Research integrity Smut Clyde

Niyaz Ahmad’s technician did it

"it makes more sense when you have consumed twice the recommended dose of San Pedro cactus and spent four hours staring at paisley wallpaper, or so I hear from a friend." - Smut Clyde.

I always think that the chances of finding out what really is going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say hang the sense of it and just keep yourself occupied. Look at me: I design coastlines. I got an award for Norway.

Slartibartfast, in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

The real-life, in this case the ridiculously cack-handed counterfeit version of the fjord designer Slartibartfast is a certain Dr Niyaz Ahmad, an Indian from Lucknow who made it to assistant professorship in Saudi Arabia. He achieved this by publishing a copious number of fraudulent papers, on the topic of, what else, biomedical nanotechnology. That being a field where anything goes and everyone does it, Ahmad had to somehow stand out. So he drew Norwegian fjords by hand and claimed those to be FTIR spectra. It all passed the so-called peer review, although one should be careful with suspecting any peer review processes at the Taylor & Francis fraud factory Artificial Cells Nanomedicine & Biotechnology. But then again, even Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) is honoured to publish Ahmad’s works, one of which ( Nr 14 below) recently got corrected, due to “errors”. Because, if caught, Dr Ahmad will reliably blame an imaginary “technician”, and the trust in his nanofabrications is immediately restored.

Now, Smut Clyde will guide you through Dr Ahmad’s career of pathetic hand-made nano-fraud.

Best researcher, twice! See full CV here.

Fractal fern fronds at Norwegian coastline trigger paisley-wallpaper flashbacks

By Smut Clyde

Welcome to the research innovations of Niyaz Ahmad from the College of Clinical Pharmacy (Departments of Pharmaceutics and of Pharmaceutical Chemistry), Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Dammam, Saudi Arabia. They come under the general rubric of ‘drug delivery’ – an interdisciplinary, intersectional topic where there is room for nano-fabrications and faked electron microscopy, and for the usual biomed forgeries (see, for instance, the S. P. Vyas story). Dr Ahmad’s oeuvre is growing rapidly with four fake papers already this year, but it’s not large, and there is no broader lesson to be drawn from it; nor are there papermills, high-profile cancer cures or misbehaving Nobel laureates. But there is unexpected beauty, for Ahmad is taking data fabrication to the next level. And given the contempt displayed by the Saudi ruling family towards criticism from the rest of the world, I feel safe in point and laughing at his impostures without worrying about impact on his employment in Dammam.

One of these profiles is not like the others. This is Figure 3 from Ahmad et al (2020c) [22], “Different FT–IR spectra with an ATR attachment of BUD, PLGA, PVA, chitosan, physical mixture, and freeze-dried CS-coated-BUD–PLGA–NPs”, and it is where I first encountered Ahmad’s work. One of the spectra appears to be a Medieval map of the fjords of the Norwegian coastline.

The lowermost spectrum is BUD, plain Budesonide in the absence of nanoparticles to facilitate its delivery to the lungs, and it does not seem to have been plotted with the same equipment used for the NPs or their precursors. This record FT-IRs cannot be played plotted on old tin boxes no matter what they are fitted with. If you are in possession of such equipment please hand it into the nearest police station. The first author did offer an explanation to critics in the PubPeer thread, though whether it is satisfactory is another question.

#5 Niyaz Ahmad commented 2 months ago
Author Response

Other than the palsied quavery overhanging nature of the curve, the lack of any strong link between the wavenumbers labeling the fjords and the horizontal axis remains to be explained.

Similar questions arise from “Characterization of Daunorubicin (DAUN), PLGA, Chitosan and CS–DAUN–PLGA–NPs”, Fig 3 of Ahmad et al (2019e) [18], where Daurorubicin (DAUN) becomes the drug that induced such tremor in the FT-IR plotter.

The two uppermost spectra differ only in three short wavenumber ranges where (CS)–coated–DAUN–PLGA–poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid)–NPs display an absorption dip absent from plain Chitosan.

Now some inspirations can most charitably be described as seeming like a good idea at the time. That is how I classify ‘Iterated Function Systems’ (IFSs) as an algorithm for high-ratio lossless data compression. Here you divide the image to be compressed into overlapping segments that each look like a smaller, distorted version of the image as a whole, so all you need to store or transmit is a list of these distortion / compression self-mappings, which will be enough for the recipient to reconstruct the original image to any desired degree of accuracy.

