Schneider Shorts of 21 January 2022 – Dutch human rights professors on China’s payroll, a nanotechnologist celebrated for creatively pointless torture of mice, with a Kaplan-Meier clinical trial generator, UC Davis super-berries, a multimillion biotech refusing to share published reagents, and a dirty old man in Marseille vacating CEO job by mid-2022.
Table of Discontent
- CEO for IHU Marseille – a job opening for YOU to apply!
- Dutch Human Rights Experts – Amsterdam ethics professors serving Chinese paymasters
- Kurin out – Michael Balter with news on archaeologist who sued him for $10 Million
- Dr Sun has his fun – with mouse testicle torture
- Superberries – UC Davis warns to eat goji berries or face blindness
- Retraction Request – Kenneth Witwer asks to withdraw his commentary
- A pleasant surprise – For Better Science credited in a retraction
CEO for IHU Marseille
My readers are invited to apply for this job at IHU Marseille:
Call for Application
for the position of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire Méditerranée Infection, Marseilles, France, EU
IHU MEDITERRANEE INFECTION is n o w launching an open call to recruit a CEO with a full-time position. The selected candidate is expected to take up the position between September 30, 2022 and December 31, 2022. The CEO’s clinical activity within the IHU will be conducted on the IHU platform.
The successful candidate must be an eminent researcher, with spectacular achievements in the field of infectious diseases at large, including epidemiology, medicine, immunology, microbiology, and/or virology. An interest in tropical infections would be anasset. In addition, the candidate must have shown organizational leadership, be familiar with research and medical administrative systems in France or elsewhere, and display stellar international reputation.
The candidate has to be fluent in both French and English.
Specifically, the successful candidate should have a superb track record of leadership not only in biomedical research, as head of a research laboratory, but also in the management of a large and complex organization, such as a research institute or department. The candidate must have a stainless reputation for effective interpersonal and administrative skills. The CEO must display high-level medical and scientific skills. He or she should also possess strong abilities and experience in establishing, contracts for biomedical research, industrial partnerships and fundraising. The candidate’s capacity to federate IHU Méditerranée Infection teams around a common project and a bold vision will be a key criterion in the selection process.
Candidates should have sent their application to firstname.lastname@example.org by may 31 2022 11:00 AM (Paris time).
Basically, the chloroquine guru Didier Raoult is about to be pushed out as IHU director by summer 2022. Previously, Raoult has been forcibly retired as Aix-Marseille University professor, his medical privileges in the Marseille public hospital were terminated also.
Now, the head of recruitment committee Louis Schweitzer is not just someone. This former CEO of Renault is one of the top people in French politics and industry. Most recently, the 79 year old presided over the investigation of paedophilia scandal around Olivier Duhamel and the Paris university Sciences Po (see also official report here). Schweizer has since taken over Duhamel’s job as interim president of the Fondation nationale des sciences politiques. In 1990ies, Schweizer was convicted in courts for wiretapping a journalist, there were also other offences. Basically, Schweitzer is a tough guy used to clean up the worst national messes in France.
However, I am wondering which sane scientist will apply for Raoult’s job. Thing is, the rest of Raoult’s gang remains in place. Yolande Obadia, wife of Raoult’s best friend Jean-Paul Moatti, remains in her job as IHU’s foundation president, she in fact issued this job posting. So will everyone else remain in their permanent IHU positions, and it’s unlikely these toxic characters who helped Raoult in his criminal campaigns of fraud and patient abuse can be moved out: Michel Drancourt, Philippe Gautret, Matthieu Million, Philippe Parola, Jean-Marc Rolain, Bernard La Scola, Philippe Brouqui, Yannis Roussel, and of course the misogynous antisemite and far-right bully Eric Chabriere.
If you know these people await you inside IHU, with their violence-inclined fascist friends waiting outside and occasionally entering to visit, would you come?
Next to the Schweitzer, the other members of recruitment committee are Christian Brechot, Jean-Laurent Casanova, Jacques Fellay, Patrick Forterre, Gérard Karsenty, Bernard Malissen, Souleymane M’Boup, Trine Mogensen, Miroslav Radman, Alain-Jacques Valleron and Laurence Zitvogel.
