Guest post

Losing research ethics and mental health in Daley lab

A former Harvard postdoc from the lab of George Q Daley tells his story.

This is a personal story of a former postdoc from the lab of George Q Daley, dean of Harvard Medical School and international star stem cell researcher. The postdoc started very promisingly, until he collapsed under intense competition, blew the whistle on suspected research misconduct in Daley lab, and then got sacked, coincidentally or not, on the same day. The postdoc, who will remain unnamed here, even if everyone involved knows his identity, lost everything, including his mental health.

Regardless of whoever bears the blame here: there is strong evidence that Daley may have coerced his postdoc into undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, by doctors Daley himself has assigned. The ex-postdoc alleges the psychiatrists have been discussing his case with Daley, a breach of doctor-patient confidentiality privilege if true. They sure were in close phone and email contact. I contacted Daley and both psychiatrists (one a Harvard employee) with the allegations, but the only reply came instead from Paul Donovan, Harvard Children’s Hospital head of communications, who refused all comment.

It also appears that Daley failed in his duties as principal investigator and let research misconduct to happen. The suspected lab member here is Clara Soria-Valles, a mentee of Daley’s former collaborator Carlos Lopez-Otin, formerly star cancer and ageing researcher in Spain, now St Carlos of Oviedo, martyred by a withdrawn Nature mentoring award and 9 retractions. One of these retractions was a Nature Cell Biology paper authored (and apparently fabricated) by Soria-Valles while in Daley lab. Even after that lesson, Daley insisted on publishing her next stem cell study, without proper external verification and despite protests of the collaborating protagonist. Whom Daley had sacked when he blew the whistle on Soria-Valles.

It is quite possible Soria-Valles was not the only Daley lab member keen to impress her boss with fancy results for top journals, at any cost. This is why I illustrate the narrative below with PubPeer evidence in Daley papers (with explanatory legends), some of which was flagged by the image integrity sleuth Elisabeth Bik.

Wang et al PNAS 2005. PubPeer here. Last author Daley never replied on PubPeer.
gel splicing was accepted at the time of the paper, but dicing within a lane was not accepted at any time

Losing research ethics and mental health in Daley lab

by former George Q Daley postdoc

In the laboratory of Dean George Daley at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, I was successful on the surface. I successfully published my work in the journal Nature, which is considered one of the highest-impact journals. I had achieved the generation of hematopoietic stem cells from human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, a long-sought-after goal in the hematology field for decades. This new technology will enable the modeling of blood disease and the study of human blood development. 

Being a troublemaker

Unfortunately, my success disturbed my colleagues. Since my publication, I faced not only increased competition in the lab but numerous acts of harassment. The laboratory was becoming more cannibalistic. I had suspicions that my experiments were sabotaged and reagents were stolen from me. As an example, I noticed many cases when dishes of cultured cells seemed to have disappeared from my incubator, same for lentiviral vectors from the freezer. Moreover, my reagents were possibly used by other colleagues without my consent. These events severely disrupted my ongoing experiments, I appealed to the lab email list and directly to Dean Daley. The situation did not change.

When I aired my concerns at a lab meeting, a public forum where laboratory issues are usually discussed, Dean Daley said “it is vindictive” to criticize colleagues in public. Dean Daley blamed me “not being generous to lab members”. Instead of working to alleviate the intra-lab competition, Dean Daley brought even more people to work on my project, making the competition  harsher and worsening the situation. The conflict in the lab became more intense and hostile around me, and unbearable. One day in mid-November 2017, after I aired my concerns at the lab meeting, Dean Daley requested me to come to the laboratory before 8 AM. He asked me to come to his office. There, in front of Trista North, a junior faculty member who runs the Daley Laboratory since 2017, Dean Daley told me that he no longer wishes to keep me in the lab after June 2018 when my fellowship ends. 

Zhu et al Cell 2011. Daley announced in September 2019: “I am reviewing the data and have asked others to do the same.

Psychiatric examination on Daley’s orders

At the end of January 2018, I emailed Dean Daley stating that I could not continue working under hostile and unbearable laboratory conditions. Dean Daley replied to me via email and criticized me for delaying work. Immediately afterward, Dean Daley emailed me and ordered me to have counseling sessions. I was presented with two psychiatrists by the introduction of Dean Daley. One was a local Japanese counselor Kumiko Ide in Boston and the other was the  psychiatrist David DeMaso affiliated with Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Dean Daley was DeMaso’s superior. But I was too naïve to consider what it means. 

