Research integrity Uncategorized

“NONE of the work HAS NOT BEEN DONE in my lab”

"you can make a mistake once, but twice hmmmm I'd like to have my name removed from the potential revised version of this manuscript", - Prof Guillemin.

Some scientists are so pathetically vain that they use sockpuppets to create Wikipedia pages celebrating their scientific achievements. In reality, these eminent scholars’ names and research works are utterly unknown to anybody even in their own research area. I.e., outside of their small circle of collaborators, a publishing ring where everyone gets to be co-author so everyone’s publication record and h-index inflate.

By publishing fraudulent trash in this case. It seems, the neuroscientist Gilles Guillemin (h-index 62), an obscure France-born professor at the obscure Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, fell victim to his own vanity, one paper was already retracted, and maybe more will come, who knows. Sometimes those authorship-ring schemes, set up to translate “research” papers into literal cash into personal pockets, can backfire.

Guillemin’s Wikipedia page is as credible as the figures in his papers.

It mentions that Professor Guillemin “has had work published in various scientific journals including New England Journal of Medicine[25] and Nature.[26][27]” and that he found the cause and therapeutic approach for “multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and motor neuron disease” and discovered “the first blood biomarker” for Multiple Sclerosis. Now wonder Professor Guillemin is so highly decorated:

  • 2021, June: Awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for “For significant service to science education, to Motor Neurone Disease research, and to sport”.[36][37]
  • 2020, March: Awarded a Fellowship of The Royal Society of New South Wales.[38][39]
  • 2019, November: Awarded “Chevalier (Knight) de l’Ordre du Mérite” by the French government in recognition of his work in medical research[40]
  • 2017: Finalist for the Eureka prize (best Australian Medical discovery of the year)[41]
  • 2012: Made a member of the Century Club at UNSW recognising his 100th publication achievement[42]

And then of course we are informed that

“Guillemin’s hobbies include fishing and handball. The latter of which he competed in at an elite level, leading to the World Championship in Tunisia in 2005.”

But the Chevalier’s Wikipedia profile (set up in August 2020 by a rather unconvincing account, itself created in July 2020) is incomplete without the PubPeer-listed achievements which may have been the main reason why the Wiki page was created to celebrate Guillemin’s scientific genius in the first place. Let us begin, with a paper where our hero found a cure for Parkinson’s:

Sathiya Sekar , Sugumar Mani , Barathidasan Rajamani , Thamilarasan Manivasagam , Arokiasamy Justin Thenmozhi , Abid Bhat , Bipul Ray , Musthafa Mohamed Essa , Gilles J. Guillemin, Saravana Babu Chidambaram Telmisartan Ameliorates Astroglial and Dopaminergic Functions in a Mouse Model of Chronic Parkinsonism Neurotoxicity Research (2018) doi: 10.1007/s12640-018-9921-3 

Elisabeth Bik flagged this in September 2019:

Bik: “Figure 1. Panel E (SNpc brain region /TEL (10 mg/kg)) and J (ST brain region / MPTP+ PN + TEL (10 mg/kg)) appear to share a possible region of overlap” and “Figure 2. Panel A5 (TEL (10 mg/kg)) and A6 (PN + TEL (10 mg/kg)) appear to show an area of overlap” and “Figure 5. Panel A1 (normal control) and A5 (TEL (10 mg/kg)) appear to show an area of overlap.

(left) and (above)

Guillemin commented immediately:

This is an issue, indeed… Thank you for reporting this Elisabeth. I have contacted straight away the senior author Dr Babu, to investigate this with the scholar who performed this work (1st author).

I have been only be advising on the structure of the project and the manuscript, not the lab & data management. I miss these discrepancies, which I hope are just a copy/paste mix up of the figures.

Regards Prof Guillemin

You may note that our hero addresses Dr Bik as “Elisabeth” while expecting her to address him as “Prof Guillemin” in return. He continued the PubPeer conversation in that patronising style (btw, “Prof Guillemin” is one year younger than “Elisabeth”). At least the Chevalier (Knight) doesn’t expect Dr Bik to call him Sir, as his lab members apparently do.