Zitvogel also is to remain president of IHU’s scientific advisory board. She is the wife of Guido Kroemer, together these two Paris professors published an amazing record of falsified research. The couple are also Raoult’s personal friends.
Dutch Human Rights Experts
The Dutch newspaper NOS reports about what goes on at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) in Amsterdam:
“The Cross-Cultural Human Rights Centre (CCHRC) at the VU received in 2018, 2019 and 2020 between 250,000 and 300,000 euros per year, according to the documents. The money comes from the Southwest University of Political Science and Law in Chongqing. […]
The money from China is used for various purposes. The center runs a scientific journal, organizes conferences and develops a ‘global view on human rights’. The mission of the center is laid down in the financing agreement with the Chinese university: to draw attention to a global view of human rights, and specifically to the way in which non-Western countries such as China view human rights.
The director of the center, Professor of Human Rights Tom Zwart of Utrecht University, is a welcome guest in the country. He is a regular guest on the Chinese state television and won a prize for his contribution to Chinese legal science.
In an interview with Chinese state television he says: “We should not leave it to politicians, especially not Western politicians, to determine what we think about human rights.” He also says that he believes that China has the best intentions with human rights. “The development of human rights in China should be seen in the context of domestic conditions and not be a copy of the West.”
Needless to say, these Dutch professors are convinced the Uyghurs get what they deserve:
“Another CCHRC staff member, Professor Peter Peverelli, also makes statements that work in favor of the Beijing government. For example, Peverelli labels on Linkedin the stories about Uyghurs’ labor camps as “rumours” and states that it is fashionable these days to be critical of China. “Xinjiang is simply beautiful: beautiful people, breathtaking nature and good food. And no forced labour, no genocide, or whatever lies the western media come up with.”
The center also has its own news page. It states that in October 2020, delegates from the CCHRC travelled to Xinjiang. The situation they found there “did not reflect the grim situation portrayed in Western reports. There is no discrimination against Uyghurs or other minorities in that region,” it assures“
This is not the first time when a Dutch university condones Uyghur abuse to earn some pennies from China.
Independent science journalist and #MeTooSTEM activist Michael Balter was previously sued by Californian archaeologist Danielle Kurin first for $18 Million, then for $10 Million, after Balter cited witness allegations of her bullying and retaliation against victims of her ex-husband and sexual harasser, Enmanuel Gomez Choque. Kurin argued that UC Santa Barbara denied her tenure due to Balter’s revelations, yet she eventually got her tenure anyway. The lawsuit was settled, but when Kurin broke the settlement, Balter resumed his reporting.
Balter now writes:
“As I reported yesterday, after years of documented misconduct, former University of California, Santa Barbara archaeologist Danielle Kurin has abruptly resigned the tenured position she was just awarded last August. Exactly what led to her resignation is still unclear, although it appears to be linked at least in part to issues that have been raised concerning her handling of human remains she claims belong to a missing teenager, a victim of the 2018 Montecito mudslide that took 23 lives. Neither Kurin, her attorney, nor UCSB are commenting so far on the reasons for her resignation, but many students and faculty at UCSB–along with other colleagues in the archaeology and anthropology communities–are celebrating her departure. One former student at UCSB was reported to have started jumping up and down with glee in his living room upon hearing the news of her resignation, and similarly jubilant reactions are widespread.
The celebrations are tinged with lingering suspicions, however, that the resignation might not be real and that somehow Kurin will re-emerge at UCSB or elsewhere.”
In this regard, remember how all academia and even Science magazine fought Vanderblit University for the tenure denied to their biggest hero and champion r of #MeTooSTEM, BethAnn Mclaughlin (aka @McLneuro)? Balter became a target of this community for his criticism of this leader, who later, unsurprisingly, proved to be a bullying lying racist fraudster, a fraudster in every possible way.
Dr Sun has his fun
The Conversation is a site where academic scientists and academia’s embedded journalists educate the public about the genius ideas, amazing discoveries and scientific breakthroughs. So here is a recent masterpiece of science writing by Jeffrey Mo, fellow at the School of Public Health of University of Toronto, Canada.