If you believe the fanboys who wrote the Wiki entry, IFS compression never took off and Michael Barnsley’s Iterated Systems company never repaid its investors because the dropping price of data storage and transmission took away the economic rationale. If you believe me, it was because the whole scheme was complete bobbins and the likelihood of finding a loophole in Shannon’s Information theory is the same as the chance of evading the limits of relativity or thermodynamics or Heisenberg’s Uncertainty inequality, i.e. zero.

But to be fair, the scheme did work well for compressing images of fern fronds, where each little frondlet and sub-frondlet looks rather like a scaled-down rotated version of the whole frond. Also it makes more sense when you have consumed twice the recommended dose of San Pedro cactus and spent four hours staring at paisley wallpaper, or so I hear from a friend.

What brought these incontinent memories flooding back from the late-1980s (the golden age of fractals and Mandelbrot sets) was Ahmad’s venture into Fractal Flow Cytometry, in Figure 7 of Ahmad et al (2020b) [21].

Panels (B) and (C) are composed of smaller, rotated sections of one another – they are pre-compressed. They’re not quite fern fronds but they are triggering the paisley-wallpaper flashbacks. Ahmad again made an appearance in the PubPeer thread marvelling at this self-similarity, defending the integrity of Figure 7… or perhaps admitting it to be unreliable… but anyway, disclaiming responsibility for it.

#2 Niyaz Ahmad commented 2 months ago
 

As it happens, that recent paper (still in-press at the time of writing) provides a thread leading back to earlier in Ahmad’s career, to Ahmad et al (2016b) [4]. Do these Transmission-Electron-Microscope images depict a pair or triad of rutin-encapsulating Chitosan nanoparticles, or CS-coated-CH-loaded-PLGA-NPs, with two sets of diametric measurements, neither matching the scale bar?

Following the trail from [4] leads into the deep end of this corpus of work. Let’s start slowly, and come back to [4] later. These artist’s impressions of falling snow or the night sky within a globular cluster are in fact TEM images of a nanoemulsion of Amiloride, prepared with an ultrasonication technique, to be “used for intranasal delivery in the treatment of epilepsy”: Figs 4B and 6D of Ahmad et al, (2018b) [9].

Unless, of course, they represent nanoemulsions of eugenol, “formulated by high pressure homogenization (HPH) and also high energy ultrasonication technique” as in Figures 3A and B respectively of Ahmad et al (2018c) [10], for “the treatment of wounds healings and anti-inflammatory”. More specifically, a high-pressure-homogenised mixture of “Eugenol (EUG), Tween-80 and Labrasol”.

A third potential identification, at least for the left-hand image, is as eugenol again, this time as the oil phase in a spontaneously-emulifying gel also involving “Tween-80 (surfactant), and PEG-400 (co-surfactant)”. For “treatment in inflammation and periodontitis”. Ahmad et al (2019d) [17] provides this Figure 4D:

We are not quite finished with the anti-inflammatory wound-healing properties of eugenol. Figure 8 from [10] again is this triptych of sections of “(A) untreated rat skin (control) (B) 0.8% v/v formalin solution [standard irritant], and (C) EUG-loaded NE nanoformulation treated rat skin”.

Which is all very well except for the rats… until zooming in on (C) reveals it to be a brick wall, where the individual bricks are details from (A).

More curiously still, that brickwork is framed within the right-hand panel of another triptych, Fig 10C from Ahmad et al (2019a) [14]: an image of post-injury rat skin, regenerating without assistance except antibiotic treatment.

Still on this topic of rat scarification, please excuse the distressing pair of skin-wound montages that follow. Both compare the healing quality of curcumin nano-emulsions against other treatments: Fig 7 from [14] at left, Fig 7 from Ahmad et al (2019b) [15] at right. The first, third and fifth rows show identical injuries, which is not unreasonable if both papers emerged from a single salami-sliced study and use the same controls… but what are we to make of frames ascribed to clove oil and to eucalypus oil treatment?

This segue to ultrasonified or self-emulsifying curcumin gels was not gratuitous. All conjuring tricks and feats of legerdemain require a slow build-up before the prestige, and that was the first step. In the next step, Fig 10 from [15] is a compilation of H&E-stained slices of scar tissue… the luscious shade of blue-violet is not quite International Klein Blue, so we can pirate the images without risking a copyright claim from the estate of Yves Klein.