Also Saravana Babu Chidambaram of JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research in Karnataka, India, and Musthafa Mohamed Essa of Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat, Oman, replied to “Elisabeth”, at least they signed informally. The former blamed the first author, who allegedly “was in hurry to submit the manuscript to complete her PhD n go for postdoc” and added “This is purely copy n paste error n nothing is intentional“. Essa blamed that same student as well and joined Prof Guillemin in assertion that also he contributed basically nothing to that paper:

As a collaborator, I do all the time offering support for the structure of the project and editing / revising the manuscript, not the data or laboratory works.

On 15 December 2019, the authors issued a correction (which is not visible at the main article page):

“Authors have identified inadvertent overlap of images in Figs.1, 2, and 5 of the article original version. The same are corrected and erratum is submitted. However, the results and conclusion on the findings remain the same.”

But then Cheshire aka Actinopolyspora Biskrensis noticed something being wrong with the correction. It was fake, too!

Unfortunately, the corrected figures also include image overlaps, although in both cases indicated, the coloring seems to have been altered between the images. Difficult to understand how this could occur as an error during figure assembly.

Chidambaram replied: “Let me recheck with team and rectify“, which probably means the student will get the full punishment for that, whether she confesses or not.

Prof Guillemin added:

you can make a mistake once, but twice hmmmm

I’d like to have my name removed from the potential revised version of this manuscript

He also tweeted at Cheshire:

“As I mentioned to you NONE of the work you reported HAS NOT BEEN DONE in my lab.

Someone is afraid to face a well-deserved retraction methinks. But I am sure the Springer journal will accommodate the Professor who just happens to be the Associate Editor there.

There is namely more fraud Guillemin published in that journal with his friends Chidambaram and Essa, and the next paper has our Chevalier as last author. Whether he likes it or not, as last author the responsibility for that massive Photoshop fraud orgy is now largely his.

Mathiyazahan Dhivya Bharathi , Arokiasamy Justin-Thenmozhi , Thamilarasan Manivasagam , Mashoque Ahmad Rather , Chidambaram Saravana Babu , Musthafa Mohamed Essa , Gilles J. Guillemin Amelioration of Aluminum Maltolate-Induced Inflammation and Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress-Mediated Apoptosis by Tannoid Principles of Emblica officinalis in Neuronal Cellular Model Neurotoxicity Research (2019) doi: 10.1007/s12640-018-9956-5 

The following was again found by Bik, with the help of Hoya Camphorifolia:

Research figures can hardly be more fraudulent than this. It’s just trolling. Was that even peer reviewed? Was Guillemin his own editor here?

More fun with Fig 3c.

In any case, right away, the guilty party was determined by his mate Essa:

Immediately I have contacted Dr. Justin-Thenmozhi (senior author), to clarify this with the research scholar (1st author) who performed this work.

As a collaborator, I do all the time offering support for the structure of the project and editing / revising the manuscript, not the data or laboratory works.

So another gang member scientific collaborator, Justin Thenmozhi of Annamalai University in India, replied on PubPeer, once again blaming a student:

These issues have brought our attention we will seriously check all of the raw data related to this article and response as soon as possible. We will try to fix this problem by contacting the publishers as well. I apologies if it takes some time to find the original images because research scholar who did the experiment has left.

The student-scapegoating continued elsewhere, this time of yet another student.

Mashoque Ahmad Rather , Arokiasamy Justin-Thenmozhi , Thamilarasan Manivasagam , Chidambaram Saravanababu , Gilles J. Guillemin, Musthafa Mohamed Essa Asiatic Acid Attenuated Aluminum Chloride-Induced Tau Pathology, Oxidative Stress and Apoptosis Via AKT/GSK-3β Signaling Pathway in Wistar Rats Neurotoxicity Research (2019) doi: 10.1007/s12640-019-9999-2 

Bik: “Figure 10. The top left and the top right panel appear to show an area of overlap. Shown with light blue boxes. In addition, top top right and bottom left panel both appear to contain areas that are visible multiple times within the same photo.

That is of course also another case of outright Photoshop fraud. Thenmozhi posted the exact same message as above, reminding that the “research scholar who did the experiment has left.