“Using nanotechnology to warm testicles was first studied in 2013 on mice by biologist Fei Sun and his multidisciplinary research team. His early experiments involved injecting nanoparticles directly into mouse testicles. These nanoparticles were long nanorods (or nanocylinders) of gold […]
Infrared radiation was then used on the mice’s testicles. This caused the nanoparticles to warm from around 30 C to between 37 and 45 C. The exact temperature depended on both the concentration of nanoparticles injected and the intensity of the radiation.
The radiation caused heat lesions on the skin surrounding the mice’s testicles, so it was assumed that this procedure was painful for the animals…”
Dr Sun of the Nantong University in China however definitely enjoyed torturing mice. So he continued:
“In July 2021, Sun’s team published a paper on their latest findings. The nanorods in the new method are composed of magnetic iron oxide instead of gold, and they are coated with citric acid instead of ethylene glycol — but they have the same size and shape as the earlier nanorods.
These magnetic nanoparticles were injected into mice’s veins, and then the animals were anesthetized. A magnet was then placed next to their testicles for four hours, drawing the nanoparticles there.
This procedure — injection followed by magnetic targeting — was performed daily for one to four days.
After the last day of treatment, an electric coil was wrapped around the testicles, through which a current was passed. This induced a magnetic field that heated up the nanorods and, therefore, the testicles. Similar temperature increases — from a baseline of 29 C to between 37 and 42 C — were observed through this method. The more days a mouse had been injected with nanorods, the hotter its testicles became.”
Dr Sun had his fun. And the journal where this scientifically pointless animal torture trash was published is ACS’ Nano Letters, Impact Factor 11, where it passed peer review in under a month. Your pathetic research has no chance to get even to peer review stage there.
Weihua Ding , Zhichuan Chen , Yayun Gu , Zhengru Chen , Yanqiong Zheng , Fei Sun Magnetic Testis Targeting and Magnetic Hyperthermia for Noninvasive, Controllable Male Contraception via Intravenous Administration Nano Letters (2021) doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.1c02181
The study was completely pointless. The tortured mice never became temporarily sterile, they still retained residual fertility at all times. But hey, an official at the US zoo association is keen to test it. Sun however has bigger plans:
“Sun’s ultimate goal is human contraception, although he admits that’s still a long way off. As with zoo animals, detailed studies will be required to establish that nanocontraception is not toxic for men. It is also more difficult to put a man under anesthesia for four hours and wrap an electric coil around his testicles than it is to do the same thing on a mouse. Instead, Sun hopes to be able to deliver the magnetic nanorods orally and find another way to direct them to the testicles.”
Dr Sun should definitely try it on himself. Nano Letters will sure publish that paper, too.
Public Health Service Announcement by University of California Davis on what to do to avoid going blind:
“Regularly eating a small serving of dried goji berries may help prevent or delay the development of age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, in healthy middle-aged people, according to a small, randomized trial conducted at the University of California, Davis. […]
“AMD affects your central field of vision and can affect your ability to read or recognize faces,” said Glenn Yiu, a co-author of the study and an associate professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences.
The researchers found that 13 healthy participants aged 45 to 65 who consumed 28 grams (about one ounce, or a handful) of goji berries five times a week for 90 days increased the density of protective pigments in their eyes. In contrast, 14 study participants who consumed a commercial supplement for eye health over the same period did not show an increase.”
This silly trash was of course unpublishable anywhere else but in MDPI:
Xiang Li, Roberta R. Holt, Carl L. Keen, Lawrence S. Morse, Glenn Yiu and Robert M. Hackman , Goji Berry Intake Increases Macular Pigment Optical Density in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Pilot Trial, Nutrients (2021). DOI: 10.3390/nu13124409
The authors declare no conflicts of interests, but “thank Navitas Organics, Novato, CA for the goji berries used in this study.”
You want mechanistic insight?
“The pigments that increased in the group that ate goji berries, lutein and zeaxanthin, filter out harmful blue light and provide antioxidant protection. Both help to protect the eyes during aging.
“Lutein and zeaxanthin are like sunscreen for your eyes,” said lead author Xiang Li, a doctoral candidate in the Nutritional Biology Program. “The higher the lutein and zeaxanthin in your retina, the more protection you have. Our study found that even in normal healthy eyes, these optical pigments can be increased with a small daily serving of goji berries,” said Li.”