Enlarge A and B. Rotate them through 90° and reverse the colors.

Presto, blue-violet stain becomes yellow fluorescence, in the upper- and lower-right panels of Fig 12 of Ahmad et al (2020a) [20]: “Different type of formulations labelled with hydrophilic fluorescence probe (6-carboxyfluorescein) to mark the penetration of the 5-FU to deep skin strata.”

It is not quite a rabbit from a hat, but producing “cow- and goat-ear pinna skin and rat skin treated with the formulation 5-FU-S (A) 5-FU-NE (B) 5-FU-NE-Gel (C)” is still a trick worthy of admiration and applause. For my next trick I will make an electro-spun collagen-nanofibre purse out of a sow’s pinna. You do not need actual experimental results to publish made-up stories in academic journal if you are willing to transform and manipulate earlier data into something new, and Niyaz Ahmad could teach master-classes on those transformations.

I like to think of the next series of TEM nanoparticulate images as “Bubble Congeries”, borrowing a term from Fritz Leiber. Who borrowed it from H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos, where the multidimensional, inchoate, incomprehensible entity known as Yog-Sototh sometimes manifests to mere human apprehension as a “congeries of iridescent globes” and a “rather large congeries of iridescent, prolately spheroidal bubbles”. Lovecraft may in turn have borrowed the words from his more poetic friend Clark Ashton Smith, but I digress.

At left the bubbles are Fig. 6, “SNEDDS with a [Quercetin] of optimized Qur-SNEDDS”, from Ahmad et al (2017b) [6] – self-nanoemulsified for greater bioavailability in oral treatment of cerebral ischaemia. The metadata on the TEM image includes the curious date “17/17/2015”. For further perplexity, the color-boxed details of the image had already appeared in 2014, as Figs 1(D-F) from Ahmad et al (2014) [2], where they were identified as three different formulations: (D) PNIPAM-CUR, (E) PNIPAM-DMC and (F) PNIPAM-BDMC. Forged TEM metadata is the least of the concerns here.

For completeness, I note the overlap between these congeries and Fig 1D from Ahmad et al (2018d) [11], “… transmission electron microscopy (TEM) (D) images of quercetin mucoadhesive nanoemulsion.” Again for treatment of cerebral ischaemia, this time optimised for nasal administration.

We will come back to [11], and also to [2]. Dr Ahmad did comment on the PubPeer thread for [2], but only in response to earlier concerns about histo-stained tissue microphotography, and I can only assume that “blame it on the technician” applies to the later electron-microscopy questions as well.

#6 Niyaz Ahmad commented 2 months ago
Author Response

Keeping to the Bubbles Congeries theme, these TEM images are Figure 2B, “DTX-loaded-CS-coated-PLGA-NPs” from Ahmad et al (2018e) [12], delivering a chemotherapy payload to intestinal cancer; and Fig 4 “optimized Thymoquinone Mucoadhesive Nanoemulsion” for treating cerebral ischaemia, from Ahmad et al (2016a) [3]. One or other set of TEM metadata is fake. Or both.

But that’s not all! The cluster is also Fig 10(d) of Ahmad et al (2017a) [5] where they have different diametric measurements and fill the role of chitosan-encapsulated curcumin…

While an enlarged detail of the cluster acquired new metadata and new bubble diameters to become Fig 2D from Ahmad et al (2018f) [13], where they are CS-IRN-PLGA-NPs: formed from poly-lactic-co-glycolic acid, coated with Chitosan and carrying a cargo of Irinotecan.

That should be enough, but it isn’t, and the first appearance of the cluster was a detail of that enlarged detail. Below at right, Fig 7(a) from Warsi et al (2012) [1]: “moxifloxacin loaded nanoplexes (moxi-NPX) as vehicles for ocular drug delivery”. Whoever came up with “moxifloxacin” as a name for a drug was being paid a bonus for every “x”.

[H/t Diploon Cuspidatum]

Earlier I rushed past the other trails radiating out from [5]. Fig 10 contains other panels for other curcuminoids within the same delivery vehicle, and it offers Scanning Electron Microscopy as well — to the right in this image. For comparison, though published earlier, SEM images in the left-hand column show the PNIPAM formulations from Fig 1 of [2].