I was under the impression that sessions with my communications with my counselors would be privileged and protected by doctor-patient confidentiality. Instead, shockingly, my counselors communicated with Dean Daley over phone and email in what appeared to me to be a gross violation of professional ethics. For instance, Dean Daley phone-called to Ide during my session. I was asked to leave the session so that Dean Daley and Ide can talk over the phone. In February 2018, in my final session with DeMaso, he told me that Dean Daley does not like that I make claims about an intra-lab conflict. DeMaso told me that he found no evidence of mental illness, but that he needed to find an “insert a diagnosis” into the official medical records of Boston Children’s Hospital. During my medical leave, I was sent to Ide’s boss in my home country. The 86-old man attributed my “psychosis” to the lack of my parents in my early life, and inserted a made-up diagnosis, sent to Ide and DeMaso. 

Postdoc’s email to Daley and others, raising concerns about Soria-Valles’ work

Sacked for whistleblowing

I was fired and had my US visa immediately revoked on the same day I reported to Dean Daley my concern about the research integrity of my colleague, Clara Soria-Valles. This is how it happened:

In February 2018, Dean Daley asked me to phone call him. Over the phone, Dean Daley ordered me to take an immediate medical leave. The following day, I received an official order of medical leave for three months from the psychiatrist and Human Resources at Boston Children’s Hospital. Immediately afterward, my work ID was inactivated. My salary from my ASH fellowship was suspended in mid-February by Boston Children’s Hospital when the medical leave started. Dean Daley knew that the ASH fellowship was my sole source of income. Also, my health insurance was suspended. I applied to receive leave insurance, but my documents were not accepted. I went to Japan in mid-February 2018 and have been homeless near the Tokyo area during the 18 February – 31 March 2018 period. The lack of salary caused me extreme financial hardship. During this period, I ended up sleeping on the street or in shelter houses. 

Sacked by Harvard, US visa terminated, banned from communication with Daley lab members

I briefly returned to Boston in mid-March to prepare for a faculty job interview at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. I asked a Daley lab manager to give me a new memo pad to have with me during the interview. Soon after the interview, Trista North, a junior faculty of the Daley lab, emailed me asking how the interview went. I felt it was weird because I did not tell anyone in the Daley lab the exact date of my interview. Later I learned that Dean Daley had instructed his lab members to report all my contact with them. 

In March 2018, Dean Daley emailed and requested me to resign from the lab. He reasoned that: 

  1. it was inappropriate to return to Boston during medical leave; 
  2. I had provided incomplete documentation regarding my medical leave; 
  3. I had contacted Daley Lab staff during medical leave; and 
  4. my American Society of Hematology (ASH) fellowship, the source of my salary, was supposed to expire in June 2018. 

Doulatov et al Cell Stem Cell 2013. PubPeer here. Bik: “SOX4 panel. The first 2 lanes look unexpectedly similar, and there is a sharp transition visible between them“. Daley never replied.

After my removal from the Daley Laboratory on March 2018, I received emails from Dean Daley every week. In these emails, he demanded to have an open conversation over phone call to learn about my location and my current activities.  However, because I had a previous negative experience conversing with Dean Daley over the phone, I declined his requests for phone calls. 

At the beginning of May 2018, I emailed Dean Daley and my colleagues in the Daley Laboratory to inform them about the following: 

1) how Dean Daley ordered me to go on medical leave and requested my resignation; 

2) how Dean Daley and the counselors assigned to my care shockingly broke the doctor-patient confidentiality I had expected regarding privileged conversations with my counselors; 

3) my concerns about the episome paper. 

Dean Daley responded to my email by criticizing that I had publicized our dispute and described it as “troubling.” Although he purported that he wanted to support me, I received the official letter of termination of my employment from Human Resource of Boston Children’s Hospital in just a few hours following his email. I was sacked the same day I aired the Daley lab my concern about the integrity of my colleague

Kim et al Nature 2010. PubPeer here. Also: “Kim et al. showed that blood-derived iPS cells prone to follow blood lineage. In contrast, follow up study by Kyttala et al. did not observe lineage bias.” Daley never replied.

My doubts about the Soria-Valles paper

Although I was listed as co-first author of an episome-reprogramming paper, I was very concerned about the scientific integrity of Clara Soria-Valles, the lead author and my former colleague. Soria-Valles was a former PhD student of Carlos Lopez-Otin and a former visiting PhD student in the Daley lab. After completing her PhD in the Lopez-Otin lab, Soria-Valles joined the Daley lab as a postdoctoral fellow and started a new project in 2016. The project was the generation of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells from human pluripotent stem cells using episomes, a follow-up study to my Nature paper. Clara Soria-Valles and I initially worked together and started conflicting about the project. She soon took the initiative of the episome work, and I was a mere technical help. After I was fired, Clara Soria-Valles completed a draft of the episome paper and subsequently left the lab.

