by these people for a good chunk of their life ?

      Let’s say that to achieve a meaningful goal you need to sacrifice a lot in life (even dealing with “pressure to work with this kind of personality”). Is not clear to me what they offer in exchange of this sacrifice ?

      The prestige of working for Richard Marais ? Do you think that doors magically open just mentioning his name ? I worked in cancer research for years an in different countries and there are thousands of scientists like or bigger than him. I am sorry but many don’t even know who this guy is. The world is a big place. I mean is not like you are working for a Nobel price winner.

      The high chance of publishing in a major journal ? Unlikely. Only few postdocs of the many in his lab ended up with a first name in an high impact factor journal (and some are now under investigation for scientific fraud).

      Oh wait, maybe they should get humiliated or risk post-traumatic stress disorder for the competitive salary offered to post-docs in his lab. I remember to be quite jealous of the Ferrari and Lamborghini parked in front of CRUK Manchester.

      Wouldn’t be better to simply work in industry where misbehaviour like this is taken more seriously , colleagues are generally less stressed and salary is considerably higher instead of going through all this pain for little reward ?


      let’s focus on science. Science was falsified here and that the focus indeed


      • You forgot to mention the regular zero gravity parties on the international space station, all paid for using cruk money!

        This has become a strange game of seeing what absurd thing Leonid will quote on Twitter – cruk manchester was surrounded by public roads including an extremely busy dropoff point for the hospital there was literally no option to park in front of it/behind it/next to it, pretty much everyone lived locally so they walked to work, and for all his faults Marais always cycled to work and encouraged others to do the same. It’s a safe bet that any fancy cars seen anywhere near cruk manchester (not that I remember seeing any) belonged to either a local resident, or a senior consultant at the hospital.

        So yes, lets focus on science and data fraud, and also lets try to not make up random crap about ferraris and lamborghinis.


    • To Abifail: Thanks for clarifying that the owners of Ferraris and Lamborghinis aren’t from CRUK.

      I mean is important to make clear that employees with an average salary below 39000 GBP aren’t the owners of cars that cost 200000 quid or more.

      Of course there aren’t Ferraris parked in front of CRUK. Its a joke.

      Are you familiar with the concept of irony ?


      • I’ve learned that irony is a concept to subtle for most faculty and administrators at universities.


  58. Niccolo Machiavelli

    Right, focussing on the “science”.

    You mean the fake data used to gain grants, accolades and position while bullying junior scientists, encouraging bullying and treating people like trash? If that is tough and ambitious, better being a “snowflake”.

    That is why people are stopping to support cancer research. This is corrupt politics, not Science. If the “science” is so good at CRUK-MI, then why nothing can be reproduced?

    Stop with the distractions. Yes, let’s see the science and how it works out for you. Anybody justifying this type of behaviour is not a Scientist, but a snake oil sales(person), a fraudster. That is disgusting!

    Less ambition, more creativity and real search for truth, not useless spin. Once a faker, always a faker. Or else … the whole thing will get defunded. How many times you have cured cancer in a paper? Exactly.

    Thank you Leonid!


  59. A victim

    CRUK should consider this case with no delay. As an ex-member of the Marais Lab (aka hell) I can only confirm all the allegations made here. I have witnessed terrible scenes: women crying because of their public humiliation in front of their lab mates, Richard Marais enjoying seeing them crying while thinking they are weak. Those were tears of frustration and impotence. We are not weak, we were not weak, nobody weak could survive in that laboratory. It was a Darwinian selection: only resilient scientists could work in that lab. While Lab meetings were bad, private meetings could be worse because there were no witnesses. I am glad there is a wall to write our complaints which have been silenced for years. Fear has fueled our silence. Fear to lose our jobs, to be excluded from conferences, to not publish again, to not get funding for our research.  I am worried to say my name, worried to be discovered by Richard Marais, I am worried about his power and his heavy hand. I just wish CRUK investigates this, they should contact Marais alumni (not the current hostages) and ask them for their testimony. As someone has commented here, some of us have succeeded despite Richard Marais. I was in the “you cannot work in melanoma” group. I also wish young scientists read this and do not ever apply to Richard Marais Lab.  #MeToo #StopwomencryinginSTEM
    Note: Take this description and multiply by 3, that is the accurate description of Caroline Springer.