A year later, in August 2021, Bik wondered how the progress of Themonzhi’s investigation was, and was informed that the authors contacted the editor “to publish Erratum and waiting for the reply“.

Sometimes it is even better to blame nameless technicians:

Sugumar Mani , Sathiya Sekar , Rajamani Barathidasan , Thamilarasan Manivasagam , Arokiasamy Justin Thenmozhi , Murugan Sevanan, Saravana Babu Chidambaram, Musthafa Mohamed Essa , Gilles J. Guillemin , Meena Kishore Sakharkar Naringenin Decreases α-Synuclein Expression and Neuroinflammation in MPTP-Induced Parkinson’s Disease Model in Mice Neurotoxicity Research (2018) doi: 10.1007/s12640-018-9869-3 

Bik posted in September 2019:

Figure 6C. Two sets of panels appear to show an area of overlap, shown here with red and blue boxes, respectively.”

Again, Chidambaram replied right away:

I take this very seriously will check with scholars n pathologist who performed this work.

On 6 September 2021, Chidambaram apparently finished beating out a confession investigating, and announced: “Erratum will be submitted soon“.

Other journals also have been contaminated by fake science by that group of scholars. Here, Guillemin (who as we know never contributes any data) is the last and also corresponding author:

Kuppusamy Tamilselvam , Nady Braidy , Thamilarasan Manivasagam , Musthafa Mohamed Essa , Nagarajan Rajendra Prasad , Subburayan Karthikeyan , Arokyasamy Justin Thenmozhi , Subash Selvaraju , Gilles J. Guillemin Neuroprotective Effects of Hesperidin, a Plant Flavanone, on Rotenone-Induced Oxidative Stress and Apoptosis in a Cellular Model for Parkinson’s Disease Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity (2013) doi: 10.1155/2013/102741 

The following was found by Cheshire:

Figure 5a appears to have two images which overlap, with slightly different coloring.”


Thenmozhi replied: “Let me allot some time to fix the problem“. Guess that student has left also?

All this makes one wonder if the following paper deserves another look, even if it has already been corrected in October 2019.

Musthafa Mohamed Essa, Selvaraju Subash , Chinnasamy Dhanalakshmi , Thamilarasan Manivasagam, Samir Al-Adawi , Gilles J. Guillemin, Arokiasamy Justin Thenmozhi Dietary Supplementation of Walnut Partially Reverses 1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine Induced Neurodegeneration in a Mouse Model of Parkinson’s Disease Neurochemical Research (2015) doi: 10.1007/s11064-015-1593-2 

Back in September 2019, Essa informed “Dear Elisabeth”, as per usual:

Already contacted the Postdoc who did all the work and the pathologist helped us to find out what happened.

But why not blaming the first author here as usual? Seriously, why not?

By now I think the only co-authors actually innocent of all that fraud are the students, postdocs and technicians constantly being scapegoated by the professorial Photoshop thugs. But it works, the vast majority of journals does not care at all, because their editors are either lazy, or stupid, or fraudulent crooks themselves, or all of the above.

But here is PLOS One, a journal showing how to solve such problems properly.

Udaiyappan Janakiraman , Thamilarasan Manivasagam , Arokiasamy Justin Thenmozhi , Musthafa Mohamed Essa , Rajamani Barathidasan , Chidambaram SaravanaBabu, Gilles J. Guillemin, Mohammed A. S. Khan Influences of Chronic Mild Stress Exposure on Motor, Non-Motor Impairments and Neurochemical Variables in Specific Brain Areas of MPTP/Probenecid Induced Neurotoxicity in Mice PLoS ONE (2016) doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0146671 

In September 2019, Bik found hilarious stuff there:

You can guess what Essa replied, surely?

Immediately I have contacted Dr. Manivasagam (senior author), to clarify this with the research scholar (1st author) who performed this work, who is currently doing post doc in the US.

As a collaborator, I do all the time offering support for the structure of the project and editing / revising the manuscript, not the data or laboratory works.