In early 2018, various anomalies (suspicious image fabrications, sample swapping and arbitrary statistics) were reported in the Soria-Valles Nature Cell Biology (NCB) paper from 2015 on several websites including PubPeer. It is worth noting that Dean George Daley is one of the principal investigator co-authors who supervised this work. Her paper with Daley and Lopez-Otin focused on a signaling pathway that blocked the generation of stem cells. Most interestingly, she claimed to be able to generate stem cells more efficiently from patients with progeria syndrome. Clara Soria-Valles left the Daley laboratory when the accusations on PubPeer began to surge. 

Although the issues surrounding my former colleague Clara Soria-Valles were troubling, I especially found Dean Daley’s involvement with her study, which contained manipulated data using patient samples, to be most disturbing and shocking. I did not know whether I could trust the scientific judgment of Dean Daley. For months, the principal investigators – who are responsible for the data in the paper – failed to take any public responsibility, refused to acknowledge or address any of the criticisms raised on the PubPeer website. 

In October 2018, the editor of NCB alerted the readers that data reliability had been questioned. On December 17, 2018, the paper was retracted. The retraction note acknowledged the lack of raw data for most of the figures, including graphs and immunoblots. Numerous problems in figure preparation were identified.

Because of the negative attention that Clara Soria-Valles’s work has received and its eventual retraction, I felt deeply uneasy about the data she generated for her episome paper. Clara Soria-Valles had operated in a largely unsupervised fashion. She never shared numerical data on which graphs in the episome paper are based, reminding me of her flaw and retraction of Nature Cell Biology. She had prepared all the figures herself.

A critical piece of data is analyzing the gene expression patterns of stem cells at a single-cell level. I recalled that Soria-Valles handled and submitted all samples of single-cell RNA-seq without any corroboration or supervision by other lab members, including the Principal Investigator of the laboratory, Dean George Daley. She also annotated the dataset from the most critical experiments, such as confirming the generation of episome stem cells, alone without any corroboration or supervision. She had her technician conduct the experiments in a single-blinded manner, then she alone would annotate which samples were which. Working with her, I remember that Clara Soria-Valles always wanted to conduct experiments and graph preparation independently without being seen by others in the lab. I recalled that her data and bar graphs always improved with every subsequent revision of her episome paper. Moreover, I cannot recall a single instance in which she showed me the raw data that allegedly served as the basis for her bar graphs.

I was especially concerned that my Principal Investigator Dean George Daley showed little interest in obtaining independent corroboration and validation of her claims. There is no doubt in my mind that the same failure of Dean Daley to supervise that gave rise to the Soria-Valles NCB debacle, which later culminated in retraction of Soria-Valles NCB paper, was also occurring again with the episome paper.

Coauthor, or backup scapegoat?

I was deeply troubled. When Dean Daley sent me a draft of the episome paper in April 2018, I requested that Dean Daley have other members of the lab replicate her work. In early May 2018, I emailed the entire lab my concern about the integrity of the episome paper. Dean Daley fired me on the same day. 

Kim et al PNAS 2013. Bik: “with the dorsal views, part of the photos (green boxes) share similarities, but other parts do not.” PubPeer here, Daley never replied.

I did not hear from the Daley Laboratory or Dean Daley for months and suspected that the laboratory could not replicate Soria-Valles work. Because of the nature of my communications with Dean Daley, his bullying predisposition and harshly manipulative behavior by him and others, I wanted to sever my connection with Dean Daley and the Daley Laboratory. I maintained no contact with Dean Daley and lab members. I wanted to move on and start a new future. However, at the beginning of October 2018, I received an email from Dean Daley containing the latest draft of the episome paper. Dean Daley then told me that others in the lab were able to replicate the results claimed by Soria-Valles. He wrote:

In the last few months, we have confirmed engraftment from iPS cells that were differentiated into HE, transfected with episomes, and injected into mice entirely independently of Clara (and you). We would now like to move forward with submission and hope that you will agree to be a co-author. Please find attached the figures we would like to submit for publication to Stem Cell Reports.

But the new draft did not have any updates since Soria-Valles left. There was not a single piece of new data other fellows were supposed to have generated after Soria-Valles had left the lab. None of the assigned authors remained in the lab. Because of the criticisms that Clara Soria-Valles was receiving on the PubPeer website and eventual retraction of her Nature Cell Biology paper, I was suspicious. To address my doubts, I requested that Dean Daley send me the raw data he claimed other colleagues had generated. 