  60. Just to let you know, if you google Richard Marais this story is first page, position 8 !


  61. John Bull

    I am writing as someone who has raised over £5,000 for Cancer Research UK in sponsored runs in the last 10 years. I lost my wife to breast cancer in 2014. Another fundraiser passed on the link to your blog to me. I am deeply upset about these accusations against the professors in Manchester. If any of them are true I feel very betrayed. Has Cancer Research UK made any response to these awful things? Would you be so kind as to post a link to it. Many thanks.


    • Dear John, CRUK is silent, just as they chose not to say anything about the massive research misconduct at ICR London: https://forbetterscience.com/2018/09/06/fake-data-untouchable-men-and-guilty-women-at-icr-london/


    • Ian Carpenter

      Sir, I totally agree with your concerns but, as someone that worked for years in cancer research thanks to CRUK funding, I would like to emphasize the vast majority of scientists believe in this work, are proffesionals, work our ass..s off to better understand cancer. Like many foreigners moving to UK I had to make quite a sacrifice to grow as scientist and we are well aware of the origin of the funding which we hugely respect. Please continue demanding these cases be clarified but do not stop believing in the vocational work we develop. Thanks for your fundarising efforts.


    • Benjamin

      Dear John.

      I am sorry to hear about your wife.

      As someone who has worked with Marais/ICR and who indeed myself conducted research for and with money from people like yourself, which I consider an honor and privilege. I can only state that this as horrible from the researcher point of view. Its despicable and a violation of not only the very foundation of science which is truth and trust but also a betrayal of patients and donors.

      Unfortunately most of what you can read above is correct. CRUK needs to cut out its own tumor. Marais is not alone though. There are also groups at ICR in London and indeed elsewhere. Its not just a UK problem but the UK is somewhat special in that a lot of cancer research is funded through charity.

      We need to fix this, including the abuse of trainees and other/junior PIs.


  62. Lena PI

    I wonder how the PI of an alleged scientific “misconduct” case is innocent and not responsible for the data he published where he signed as senior author. As a PI, I AM responsible for ALL the data generated in my lab. If the PI is suddenly in the “complainant” position he most likely lied before or he is lying now. My verdict, which is also my thought from the beginning, is that this story reeks of scapegoat and Richard Marais is a deceitful man who tried to frame one of his former postdocs to save himself. Much better if the former postdoc is a talented woman who can become a competitor. Marais’ alumni have revealed here terrible situations which should be investigated. My guess is that the victims toll from his lab is much higher of what we could imagine. The scientific community has the responsibility to stop this man from damaging more young scientists. As a female scientist I want to express my sympathy and support to the female victim. #MeToo


    • Benjamin

      Many people working with Marais, men and women have been harassed, bullied and falsely acccused. There is clearly a narcissist at large here. The science from his lab stinks, it is untrustworthy and damaging to an entire field of research. This mess will take a long time to clean up. Long live quantitative data and death and destruction to western blot based junk science and fraud.


  63. Patrick

    I am very surprised that The Guardian did not pickup this story yet.

    They seem quite good on serious matters like this :


    What is the best way to share this story with them Leonid ?


  64. Pingback: Disonestà scientifica all'estero e in Italia - Ocasapiens - Blog - Repubblica.it

  65. He was obsessed with her. He worshipped her. This false accusation could be retaliation because she rejected his offers and is successfully working in melanoma. Regrettably, this is the story of many women at the workplace. CRUK will protect him as Sanger protected Stratton of bullying allegations. ‘Too big to fall’ men are always protected. It’s a shame that women CEOs (Michelle and Nancy) allow this.
    PS It is beyond pathetic that he paid someone to clean his Wikipedia today.