In July 2020, the paper was retracted, because of the new editorial policies at PLOS One and because even more figures were found to be fake. From the retraction notice:

“Following the publication of this article [1], concerns were raised regarding Figs 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12: […] The authors indicate that Fig 4A experiments were outsourced to a private laboratory, which has not been declared previously.

In light of the extent of data reporting issues, and the unresolved concerns that question the integrity of data reported in Fig 4A, the PLOS ONE Editors retract this article.”

But wasn’t Essa previously insisting that a student in the Annamalai lab of Thamilarasan Manivasagam did it? Lying buggers, can’t even get their lies straight. I think honest journals should be able to sue fraudulent authors for wasting their time.

Although, Manivasagam seems to be indeed one of the ringleaders here, his PubPeer record is steadily growing. In this regard, look what horrendous fraud a Springer journal decided to issue a correction for, Guillemin must pray to all gods on his knees not to have been invited to co-author that paper:

Govindasamy Pushpavathi Selvakumar , Thamilarasan Manivasagam , Karamkolly R. Rekha , Richard L. Jayaraj , Namasivayam Elangovan Escin, a novel triterpene, mitigates chronic MPTP/p-induced dopaminergic toxicity by attenuating mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and apoptosis Journal of molecular neuroscience : MN (2015) doi: 10.1007/s12031-014-0303-x

(top left) Bik: “Figure 8A shows immunostaining of 4 differently-treated mice. However in the 40x photos, three of the four panels appear to show overlapping areas.” (Above) “Figure 9A: Several unexpected similarities are visible between panels a) (control group) and b) (MPTP/p+ Escin group).

(Bottom left): Hoya camphorifolia: “Figure 8a (40x images) The first and third panels can be obtained by rotating and shearing / elongating the fourth panel. […] Fourth panel mapped onto the first. Fourth -> Third is left as an exercise for the reader.

Journal’s Erratum merely stated: “The original version of this article unfortunately contains an error in Figs. 8 and 9.” The Editor-in-Chief responsible here is Illana Gozes of Tel Aviv University, great job, congratulations etc.

Now, it may look like our poor Chevallier Guillemin just found himself in a bad company of data fakers and is himself actually a great scientist, ready to cure all neurodegenerative diseases just as his perfectly unbiased Wikipedia page assures.

The following paper is affiliation-wise strictly made in Sydney, Australia, and despite having officially merely contributed “Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools” and no experimental data whatsoever, Guillemin is last and even corresponding author:

Nady Braidy, Anne Poljak , Ross Grant , Tharusha Jayasena , Hussein Mansour , Tailoi Chan-Ling , George Smythe , Perminder Sachdev , Gilles J. Guillemin Differential expression of sirtuins in the aging rat brain Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience (2015) doi: 10.3389/fncel.2015.00167 

Look what Cheshire found, the most ridiculously fake western blots:

Let me guess? The student in somebody else’s lab who has already left? Right, it was the foreigners, as the French immigrant explained:

I tried to help past students and foreign collaborators [and] it’s very unpleasant to see this

The Sydney gang, most of whom at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), published also this fake western blot figure, also found by Cheshire:

Nady Braidy, Anne Poljak, Ross Grant, Tharusha Jayasena, Hussein Mansour, Tailoi Chan-Ling , Gilles J. Guillemin, George Smythe , Perminder Sachdev Mapping NAD(+) metabolism in the brain of ageing Wistar rats: potential targets for influencing brain senescence Biogerontology (2014)
doi: 10.1007/s10522-013-9489-5

Fig 2B
Fig 4A

The PubPeer record is growing nicely. Many of the co-authors aren’t foreign even, but at UNSW. Don’t expect much from that university though.

How about a wandering western blot?

Nady Braidy , Gilles J. Guillemin , Hussein Mansour , Tailoi Chan-Ling , Anne Poljak , Ross Grant Age related changes in NAD+ metabolism oxidative stress and Sirt1 activity in wistar rats PLoS ONE (2011) doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019194

Edentulina Martensi: “Figure 2, 5, 7 and 8: there are a lot of similarities in the blots from this figures and the ones in Braidy et al., 2014 and Braidy et al., 2015, that to me seem unexpected given that they should represent different tissues and/or treatment.
Since there were already a lot of colours and mess I prefered to highlight only the similarities regarding this paper. Refer to the other PubPeer posts.