Instead, Dean Daley again insisted on having a phone call to explain the data. This alarmed me. I was very concerned that the raw data may not exist. He emailed me several times — all of those emails asked me to have a phone call with him. In some emails, he rudely told me “it’s time to start behaving as a proper colleague. If you wish to continue to be a coauthor we will have to speak.” In the other emails, he tried to moderate his tone, saying “I’d like to support you in reestablishing your scientific program”. His last email named my workplace, “I understand you have initiated a postdoc at […]”. Because of my previous negative experience having a phone call with Dean Daley, I still felt compelled to decline his request for a phone call.

Additionally, my suspicions and doubts about the episome paper were growing due to his evading to provide raw data. I was disturbed to observe both: first, a trend of Dean Daley’s failure to take supervision of Clara Soria-Valles and her work seriously, and second, a pressure on me to take responsibility for a failing study of the dishonest first author that was not my own anyway. I was especially concerned that the principal investigator of my former laboratory, Dean George Daley, was rushing towards submitting a paper to Stem Cell Reports without checking the raw data and showing little interest to ensure that the science was reproducible.

To this day, I have not received a single piece of raw data showing that the work of Clara Soria-Valles could be independently replicated. At the time of writing, it is unclear whether Dean Daley has submitted the episome paper to Stem Cell Reports or any other journals without my name listed as a co-author. 

Daley’s shoddy science

It should be emphasized that other issues regarding Dean Daley’s science have been raised by the research integrity expert Dr. Elizabeth Bik. This included data manipulation in a preprint describing artifacts that emerge when shRNA is used to study cancer cell proliferation. Additionally, it appears that major papers from Dean Daley’s laboratory were rushed to publication. 

In at least one case, a major claim by Dean Daley’s laboratory was called into question. In 2008, Daley’s laboratory published one of the first reports of reprogramming human somatic cells to iPS cells using retrovirus (Park et al.). This study is Dean Daley’s most cited paper. The generation of iPS cells usually results in the silencing of integrated retrovirus harboring the reprogramming factors as the endogenous pluripotency genes become active. However, all of the reported iPS cells in Park et al. had active retrovirus expression, indicating that these cells failed to fully reprogram. This is in stark contrast to the first human iPS cells reported by Nobel Laureate Shinya Yamanaka that were fully reprogrammed and silenced virus transgenes. 

Park et al Nature 2008. PubPeer here, one user speculated if I am part of an anti-Daley conspiracy: “Perhaps Professor Daley is being trolled because he knows too much?

Additionally, in the same study, Dean Daley claimed that the addition of potent cancer-causing hTERT and Large T was required to generate iPS cells from adult somatic cells. This claim has been thoroughly discredited by dozens of groups that have shown human reprogramming does not require hTERT or Large T. Daley and colleagues claimed that all of their iPS cells lacked hTERT and Large T integration. However, they did not show their RT-PCR data for hTERT and Large T integration in human iPS cells. It is important to note that one single study used Large T to boost the generation of human iPS cells, but human iPS cells generated with Large T produced a cell line with 100% karyotypically abnormal cells. Thus the claim of Daley and colleagues proved counterproductive to the reprogramming field. 

Afterword

My history at the Daley Laboratory, to a certain extent, bears a striking resemblance to the case of Gustavo German reported in Science Magazine. Gustavo German was a former Harvard graduate student who was forced to undergo a mental health exam after claiming that research misconduct occurred in the laboratory of Lee Rubin, also at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. Gustavo German ended up filing a restraining order against Lee Rubin. It is also worth noting that William Lensch, previous Executive Director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and current Strategic Advisor to Dean Daley, was involved in the series of events that led to the forced mental health exam of Gustavo German.

Gunawardane et al Cancer Research 2005. PubPeer here. Last author Joan Brugge: “This mistake does not in any way affect the conclusions of the report.”

As of March 2020, I had applied to more than several hundred positions, got several potential offers, all were terminated at the final points. Some universities informed me that they were concerned about the circulating information about me and Dean Daley. At some places, I had hours-long interviews where I was told that I was so ridiculous that I fought against such a big academician. Interviewers forced me to regret my mistake then told me to get lost. I am leaving academia unable to continue in my career. But I believe I am obligated to expose how the academic system is corrupted by the power of one man. 

I have kept all emails substantiating the events I have described above, and they are available upon request.


25 comments on “Losing research ethics and mental health in Daley lab

  1. Ana Pedro

    It happened something similar to me too: I was forbidden of doing experiments or assessing the animal facility, I was suggested to review my mental health and to pick up the first flight back to Portugal with the excuse a relative died.