  66. Robert MacKenzie

    Marais keeps on cleaning his Wikipedia entry, I wonder how much he is paying to keep it “clean”. Manchester University is an awful, dreadful place to work, corrupt and ruled by money and power. Marais fits right in.


  67. I do not work directly under Richard Marais but as anyone who works in CRUK MI, I have seen many things first hand. I will not comment on his “science” as the retraction is already explaining most of it. I simply do not understand how such a horrible human being can be appointed to direct the next generation of scientists?
    His post docs get yelled at routinely, they cry in the bathroom, they are afraid to speak of truth and live in fear of Richard’s fury.
    The fact is, CRUK MI has lost too many good staff since Richard took the directorship. I have had conversations with the leavers where they confessed that they can not work for such a director anymore without self loathing. At the end of the day, we all started here with a passion for science. Occasionally, people were brave enough to make official complains regarding Richard’s bullying after resignation, but HR (directly managed by Richard) never responded.

    Richard always has his speech of “I support female scientists” ready because the only thing he really cares about is a better Athena SWAN status in the subject of women in science. For those who doesn’t get the Athena SWAN, it stands for Scientific Women’s Academic Network. Better status opens up more funding opportunities. Every time Richard give his speech, all the female scientists that I know rolls their eyes in pure disgust and resentment.
    Maybe that was a speed dedicated to THE female scientist Romina and her only? oh wait, he threw her under the bus for his own “integrity” so maybe not that either. Who am I to contemplate the great mind of the director who is rightfully arrogant for his contribution to the mankind by curing cancer! he didn’t? ? ? does he know that??

    I know a lot of people live in fear of Richard because he is the director, but think about it, even those who filed a complain before leaving CRUK MI have found new jobs in science.

    The silence of Uni and CRUK is a reflection of the dark time that we are living in academia. I do wonder if some of these academic leaders have chosen the wrong career, as their talent should be better realized in political arena.


    • I can’t agree more with your description. It is truly disappointing yet not unexpected the email from Iain Foulkes to Schneider revealing CRUK’ stance on this affair. We all feel hopeless. CRUK donors should STOP fundraising for CRUK Manchester.
      The University of Manchester will not investigate his golden boy who just received 25M to rebuild his Institute. The University of Manchester is as dishonorable and unscrupulous as Marais is. Only wide media coverage would persuade these institutions to do something about this disgrace affecting so many good scientists.


  68. Rex Rictor

    R Marais must be stopped. All people should sign a petition or open letter and submit to the Ministry to demand an investigation. This could be setup with the people contributing comments here…


  69. UoM and CRUK should establish an effective complaints mechanism to allow former ICR and current/former CRUK MI staff to report suspicion of misconduct as an important element of an integrity management system, providing a fair and transparent process to investigate and sanction misconduct. This must extend beyond current workers of CRUK MI considering the very specific allegations made on this blog. This must not be organised by current HR. This will identify vulnerability areas as well as may contribute to raising awareness of expected behaviour standards for CRUK leadership. Adequate whistle-blowing protection also needs to be in place to ensure that current and former employees can report allegations of leadership misconduct without fear of retaliation.

    If Prof Richard Marais’ conduct is unimpeachable he should use this opportunity to open an independent, thorough investigation to reassure editors, grant bodies, employers, employees and donors. Or he can resign.


  70. The current U.K. system.


    Whistleblowers: ‘We spoke out and lost our jobs’
    By Rianna Croxford
    BBC News
    15 July 2019


  71. Whistleblower

    Caroline Springer selectively deletes data she does not like at lab meetings. Richard Marais approves this. Staff members can’t argue against her decisions. No drug discovery program should be run by her without close supervision. The lack of a safe environment to file complaints perpetuates this behavior from both Richard and Caroline. Filing a complaint puts our job in jeopardy. Caroline also runs her lab in a suspicious manner, hiding information for a part of her group and viceversa. She selects the experiments she wants to present in papers and meetings at Wellcome Trust and hides how many negatives there were. This has been ongoing for several years.