The alert reader will notice that 1A and 1C, with curcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin (BDMC), are excerpts from a single larger scene so their corners overlap (red boxes). Figs 1B and 10(c), PNIPAM-demethoxycurcumin and chitosan-BDMC NPs, are also the same (blue boxes).

Before moving on from [5] and leaving behind the excitement of curcuminoids, Fig 12 deserves our attention. It is more versatile than one might expect from a triptych of pickled, H&E-stained brain sections. For a comparison between Fig 12(a) (next diagram, above) and Fig 10A from [4] (below) reveals an area in common: not a rectangle of overlapping corners, but shaped more like one wing of a saloon door, for there are additional manipulations. Large sections of 10B are also duplicated. [4], you will recall, addressed the delivery of rutin to treat cerebral thromboses and infarctions (in rats)… I promised to come back to [4] and I was not lying.

The other half of 12(a) was not wasted. It links [5] to Ahmad et al (2019c) [7], where the drug of choice for cerebral ischaemia changed to safranal (saffron spice). The next diagram’s comparison of Fig 12 (below) with (above) Fig 7A reveals another area of overlap, shaped like the other side of the saloon door.

Evidently safranal and rutin are closely related, and the same salami slices of whole rat brains serve to illustrate the neuroprotective effects of both (with a little help from photoshop). Here, Figs 8 from [7] and 9(C) from [4]:

Two messages are emerging here. First, the Safranal paper occupies a central position within the Ahmad oeuvre. Second, the range of available treatments for cerebral thrombosis in rats appears large at first glance but then narrows rapidly when one pays close attention to the details. Here, Figs 1 from [7] and 2 from [11]: confocal laser scanning microscopy, distinguishing non-mucoadhesive from mucoadhesive nanoemulsion gels. Formulated from safranal or quercetin? Does it matter?

A sequence of protoplasmic iridescent globes paisley wallpaper swirls illustrate the nasal mucosa of rats who snorted nanoemulsion gels. At left, Fig 9 from [7] (original, and contrast-enhanced for clarity). Also Fig 3 from Ahmad et al (2018a) [8] at upper right, with eugenol as the nanoparticle payload; and Fig 9 from Ahmad et al (2019c) [16] at lower right, with glycyrrhizic acid (liquorice squeezings). Red, brown, green and yellow boxes single out results which were reused in the interests of economy.

Pictorial ingenuity on this scale has provided Dr Ahmad with a meteoric career, boosting his research productivity relative to any peers who waste time and resources, actually formulating drug vehicles and collecting data on their properties. For [1] he was a minor author, with a position at the Department of Pharmaceutics, Faculty of Pharmacy, Hamdard University, New Delhi. Eight years later he is ensconced in the Saudi higher-education system, with students of his own to mentor with his experience in research methods and ethics.

There remains one sequence of image metamorphoses, spanning this career from 2014 to a very recent paper. Specifically, the following papers are involved: [2] (PNIPAMs again); [7] (Safranal again); Ahmad et al (2019f) [19] (another form of liquorice squeezings); and Ahmad et al (2020d) [23]. There are cross-sections of rodent brains and nasal mucosa, extreme color transformations, and quilts or wallpaper decoration in Photoshop, but no paisley.

Beginning with [2], Figure 10 there consists of “Representative photomicrographs showing the TS of rats’ brain (A, B, C and D) and nasal mucosa (E, F, G and H) for normal control, PNIPAM-NPs (placebo), CUR-PNIPAM, DMC-PNIPAM and BDMC-PNIPAM-treated groups, respectively after 14 days.” The regions of cortex in A-D are unspecified. With only four rows in the Figure — A to D, E to G — and five treatment groups itemised, it was not clear which group goes with which image.

#5 Niyaz Ahmad commented 2 months ago
Author Response
 

Here the contrast of 10A is slightly enhanced for greater visibility of the repeated textures comprising the right-hand third. Versions of the same section feature in [19] as Fig 10(d) and in [23] as Fig 11B, with different wallpaper enhancements and the color palette transformed. These palettes — hot pink, intense blue, saturated red — hint at the use of specific cytological stains, though these remain unidentified.

#4 Niyaz Ahmad commented 2 months ago
 
 

A similar parallelism exists between Figs 10(e) from [19] and 11C from [23], though with no counterpart in [2].