    Like

  2. This is a very unfortunate but not surprising story. Ive been a perma-doc most of may career and have worked in 5 labs. What I have learned is that for me to keep my mental sanity, I have to have absolutely no ambition at all, because often the projects don’t work and it has nothing to do with you, or the situation changes beyond your control and it may hurt you. If you have no ambition, its far less painful when this happens. However, the downside of having no ambition is that our American Capitalist with a capital C society, and maybe your family, see you as weak and possibly as a failure. I remind myself constantly that gcareful science no matter how the project goes, or if I lose my job, or if my family hates me for not being promoted means I have lead a successful life. Mike? Are you there? Care to comment, or rather couter-point? I sill think we can make a business in China together with respirators on…

    Like

  3. Gunawardane et al Cancer Research 2005. PubPeer here. Last author Joan Brugge: “This mistake does not in any way affect the conclusions of the report.”

    Same is true here:

    Mol Biol Cell. 2010 Jul 1;21(13):2355-66. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E09-09-0824. Epub 2010 May 12.
    Unregulated ARF6 activation in epithelial cysts generates hyperactive signaling endosomes and disrupts morphogenesis.
    Tushir JS1, Clancy J, Warren A, Wrobel C, Brugge JS, D’Souza-Schorey C.
    Author information
    1
    Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA.

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/BAF18135586E647112068B9F4A0E76

    Figure 3A.

    Figure 3B.

    Like

  4. Gunawardane et al Cancer Research 2005. PubPeer here. Last author Joan Brugge: “This mistake does not in any way affect the conclusions of the report.”

    Same is true here:

    Cancer Res. 2009 Mar 15;69(6):2244-51. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-3398. Epub 2009 Mar 3.
    Fibroblast growth factor receptor 1-transformed mammary epithelial cells are dependent on RSK activity for growth and survival.
    Xian W1, Pappas L, Pandya D, Selfors LM, Derksen PW, de Bruin M, Gray NS, Jonkers J, Rosen JM, Brugge JS.
    Author information
    1
    Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/6CE8F1E7F5A7E25CD432BAAA1FBA79

    Figures 4D and 6C.

    Like

  5. Gunawardane et al Cancer Research 2005. PubPeer here. Last author Joan Brugge: “This mistake does not in any way affect the conclusions of the report.”

    Same is true here:

    J Cell Biol. 2002 Apr 15;157(2):265-75. Epub 2002 Apr 8.
    Coordinate interactions of Csk, Src, and Syk kinases with [alpha]IIb[beta]3 initiate integrin signaling to the cytoskeleton.
    Obergfell A1, Eto K, Mocsai A, Buensuceso C, Moores SL, Brugge JS, Lowell CA, Shattil SJ.
    Author information
    1
    Division of Vascular Biology, Department of Cell Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/DBFE7B98B7768975FAD80C5E683D1E

    Figure 8.

    Figure 6.

    Like

  6. Gunawardane et al Cancer Research 2005. PubPeer here. Last author Joan Brugge: “This mistake does not in any way affect the conclusions of the report.”

    Same is true here:

    Genes Dev. 2013 Aug 1;27(15):1718-30. doi: 10.1101/gad.220897.113.
    Chaperone-mediated autophagy degrades mutant p53.
    Vakifahmetoglu-Norberg H1, Kim M, Xia HG, Iwanicki MP, Ofengeim D, Coloff JL, Pan L, Ince TA, Kroemer G, Brugge JS, Yuan J.
    Author information
    1
    Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.

    Figures S4B and S4E.

    There has been acorrection for figures Figure 5C and Supplemental Figure S2C
    http://genesdev.cshlp.org/content/30/7/870.long

    More muddled figures.
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/F86C8354CA74DC6F3D3F0A74CB4C94

    Like

    • Zebedee

      Gunawardane et al Cancer Research 2005. PubPeer here. Last author Joan Brugge: “This mistake does not in any way affect the conclusions of the report.”

      Same is true here:

      Cancer Res. 2016 Dec 15;76(24):7168-7180. Epub 2016 Oct 20.
      ERK and p38 MAPK Activities Determine Sensitivity to PI3K/mTOR Inhibition via Regulation of MYC and YAP.
      Muranen T1, Selfors LM1, Hwang J1, Gallegos LL1, Coloff JL1, Thoreen CC2,3,4,5, Kang SA2,3,4,5, Sabatini DM2,3,4,5, Mills GB6, Brugge JS7.
      Author information
      1
      Department of Cell Biology and Ludwig Center at Harvard, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
      2
      Department of Biology, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
      3
      Department of Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
      4
      Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
      5
      Broad Institute of Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
      6
      Department of Systems Biology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.
      7
      Department of Cell Biology and Ludwig Center at Harvard, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

      https://pubpeer.com/publications/9BFC4E1E11D8585224260B5E68A731

      Figures 2D and Supplemental S1D.