Here is a thought: what if Prof Guillemin’s real talents are not just fishing and handball?

This article has been updated



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21 comments on ““NONE of the work HAS NOT BEEN DONE in my lab”

  1. Lee Rudolph

    I have begun to wonder whether, perhaps, it is becoming standard operating procedure in laboratories to enroll one sacrificial graduate student (on the model of sacrificial anodes in water heaters; certain NOT on the model of human, or even caprine, sacrifices!) each year. This would be cruel to a person so enlisted; but perhaps there isn’t even necessarily a person, just a space-holding name which can be entered into budgets, proposals, and eventually papers, then eliminated when it has become supersaturated with responsibility for fraud.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. alfricabos

    Just wow!! Reckless photoshopping at its best. Not without reminding me of masters of the genre such as David Latchman and Mario Saad.

    Like

  3. More by Chevalier Professor in the journal he is Associate Editor with:
    Nady Braidy, Helene Rossez , Chai K. Lim , Bat-Erdene Jugder , Bruce J. Brew , Gilles J. Guillemin
    Characterization of the Kynurenine Pathway in CD8+ Human Primary Monocyte-Derived Dendritic Cells
    Neurotoxicity Research (2016) doi: 10.1007/s126 40-016-9657-x

    Did they really publish with a predatory journal pretending to be Frontiers (which in turn is criticised as predatory)?

    Mashoque Ahmad Rather , Arokiasamy Justin Thenmozhi, Thamilarasan Manivasagam , Mathiyazahan Dhivya Bharathi , Musthafa Essa , Gilles J Guillemin
    Neuroprotective role of Asiatic acid in aluminium chloride induced rat model of Alzheimer’s disease
    Frontiers in bioscience (Scholar edition) (2018) doi: 10.2741/s514

    Of course we are scraping the barrel of Ayurveda and fenugreek quackery:

    Asokan Prema , Arokiasamy Justin Thenmozhi , Thamilarasan Manivasagam , Musthafa Mohamed Essa , Gilles J. Guillemin
    Fenugreek Seed Powder Attenuated Aluminum Chloride-Induced Tau Pathology, Oxidative Stress, and Inflammation in a Rat Model of Alzheimer’s Disease
    Journal of Alzheimer s Disease (2017) doi: 10.3233/jad-161103

    Like

  4. That Ataxin-3 result doesn’t seem much reproducible. Completely different data between preprint and the final paper.
    Maxinne Watchon , Luan Luu , Katherine J. Robinson , Kristy C. Yuan , Alana De Luca , Hannah J. Suddull , Madelaine C. Tym , Gilles J. Guillemin, Nicholas J. Cole , Garth A. Nicholson , Roger S. Chung , Albert Lee , Angela S. Laird Sodium valproate increases activity of the sirtuin pathway resulting in beneficial effects for spinocerebellar ataxia-3 in vivo Molecular Brain (2021) doi: 10.1186/s13041-021-00839-x

    Like

  5. After thanking me for identifying many of these problem papers, he now has blocked me on Twitter.

    Like

  6. NMH, the failed scientist and incel

    Scientific research appears to be attracting narcissists like politics. Why bother with supporting it anymore, when they publish crap only to support their ego?

    Like

  7. Success has many Photoshoppers. Retraction has one.

    Like

  8. Spelling error in multiple places. It should be Sydney, not Sidney. Thank you

    Like

  9. Fair Dinkum

    Good Afternoon,
    I’m not sure that personally attacking people and institutions adds much to your case, in fact when discussing vanity and heroics it may be yourself who has an issue.
    Cheers

    Like

    • while you are already hiding behind VPN, go and create a Wikipedia page for me also. Then come back here complaining about my vanity and heroics.
      When you posted this, it was “good afternoon” in Australia.

      Like

  10. Springer Nature is a joke. Obviously they do not give a damn what is published, tgey’re just interested on APC money, submission rates, IF bullshit and other nonsense. Hope serious scientists will start boycotting Springer journals more and more in the future. What a shame.

    Like

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