As well as Fig 10(d), have 10(e) and (f) felt the improving touch of Photoshop? This is a rhetorical question and a positive response is allowed.

Fig 10(f) turns out to link back to the author’s “pink phase” in [2], and to that paper’s Fig 10B.

Two more versions of this particular section appear as Figs 9A, C from [7], drawing that paper into the sequence, where 9C is distinguished by the patchwork quilt improvements around the edges.

These improvements become evident after color-reversing 9C and superimposing it on 9A so that the two versions cancel out except where they differ.

Now we can return to [2]. Close inspection reveals overlaps and duplications within the nasal-mucosal images, Fig 10H being a composite of fragments from 10E, G.

10E,G are also the raw material for Figs 10(b, c) from [19], “CS-PCL-NPs (placebo), CS-GA-PCL-NPs treated groups”.

To recapitulate the highpoints of all this:

  • Extreme color transformations and even inversions.
  • FT-IR fjords.
  • Fractal flow cytometry.
  • The technician did it.

One of these is not really an innovation.

[23] is as good as any other place to finish. Figure 8 reports “Effect of CS-GA-PCL-NPs (10 mg/kg) administration on haematoxylin and eosin staining in the brain sections of the SHAM, MCAO, and CS-GA-PCL-NPs + MCAO groups. (a) Cortical area of SHAM group animal showed uniform distribution of neurons. Normal neurons with the characteristic conical outlines with no abnormal features are seen. (b) Tissues around infarcted area in the MCAO group show a focal area of vacuolation and neuronal loss. (c) CS-GA-PCL-NPs + MCAO group rats show partial neuronal loss.” The copy-pasted sections within (a) and (c) call out for explanation…

… As does the overlap between (a) and (c).

Thank you for listening to my eccentric and relentlessly inaccurate monograph TED talk.

Sources:

  1. UPLC/Q-TOF-MS/MS method for evaluation of moxifloxacin loaded nanoplexes as vehicles for ocular drug delivery” Musarrat H. Warsi, Gaurav K. Jain, Shadab A. Pathan, Mohammed Anwar, Neha Mallick, Niyaz Ahmad, Sushama Talegaonkar, Farhan J. Ahmad, Roop K. Khar (2012). Journal of Liquid Chromatography & Related Technologies doi: 10.1080/10826076.2011.627604 [PubPeer]
  2. PNIPAM nanoparticles for targeted and enhanced nose-to-brain delivery of curcuminoids: UPLC/ESI-Q-ToF-MS/MS-based pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamic evaluation in cerebral ischemia model” Niyaz Ahmad, Iqbal Ahmad, Sadiq Umar, Zeenat Iqbal, Mohd Samim, Farhan Jalees Ahmad (2014). Drug Delivery doi: 10.3109/10717544.2014.941076 [PubPeer]
  3. Quantification and evaluation of thymoquinone loaded mucoadhesive nanoemulsion for treatment of cerebral ischemia“, Niyaz Ahmad, Rizwan Ahmad, Md Aftab Alam, Mohd Samim, Zeenat Iqbal, Farhan Jalees Ahmad (2016a). International Journal of Biological Macromolecules doi: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2016.03.019 [PubPeer]
  4. Rutin-encapsulated chitosan nanoparticles targeted to the brain in the treatment of Cerebral Ischemia“, Niyaz Ahmad, Rizwan Ahmad, Atta Abbas Naqvi, Md Aftab Alam, Mohammad Ashafaq, Mohd Samim, Zeenat Iqbal, Farhan Jalees Ahmad (2016b). International Journal of Biological Macromolecules doi: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2016.06.001 [PubPeer]
  5. Isolation, characterization, and quantification of curcuminoids and their comparative effects in cerebral ischemia“, Niyaz Ahmad, Rizwan Ahmad, Atta Abbas Naqvi, Md Aftab Alam, Mohammad Ashafaq, Zeenat Iqbal, Farhan Jalees Ahmad (2017a). Journal of Liquid Chromatography & Related Technologies doi: 10.1080/10826076.2017.1293549 [PubPeer]
  6. Enhancement of Quercetin Oral Bioavailability by Self-Nanoemulsifying Drug Delivery System and their Quantification Through Ultra High Performance Liquid Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry in Cerebral Ischemia“, Niyaz Ahmad, Rizwan Ahmad, Atta Abbas Naqvi, Md Aftab Alam, Rehan Abdur Rub, Farhan Jalees Ahmad (2017b). Drug Research doi: 10.1055/s-0043-109564 [PubPeer]
  7. The effect of safranal loaded mucoadhesive nanoemulsion on oxidative stress markers in cerebral ischemia“, Niyaz Ahmad, Rizwan Ahmad, Atta Abbas Naqvi, Mohammad Ashafaq, Md Aftab Alam, Farhan Jalees Ahmad, Mastour Safer Al-Ghamdi (2017c). Artificial Cells Nanomedicine & Biotechnology doi: 10.1080/21691401.2016.1228659 [PubPeer]
  8. Quantification and Brain Targeting of Eugenol-Loaded Surface Modified Nanoparticles Through Intranasal Route in the Treatment of Cerebral Ischemia“, Niyaz Ahmad, Rizwan Ahmad, Md Aftab Alam, Farhan Jalees Ahmad (2018a). Drug Research doi: 10.1055/a-0596-7288 [PubPeer]
  9. Impact of ultrasonication techniques on the preparation of novel Amiloride-nanoemulsion used for intranasal delivery in the treatment of epilepsy“, Niyaz Ahmad, Rizwan Ahmad, Md Aftab Alam, Farhan Jalees Ahmad, Mohd Amir (2018b). Artificial Cells Nanomedicine & Biotechnology doi: 10.1080/21691401.2018.1489826 [PubPeer]
  10. Ultrasonication techniques used for the preparation of novel Eugenol-Nanoemulsion in the treatment of wounds healings and anti-inflammatory“, Niyaz Ahmad, Md Aftab Alam, Farhan Jalees Ahmad, Md Sarafroz, Khalid Ansari, Sonali Sharma, Mohd Amir (2018c). Journal of Drug Delivery Science & Technology doi: 10.1016/j.jddst.2018.06.003 [PubPeer]
  11. Intranasal delivery of quercetin-loaded mucoadhesive nanoemulsion for treatment of cerebral ischaemia“, Niyaz Ahmad, Rizwan Ahmad, Atta Abbas Naqvi, Md Aftab Alam, Mohammad Ashafaq, Rehan Abdur Rub, Farhan Jalees Ahmad (2018d). Artificial Cells Nanomedicine & Biotechnology doi: 10.1080/21691401.2017.1337024 [PubPeer]
  12. Preparation and characterization of surface-modified PLGA-polymeric nanoparticles used to target treatment of intestinal cancer“, Niyaz Ahmad, Md Aftab Alam, Rizwan Ahmad, Atta Abbas Naqvi, Farhan Jalees Ahmad (2018e). Artificial Cells Nanomedicine & Biotechnology doi: 10.1080/21691401.2017.1324466 [PubPeer]