      Like

  7. Control Negative

    Also, the content of the following paper by the Daley’s lab has been entirely discredited: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18536715. Several studies performed over a dozen of years (including some co-authored by Dr. Kubaczka during her Ph.D. in the laboratory of Prof. Schorle) clearly rejected the hypothesis that Ras/Mapk signaling promotes trophectoderm formation from embryonic stem cells and mouse embryos.

    Like

  8. A famous German professor played the same evil deed a few times with a few victims. Besides ruining lives, his other hobby is faking WBs.

    Like

  9. Before I quit academia three years ago, I had the impression that ethics was more and more considered. In my department, there was at least twice a year a presentation for PhD students on the topic. I found that great, but after I revealed plagiarism in the PhD of a colleague, I soon realized that none of these talks prepared the students to the shitstorm they would face if they opened their mouth. You are told that you have to behave ethically and what an ethical behaviour is, but no one tells you that you will be left on your own if you naively believe that everyone thinks ethics is great and if you speak out. If you are a student or a postdoc, be ready to be crushed if you do not have the support of your PI. It is better to think that since you are no faculty, you are no one. If you open your mouth on plagiarism, fake experiments or fake pictures or anything else that fails ethics deceptively, you won’t be celebrated. There is a great chance that you’ll first be seen and treated as a pain in the ass and this is the start for troubles, possibly real big. This is no reason to shut up and forget your principles, but you need to be ready and you have to anticipate everything that‘s gonna happen. On the other hand, if you manage the situation, you may build your reputation and you may gain respect from people for whom ethics really matter. It will be a kind of selection rule that will help you avoid troublesome collaborations. The downside of ethics, especially in a competitive field of research, is probably to publish fewer papers and then have to resign because, truth is ethics weighs so little in the realm of H-index.

    Like

    • That is true. PhD students have to participate annually in hypocrite lectures about ethics in science, while the lecturers are often professional cheaters. It is similar to the compulsory party school seminars in the DDR time.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Cardiovasc Res. 2012 Dec 1;96(3):391-400. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvs253. Epub 2012 Aug 31.
    Functional vascular smooth muscle cells derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells via mesenchymal stem cell intermediates.
    Bajpai VK1, Mistriotis P, Loh YH, Daley GQ, Andreadis ST.
    Author information
    1
    Bioengineering Laboratory, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Buffalo, The State University of New York, 908 Furnas Hall, Amherst, NY 14260-4200, USA.

    Figure 2C. Much more similar than you would expect.

    Like

    • Reply by Cardiovascular Research Editorial Office:

      “We have asked two independent reviewers to conduct in-depth image analysis and they have concluded that there is no evidence of data tampering. This was also reviewed by the ESC Journal Family Ethics Committee who agree with their findings. We have deemed that no correction is needed “

      Like

  11. Wafthrudnir

    Heads up. I remember that more than half a decade ago I underwent some similar shit (blew the whistle, was removed from papers subsequently, was threatened by a Max Planck Director that he/she will make sure that I will be filling up cabinets in a department store, poison pen letters to colleagues, etc), but came out stronger in the aftermath.
    Leaving academia, especially if one is passionate and exhibits integrity, leaves one grieving for a long time. And rightfully so. Many years of education and personal sacrifices feel wasted in hindsight. But the beautiful thing is that while academic supervisors seem all-powerful, their opinion hardly matters OUTSIDE the ivory tower. No one will care about your lab experience. What they will see instead is that you went to HMS. Use this!
    There is joy to be found outside of academic research, while no one can take away your knowledge and the ability to still enjoy scientific research from the sidelines. The most important learning however is that you left academia with your integrity intact – something you can be proud of and tell in the future after some time off healing. Such situations determine which kind of person one will be.
    Again, there is a time for grieving, but there is life and joy (and better pay) found past this valley.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. These poison pen letters are much used by some power-addicted idiots, but they opinion does not really matter even within their own circle. Leaving academia is not the only way to survive such attacks.