    • Ex abused postdoc

      They fund a relatively small number of people extremely well. They have systematically reduced the funding to non-core centres to basically nothing (Leeds went from many millions to tens of thousands overnight). They offer massive startups to successful Postdocs go start groups with little or no external peer review. There are very senior professors who have never written a proper grant who sit on other review panels because they are ‘successful’. This whole debacle shows if you throw enough money at an arrogant bully you’ll get a big paper, and then largely cover up the inevitable fallout. For a time the same cohort from chris Marshall’s lab we’re heading CRUK centres in Glasgow, Manchester and LRI- all essentially continuing his work (and dictating the direction of CRUK funding). Chris was a difficult character but a million miles better than the arseholes he produced. I had the misfortune of working for the one member of his group (who was a postdoc with all the aforementioned at the same time) who was a twisted, bitter witch. She couldn’t get funded for toffee, and couldn’t publish independently either. She had several bullying and harassment claims, including one that was successful.


  72. Urgent action required

    I wonder why the University of Manchester and Cancer Research UK had not yet arranged proper channels to file our complaints in a safe manner, protecting us from negative consequences while we safely give our testimony on the bullying we suffer from the Director. No authority from CRUK or UoM has visited our Institute to ask us how we feel and what we have to say. The senior management act like nothing has happened. A thorough investigation should be conducted without any further delay.


  73. I confirm the comments against the director. Worryingly, our institute posts on Twitter ‘how proud’ they are for having Caroline Springer presenting in the Women of Influence conference along with Michelle Mitchel – CRUK MI Tweet from 4 July 2019: “Seeing Prof Caroline Springer, from our @ddu_crukmi, at the #CRUKWoI event made us feel very proud! The Women of Influence initiative is a great way to encourage more #WomenInSTEM. Thanks to all these amazing #WomeninScience for being part of it! We want to see more of this!”

    Neither Richard Marais nor Caroline Springer have truly supported women in science. Quite the opposite, they have both banned them from working in similar research fields. It is ironic that Richard is an invited speaker of Women in Science Conferences. Hypocrisy knows no boundaries.

    Richard Marais should be investigated immediately or he should resign.



  74. Richard Marais should resign!

    Leonid reports that the ‘finding of research misconduct’ reached by the University of Manchester in the investigation of Dr Girotti has been retracted, suggesting that many of the accusations stated in this blog contain some truth. Whatever his motivation was, it appears that with his witch-hunt Professor Marais has tried to serve his own personal interest.
    What is despicable about the whole situation is that through his actions Richard Marais has caused major damage to all scientists and particularly to cancer research in Manchester.
    Clearly the success of cancer research in Manchester is not simply down to Richard Marais (as he might prefer to think). The success of cancer research in Manchester has been initiated by people who have helped to bring together the University, the Christie Hospital and CRUK, and the continuation of this success is dependent on the people who are still involved in running this alliance; the success is down to all the scientists who work extremely hard (and honest, not every scientist is bad by default!) at CRUK-MI and the University of Manchester, and of course it is down to the clinicians who translate and oversee the development of new therapies at the Christie. The Christie is a world-leading cancer hospital in its own right and lives are saved here every day (often based on improvements initiated by the scientists).
    It would be the worst outcome from all the discussions and comments posted here, if Richard Marais had managed to create such a negative impact that people will stop supporting cancer research in Manchester. If you don’t want to donate to CRUK anymore, then give to the Christie!

    People are serious about cancer research in Manchester, and as for Richard Marais, he should be ashamed of himself and he should do the honest thing and resign!


  75. There is abundant reason for hypervigilance in CRUK-Manchester. Richard Marais is responsible of serious recurrent bullying and harassment and has created an intimidating and humiliating working environment. I won’t go so far as others have here to suggest that he should resign. I think Richard Marais behavior and actions should be investigated by an expert committee. The testimonies presented here, even though anonymous, are red-flagging a problem known by the scientific community. Sadly, I have witnessed at the ICR subtle sexual harassment from Richard Marais to his female postdocs which is criminally and morally reprehensible. It would not be surprising if this behavior persisted in Manchester.