  13. Improvement of oral efficacy of Irinotecan through biodegradable polymeric nanoparticles through in vitro and in vivo investigations“, Niyaz Ahmad, Md Aftab Alam, Rizwan Ahmad, Sadiq Umar, Farhan Jalees Ahmad (2018f). Journal of Microencapsulation doi: 10.1080/02652048.2018.1485755 [PubPeer]
  14. Preparation of a novel curcumin nanoemulsion by ultrasonication and its comparative effects in wound healing and the treatment of inflammation“, Niyaz Ahmad, Rizwan Ahmad, Ali Al-Qudaihi, Salman Edrees Alaseel, Ibrahim Zuhair Fita, Mohammed Saifuddin Khalid, Faheem Hyder Pottoo (2019a). RSC Advances doi: 10.1039/c9ra03102b [PubPeer]
  15. A novel self-nanoemulsifying drug delivery system for curcumin used in the treatment of wound healing and inflammation“, Niyaz Ahmad, Rizwan Ahmad, Ali Al-Qudaihi, Salman Edrees Alaseel, Ibrahim Zuhair Fita, Mohammed Saifuddin Khalid, Faheem Hyder Pottoo, Srinivasa Rao Bolla (2019b). 3 Biotech doi: 10.1007/s13205-019-1885-3 [PubPeer]
  16. Quantification and Evaluation of Glycyrrhizic Acid-loaded Surface Decorated Nanoparticles by UHPLC-MS/MS and used in the Treatment of Cerebral Ischemia“, Niyaz Ahmad, Rizwan Ahmad, Md Aftab Alam, Farhan Jalees Ahmad, Rehan Abdur Rub (2019c). Current Pharmaceutical Analysis doi: 10.2174/1573412914666180530073613 [PubPeer]
  17. A novel Nanoformulation Development of Eugenol and their treatment in inflammation and periodontitis“, Niyaz Ahmad, Farhan Jalees Ahmad, Sumit Bedi, Sonali Sharma, Sadiq Umar, Mohammad Azam Ansari (2019d). Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal doi: 10.1016/j.jsps.2019.04.014 [PubPeer]
  18. Daunorubicin oral bioavailability enhancement by surface coated natural biodegradable macromolecule chitosan based polymeric nanoparticles“, Niyaz Ahmad, Rizwan Ahmad, Md Aftab Alam, Farhan Jalees Ahmad, Mohd Amir, Faheem Hyder Pottoo, Md Sarafroz, Mohammed Jafar, Khalid Umar (2019e). International Journal of Biological Macromolecules doi: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2019.01.142 [PubPeer]
  19. Brain-targeted glycyrrhizic-acid-loaded surface decorated nanoparticles for treatment of cerebral ischaemia and its toxicity assessment“, Niyaz Ahmad, Abeer M. Al-Subaie, Rizwan Ahmad, Sonali Sharma, Md Aftab Alam, Mohammad Ashafaq, Rehan Abdur Rub, Farhan Jalees Ahmad (2019f). Artificial Cells Nanomedicine & Biotechnology doi: 10.1080/21691401.2018.1561458 [PubPeer]
  20. A comparative ex vivo permeation evaluation of a novel 5-Fluorocuracil nanoemulsion-gel by topically applied in the different excised rat, goat, and cow skin“, Niyaz Ahmad, Rizwan Ahmad, Taysser Mohammed Buheazaha, Hussain Salman AlHomoud, Hassan Ali Al-Nasif, Md Sarafroz (2020a). Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences doi: 10.1016/j.sjbs.2020.02.014 [PubPeer]
  21. A Chitosan-PLGA based catechin hydrate nanoparticles used in targeting of lungs and cancer treatment“, Niyaz Ahmad, Rizwan Ahmad, Ridha Abdullah Alrasheed, Hassan Mohammed Ali Almatar, Abdullah Sami Al-Ramadan, Taysser Mohammed Buheazah, Hussain Salman AlHomoud, Hassan Ali Al-Nasif, Md Aftab Alam (2020b). Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences doi: 10.1016/j.sjbs.2020.05.023 [PubPeer]
  22. A comparative pulmonary pharmacokinetic study of budesonide using polymeric nanoparticles targeted to the lungs in treatment of asthma“, Niyaz Ahmad, Rizwan Ahmad, Mortaja Zaki Almakhamel, Khalid Ansari, Mohd Amir, Wasim Ahmad, Abuzer Ali, Farhan Jalees Ahmad (2020c). Artificial Cells Nanomedicine & Biotechnology doi: 10.1080/21691401.2020.1748640 [PubPeer]
  23. [23]. “Poloxamer-chitosan-based Naringenin nanoformulation used in brain targeting for the treatment cerebral of ischemia“, Niyaz Ahmad, Rizwan Ahmad, Farhan Jalees Ahmad, Wasim Ahmad, Md Aftab Alam, Mohd Amir, Abuzer Ali (2020d). Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences doi: 10.1016/j.sjbs.2019.11.008 [PubPeer]