    Like

  13. Lack of disclosure of COI in Daley’s papers. Daley and MPM Capital.
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/E8874B8B02107526F141197718C646#3
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/A600E09BABFB5C7A28B86BBA6F8AD9#24
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/CC2645E6699CB04102B6632962552C#6

    Last year Nature Biotechnology clearly pointed out the relationship between Daley and MPM Capital
    “Daley, who had a long-standing relationship with MPM Capital”
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41587-020-0506-3

    Like

  14. New PubPeer comment on Daley’s other paper.
    Figure 2B – more similar than expected (contrast enhanced)

    Generation of induced pluripotent stem cells from human blood
    Blood (2009) – 1 Comment
    pubmed: 19299331 doi: 10.1182/blood-2009-02-204800 issn: 1528-0020 issn: 0006-4971

    Yuin-Han Loh , Suneet Agarwal , In-Hyun Park , Achia Urbach , Hongguang Huo , Garrett C. Heffner , Kitai Kim , Justine D. Miller , Kitwa Ng , George Q. Daley

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/F6A318E9BCD12D8BBF156367B49DB6

    Like

  15. Besides his quote of Langston Hughes to sweet word on systemic racism, we should not ignore that the Dean of Harvard Med School did not guarantee payment to his dining workers during the COVID19 crisis.
    Note- The dining workers’ strike had irked the inaugural operation of his deanship back in 2016.
    The payment was only made after the article gained attention.
    https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/harvard-pay-all-your-workers

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  16. Pingback: AACR conjures undead Count Fakula Michael Karin – For Better Science

  17. Last week, one of Daley’s latest blonde postdoc hires Ashlee Conway presented the work at the ISSCR virtual annual meeting 2020. Most of this work that Ashlee Conway presented as her own was actually done by a female black medical student who previously worked at the Daley lab for 2 years, Tolulope O Rosanwo. Rosanwo held lots of benefits to satisfy Daley’s gesture of minority hires. Rosanwo was black, female, and a patient advocate of sickle cell disease. Rosanwo was brilliant and worked hard enough to generate most of the data, that she presented at the ASH meeting 2018. Looking through both abstracts below, the only contribution Ashlee Conway made was the last part, putting an inorganic alternative called PVA in the media.
    A 2 years of work by a black medical student that generated most of the data was exploited by Daley’s favoritism.

    The original work by Tolulope O Rosanwo (2018). Note that Ashlee Conway was not on the author list at this point.
    ASH 2018
    Optimized Beta-Globin Expression and Enucleation from Induced Red Blood Cells for In Vitro Modeling of Sickle Cell Disease
    Tolulope O Rosanwo, BA, Melissa Kinney, PhD, Martha A Clark, PhD, Linda T Vo, PhD, R. Grant Rowe, MD PhD, Natasha M. Archer, MD, Matthew M Heeney, MD, Thorsten Schlaeger, PhD, Daniel E. Bauer, MD PhD, Mark D. Fleming, MD DPhil, Manoj T Duraisingh, PhD, Stuart H. Orkin, MD, Carlo Brugnara, MD, Trista North, PhD, George Q. Daley, MD PhD
    Abstract
    Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) hold remarkable capacity for disease modeling and the development of novel therapeutic treatments for sickle cell disease (SCD). hiPSCs can theoretically produce all cell types including induced red blood cells (iRBCs). Sickle cell patients, in particular, could benefit from autologous, engineered red blood cells (RBCs). Many patients possess rare Rh phenotypes, are allo-sensitized to blood products and are at risk of iron overload from recurrent transfusions. Therefore, the generation of personalized iRBCs is attractive. Yet, in vitro iRBC production has been hampered by an inability of these cells to differentiate into terminally-mature, enucleated, beta globin-expressing RBCs. Here, we describe updated strategies to improve in vitro production of iRBCs. hiPSCs from sickle cell patients as well as those with normal hemoglobin were differentiated into hematopoietic stem progenitor cells (HSPCs) and immortalized via the overexpression of a previously characterized set of transcription factors promoting self-renewal and multipotency under the control of a doxycycline-regulated promoter. Utilizing an in vitro protocol incorporating increasing concentrations of human plasma, HSPCs differentiated from these lines proceed through terminal erythroid differentiation, including the formation of CD71-/GlyA+/α4 integrin-/Band 3+ cells. Plasma-stimulated iRBCs achieved robust enucleation (11-60.7%) and underwent fetal to adult globin-switching. Further, nearly 21% of the enucleated iRBCs were RNA negative erythrocytes 5-8 microns in diameter. RNA sequencing analysis reveals similar transcriptional profiles between iRBCs and peripheral blood CD34+- derived cultured RBCs (cRBCs) yet distinct differences between SCD and WT iRBCs. SCA iRBCs have increased extracellular matrix organization, cell-cell adhesive properties and up-regulation of hypoxia-response genes. Heme metabolism, DNA repair, fatty acid metabolism and oxidative phosphorylation are all impaired in SCD iRBCs. Assessment of cell physiology exposes membrane damage in SCD iRBCs with increased phalloidin permeability in comparison to wild type controls. Intriguingly, SCD iRBCs co-expressing gamma and beta-globin also demonstrate sickling under hypoxic conditions. With the development of expandable source of erythroid progenitors capable of producing mature red cells, we now aim to utilize this platform for robust disease modeling and autologous cell therapy.