    • Rex Rictor

      Alan Ashworth? I thought you were banging all your students and postdocs too, together with Chris Lord?


  76. Richard Marais has systematically disadvantaged and discouraged anyone who he considered a future competitor. Undoubtedly, he tried to incriminate a postdoc to serve his interests. It is sinister that he did this to the female postdoc he formerly sexually intimidated. Academia is plagued and demeaned by abuse of power, bullying and sexual harassment. This has to stop and exemplary disciplinary sanctions against the perpetrators must be taken. The ICR and UM should join forces. And yes, Richard Marais should resign.


  77. Richard Marais was a determined scientist, a strong man, a risk taker, a patron of power in science and a monster. He is and has been a monster to the women scientists he mentored. Countless episodes in his lab we silenced and decided to not disclose publicly, and, although painful, many of us thought had made peace with.
    We brainwashed ourselves into thinking that it was the price to pay for having access to funding and technology; we hid from the responsibility to speak out with the excuse that enough people were already warned about what working in his lab was. None of us considered our voices important, nor did we think it would make a difference.
    In reality, we were trying to save ourselves the challenge of explaining several painful details to our colleagues and to the scientific community. And why, for so many years, we have been cordial to a man who used every chance to humiliate us in public and to block our careers. We are and we were ashamed to describe the details of what we witnessed and tried hard to forget.
    When so many former Marais alumni posted in this blog what Richard Marais has done to them, we had to confront our cowardice. As others, we felt that nobody would care about our pain and suffer, likely as an effect of the many times we were told, especially by Richard, that we were nobody.
    We are inspired by those who had the courage to speak out, especially in a scientific community that has this man as Director of a prestigious institute and who was, unashamedly, a candidate for the presidency of the AACR, one of the most respected associations in cancer in the world. Richard Marais has been accused of serial bullying and harassment. This is all true. He is a misogynistic bully with power. And there is so much more to say.
    The stories described here show clearly how a man in power can do anything he wants to women. Well, we hope, not anymore. Richard Marais resignation is what we are all waiting for.


  78. Rex Rictor

    It is not about a man or a woman. It is about a malignant damaged personality. A personality disorder. RM is a narcissist and an abuser. His actions have damaged and hurt men and women in his lab and beyond – from trainees to other PI’s. He is a monster and he shall be prosecuted on the alter of truth, in a Court of Law.


  79. JasonBJason

    Scientists who recently left the Drug Discovery Unit at CRUK-MI (they could not bear working for unscrupulous Caroline Springer) inform that there are SERIOUS problems in two recent papers from the Marais/Springer toxic duet:

    2-Aminomethylene-5-Sulfonylthiazole Inhibitors of Lysyl Oxidase (LOX) and LOXL2 Show Significant Efficacy in Delaying Tumor Growth.

    Smithen DA, …… Marais R, Springer C.

    J Med Chem. 2019 Aug 20

    Anti-metastatic Inhibitors of Lysyl Oxidase (LOX): Design and Structure-Activity Relationships.

    Leung L, …..Tang H, Marais R, Springer C.

    J Med Chem. 2019 Jun 27;62(12):5863-5884.

    Also, Marais has 3 recent corrections in Pubmed:

    Author Correction: Lysyl oxidase drives tumour progression by trapping EGF receptors at the cell surface.

    Tang H, …. Springer C, Marais R.

    Nat Commun. 2019 Jul 18;10(1):3151.

    Correction: In vitro Biological Characterization of a Novel, Synthetic Diaryl Pyrazole Resorcinol Class of Heat Shock Protein 90 Inhibitors.

    Sharp SY, …..Marais R, Pearl L, Eccles S, Aherne W, McDonald E, Workman P.

    Cancer Res. 2019 Jan 1;79(1):287.

    Publisher Correction: Ultraviolet radiation-induced DNA damage is prognostic for outcome in melanoma.

    Trucco LD, …..Dhomen N, Marais R.

    Nat Med. 2019 Feb;25(2):350.