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17 comments on “Niyaz Ahmad’s technician did it

  1. It is nice to see that diversity and inclusion are taken into account when topics of this blog are selected, to document that fraud is universal.

    Like

  2. Saudis should have hired “a technician,” who is clearly the brains of the outfit.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I would never confess to fraud if I was in Saudi Arabia, for the chance that I am likely to be be flogged by a former member of ISIS! Those guys mean business, compared to the wimpy NIH/USA hand slap. No wonder he is deflecting blame.

    Like

  4. Wow, I am still learning on misconduct and on what journals can publish. I would have never imagined something like the budesonide IR specturm could pass review. I am imagining some guy drawing the spectrum by hand with the computer mouse and thinking “that should make it”, even with four values of transmittance at a given wavenumber. And indeed even with 2 or 3 reviewers and an editor, it has made it so far.

    Like

    • I don’t think reviewers and editors exist at these journals. Perhaps a typesetter and somebody to cash the checks. And of course when it comes to complaints and retractions, nobody’s home.

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      • problems start to escalate when such people with fellowships come to Western countries and continue bullshitting further on.

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      • It is indeed very difficult to anticipate whether something will happen. That terrible budesonide IR spectrum was published in Artificial Cells, Nanomedicine, and Biotechnology, like several other papers by that author. The following statement can be read on the journal webpage: “Taylor & Francis was made aware of potential issues surrounding the scientific integrity of a number of articles published in Artificial Cells, Nanomedicine and Biotechnology. In accordance with COPE guidance, we have been conducting an investigation into these concerns as quickly and diligently as possible. We have now reached out to all the authors of the affected articles to obtain additional data and other information that will inform our investigation. We will continue to provide updates on our ongoing investigation when possible.” Moreover, the interim EiC is Jigisha Patel, Independent Research Integrity Consultant with affiliation to COPE. Is it enough to hope that something will happen?

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  5. <>
    So it’s OK if fraudulent research flourishes in ‘those other countries over there’ as long as ‘Western’ science is not contaminated? While it is true that countries somewhat new to the basic research enterprise still need to develop robust standards, this blog is sufficient evidence that bullshit thrives in the West unaided.

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    • The above comment is a response to @Donlad’s post, not to the main article.

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    • I don’t see how India can be classed among “countries somewhat new to the basic research enterprise.”

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      • (1) The reference was to Saudi Arabia where Ahmed is currently employed.

        (2) Barring a few institutes that aspire to high standards, Indian science is a corrupt mess. No argument.

        (3) However, the impact or even potential impact of basic science produced in India is near-zero. [Poor manufacturing standards etc. are a different, separate tale of malfeasance – not basic, academic research].

        (4) By any measure, India remains among “countries somewhat new to the basic research enterprise”, especially in the biomedical sciences. The emphasis being on “somewhat”. The Royal Society was established in 1660. India became Independent exactly 73 years ago, on August 15th, 1947. It takes lot longer than that to build robust institutions.

        (5) India lags far, far behind in most things that require infrastructure (electricity, reliable water, cold rooms – name it!) – you can’t even print papers or photocopy routinely (let them use iPads, you say?!). Don’t let flashy efforts with defense implications like the Mars probe, etc., fool you. Such fields are a security imperative in a rough neighborhood. Academic science, in the western sense, is still far from established, very much in a prolonged infancy.

        (6) Most “colleges”, “universities”, and “institutes” in India that feature in these pages are not even at the level of a community college in the United States in terms of their intellectual environment & “research” facilities. Teasing out such details and the problems that stem from the organization of Indian science will require a lot more space than I have here.

        (7) Scientific fraud in the West is not primarily driven by “people with fellowships”. Perverse incentives, celebrity science, lax penalties, oversized labs, the prospect of commercial financial gain all contribute, as does hubris. It is rank corruption with slick production values. Let’s not forget, Voinnet or Macchiarini, even as they held many a fellowship, do not fall under the rubric of “such people with a fellowship” in the pejorative sense implied above.

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      • To clarify: Ahmed has been employed in Saudi Arabia since 2013. Of the 23 papers discussed in the post, 22 were published after 2014, and one in 2012, from India. So, the onus of an investigation and censure falls on the Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Saudi Arabia, which definitely is one among “countries somewhat new to the basic research enterprise.”

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  6. Pakistan is just the same. Try to contact authors in a Pakistani paper. It is impossible to track authors, especially if they permute their names to establish new aliases for every new employment, to get new scholarship benefits, or hide themselves when things go wrong.

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    • I do not know about Pakistan, but in India, there is now a nationwide identity system that makes it difficult to fake aliases for any purpose involving the government, including fellowships. It is far easier to procure paper-mill theses especially for degrees from marginal, provincial institutions that grant degrees but do not have adequate research facilities. The research is done elsewhere, with lax supervision.

      Aliases for journal submissions are possible since most institutions do not maintain email networks with institutional IDs – too expensive. I think it’s time to encourage countries sponsoring basic research to set up an NIH eRA Commons like system with unique identifiers.

      Anyway, penalties for fraudulent science are one thing, but I wouldn’t want this fellow beheaded in SA, so it’s come time for me to stop.

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