    https://ashpublications.org/blood/article/132/Supplement%201/2359/264142/Optimized-Beta-Globin-Expression-and-Enucleation

    Presentation by Ashlee Conway (2020)
    ISSCR 2020
    ENGINEERING ADULT RED BLOOD CELLS FROM HUMAN IPSCS THAT SICKLE IN VITRO: A NOVEL THERAPEUTIC PLATFORM FOR SICKLE CELL ANEMIA
    Ashlee Conway
    Abstract: Human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) are an invaluable resource in tissue and blood cell engineering due to their multi-lineage potential in culture systems. iPSC-derived hematopoietic progenitors that undergo successful erythropoiesis would allow for the in vitro modeling of inheritable red blood cell (RBC) diseases, such as Sickle Cell Anemia (SCA), for novel therapeutic design and pre-clinical testing. Here, we describe an optimized method of generating induced RBCs (iRBCs) in vitro from healthy and sickle cell homozygous iPSCs, created from patient leukocytes. Using a human plasma-supplemented erythroid differentiation media (EDM), our iRBCs mature in vitro into GlyA+CD71- cells which successfully enucleate at a high rate (>80%). mRNA profiles demonstrate iRBCs undergo three distinct waves of globin activation and suppression throughout erythroid development, which closely mimics the in vivo globin-switching profile modeled from humans. Furthermore, these iRBCs become robust adult 𝛃-globin expressing cells, which is confirmed at the protein level. Using hypoxic culture incubation, 𝛃-globin expression in WT iRBCs is increased 4-fold, however, cells harboring the (HBB)E6V mutation respond poorly to hypoxic stress. Sickling is readily observable in mutant iRBCs, regardless of oxygen conditions, along with other morphological abnormalities characteristic of SCA (microcytosis, hypochromasia, cell-cell adhesion, fragmentation etc). RNA-seq analysis was performed on iRBCs to compare WT and SCA transcriptional profiles, in order to identify novel disease phenotypes; a practice that could help drive patient-specific therapies. Importantly, this erythroid differentiation protocol has been optimized to be xeno-free with the successful replacement of BSA with an inorganic alternative, PVA. Together, this study demonstrates that enucleated, hemoglobinized iRBCs can be engineered from other somatic cell sources by passing through the iPSC state. Obtaining terminal maturity in these iRBCs using this optimized protocol allows for modeling of human blood diseases with visually recognizable phenotypes. Future cellular products generated using a xeno-free EDM therefore have the capacity for live human testing as an autologous source of transfusable blood products.

    https://www.eventscribe.com/2020/ISSCR/agenda.asp?pfp=FullSchedule

    Liked by 1 person

  18. How did Tolulope leave the lab? If she left on her own accord, or their was some friction with her mentor, that may have earned her a lesser spot on the list of authors in the future. It seems like a number of PI’s that I have worked for take it personally when someone leaves the lab, and then if the work is incomplete they get “screwed” by getting a lesser authorship than they deserve. What I find remarkable is that most advisors don’t seem to understand how crappy of a job it is to do research in academia as a grad student and post-doc (even if you are lucky enough to have a fantastic advisor), so leaving makes good sense. Instead, the advisor thinks it should be an honor for the underling to work for him/her, and when the underling leaves, the the ego is bruised, and some retalliate by hurting the underlings career. Let professionalism and fairness on the part of faculty (again).

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  19. nomorescienceethics

    I am so sorry for your experience. God will punish them don’t worry. There are some big idiots present in academics and they act like gentle men. I have this kind of shitty experience with a noble laureate. Some people are grown as no more human beings, they are beasts. They are a big shit!!!!!

    Move away and start a new life.

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  20. In my story they also claimed for psychiatric assessment, but not that direct way — https://jwapatoo.blogspot.com/2016/12/recollection-of-phrases-i-wanted-to-say.html — but I felt quite impressed. It was disgusting.
    see Jwapatoo vs Luis Serrano and his miss-stress at CRG:
    http://jwapatoo.blogspot.com/

    Yet I don’t understand why this guy wants to stay anonymous, my full name is easily recoverable from the docs I append.
    Anonymous standing up makes no sense, it looks just like a gossip, story-telling.
    On this background the example of Gustavo German is more convincing.

    Yes, you loose academic career, but you can trade your qualification and experience, or even if it’s just a bare labor force — you can survive staying honest and with no compliance to leaking asses this way or another.
    Please don’t be pathetic.

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