    Food for thought…. the “melanoma super star” real face has been unmasked at last.

    I would suggest someone posts the results of the 2019 survey at CRUK-MI. People have expressed their minds about Marais and the results speak for themselves…


  80. Can I suggest the best way to uncover all this is for members of his team to use their phones or other small devices to video or just put it under the desk on record during lab meetings etc. I think you’ll find that videos with direct evidence are extremely powerful. Wish I was there to do it myself, but that is of course easy for me to say as it is no longer my career to care about. I understand completely these nasty pieces of work. I know several of them first hand and cannot agree more with what people have written. I have seen people leave science (something they dreamt of doing as a kid) because of these people. Heartbreaking to see, but they are now much happier funnily enough. Get everyone on board in the lab recording everything. Start a youtube channel and get it on there. Yeh ok you will probably get lawsuits etc threatened, but if you stand together it will be hard for them to prove who actually did the recording. But I do fully understand the problems and that it risks damaging your careers. It is so easy for me to write that now I am out of it. However, if the likes of Richard are reading this then you can rest assured all those patients made to suffer a clinical trial because of falsified data will be made aware and I will help to raise a lawsuit against you and the CRUK. The benefits of me switching to a job in law. There are very senior lawyers here rubbing there hands for something like this.


  81. I have been passed information in relation to Richard’s inhibitors that they are believed to be.. what is the scientific word? Yes ,’bollocks’. This is well known internally and his ex wife has been put in place to close the doors.
    You think you are untouchable richard? Think again. You will be held accountable.


    • Rex Rictor

      @YouTuber is there something that could be done as a group. RM should be prosecuted but so should CRUK and Wellcome for protecting him.


  82. Former RM postdoc

    I never thought bullying would happen to me. I thought I was almost immune, having made it through school and college unscathed. But I had the misfortune to work with Richard Marais who has literally made my life hell. He was insecure in the extreme, to the point that anyone who managed to do their job well, who had friends in work or generally just got on with people, became the subject of his vitriol. I worked in Richard Marais lab for three years. I held a postdoctoral position in a very competitive project. I was really good at it and I had great ideas. I was much better than my boss and that made him really angry. I was denigrated and humiliated constantly, when eventually, I made a bullying/harassment case to HR.
    My story was swept under the carpet because he was the director of the Institute. HR are useless in this regard. Their only apparent function is to ensure the smooth running of the status quo for this in Senior Management. Complaints magically disappear and there is a continual of denial of facts and evidence.
    If you are getting bullied by Richard speak up quickly, don’t let it fester into ruining your life. Go to the University or to CRUK. Go to the media. Film him, record him. This bully / power-abuser must pay the years of misery he infringed to us.

    Liked by 1 person

  83. Rotten from the top

    Enter Caroline Wilkinson into the CRUK MI cluster f. Her sole purpose is to lie, falsify, cover up, basically do everything possible to protect her senior management cronies at CRUK MI. Chief Obfuscation Officer. It seems her nose couldn’t bend any further with all the lies spewed.

    I tell you what from my interactions with Marais, Dive, Springer, Wilkinson..they are like children who never had a proper job. No understanding of how to be a leader; Just lied their way up the Academia pyramid. Now they’re at the top(ish), got to keep their place somehow. They are afraid. If they lose their job, what else will they do, where will they go? They don’t know how to work and behave professionally with peers let alone produce an honest piece of work which hasn’t been plucked from the tree of bllsht. They can only survive in this toxic bullying swamps of academia. Its a systemic issue which works for them. They should consider to dissolve CRUK MI for a start, it’s not a charity, its a playground for said bullies and thieving b**tards. If only we could let the public peer behind the curtain. Anyone fancy making a FOI request or tipping off the Guardian?


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  85. I had the displeasure of experiencing the arrogance of Marais and his minion Girotti during my staying at the CRUKMI and it is a true shame to discover that their efforts to cover up this scandal have been successful.

    A big thank you to Leonid Schneider for the content of this blog and for trying to improve the state of biomedical research!


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