Johns Hopkins University professor Kenneth Witwer wrote on 18 January 2022 to the editor of the Elsevier journal Molecular Therapy:
“I would like to request an immediate withdrawal of my commentary, “On your MARCKS, get set, deliver: Engineering extracellular vesicles” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33891862/ [DOI: 10.1016/j.ymthe.2021.04.013 -LS] This is a commentary on: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33484965/ [DOI: 10.1016/j.ymthe.2021.01.020 – LS], A versatile platform for generating engineered extracellular vesicles with defined therapeutic properties
Over the past ten months, the authors of the publication (Dooley and McConnell, as well as other representatives of their company) have on at least five occasions been requested to provide their plasmids, which they are obligated to do as part of their publication agreement. They also agreed to do this in person to me at least three times, also on the online journal club that I host for ISEV, and in their agreements with the journal. These materials have not been provided. If I, as a senior officer of the major international society in the field, am unable to get a positive answer, it is clear that there are problems. These materials should be available to all.
Even more concerningly, my concerns addressed to the staff and editors of Molecular Therapy have also gone unanswered. It is understandable that a company would wish to withhold reagents from the community, but the journal should be in a position to ensure compliance. I have had no replies from the journal to my inquiries.
When I met the CTO of the company in person, Dr. Konstantin Konstantinov, in Italy in October 2021, he answered, as recorded to the entire attendance, “we don’t care” about the concerns and interests of academic scientists.
I am no longer confident that this work, this publication, and the published products of this company in general are reliable parts of the scientific record. Please withdraw my commentary immediately.“
Witwer contacted the journal after the biotech company authors stopped answering to his reminders (they initially agreed to send him the materials). The journal does expect from its authors to share DNA plasmids:
“If you publish in Molecular Therapy journals, you must be willing to distribute materials and protocols to qualified researchers, with minimal restrictions and in a timely manner. Any restrictions need to be disclosed in the cover letter and in the Materials and Methods at the time of submission. You may request reasonable payment for maintenance and transport of materials.Materials include but are not limited to cells, DNA, antibodies, reagents, organisms, and mouse strains or, if necessary, the relevant ES cells.”
The editors now asked Witwer not to retract his commentary, but instead submits a letter to the editor (which incidentally means more referenced content for the journal impact factor). The editors also said they are considering an Editorial Expression of Concern. Apparently the authors are ignoring their requests for clarifications for months already.
Oh, and by the way. The company in question in the multimillion-heavy Codiak Biosciences. It was originally founded by President Biden’s current science advisor Eric Lander and MD Anderson’s untouchable cheater professor Raghu Kalluri. Codiak’s technology was initially at least in part based on Kalluri’s then-postdoc’s Sonia Melo‘s fabricated exosome data.
A pleasant surprise
A retraction notice of a kind one sees very rarely, just issued by the Institute of Physics (IOP) publisher:
“This article has been retracted by IOP Publishing in light of admissions from the authors that this article is heavily based on a thesis , which was not declared or referenced in this article. The author of the thesis is not listed as an author or credited in this article. As a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics, this has been investigated in line with COPE guidelines and a decision to retract has been made. IOP Publishing wishes to credit Xiang Lv and Leonid Schneider for initially bringing the issue to our attention.”
The retracted paper was this:
Yuqing Zhang, Yan Xu, Yiren Lu, Lili Zhao and Lixin Song Phosphorylated silica nanotubes: preparation and characterization (2013 Nanotechnology 24 315701)
The retraction notice referred to my article from November 2020 on the whistleblowing report by Xiang Lv, who exposed the decade-long fraud in the lab of now sacked Tianjin University professor of engineering, Yuqing Zhang. Research in this lab was falsified by one student and published as MSc theses by another student, in a never-ending fraud cycle, a number of the papers featured Zhang’s daughter as lead author.
I never wrote to the publisher or the journal’s editor, but I may have tweeted my article at IOP back then (can’t check now, for obvious reasons). But then I must have also informed Elsevier where almost all these utterly fake and plagiarised papers were published. I wrote over a year ago was: “My own prediction is however that nobody is interested in retracting those 50 utterly fictional papers Zhang published with or without his daughter.” Indeed, this IOP retraction is the only one Zhang suffered.
But hey, Elsevier is merely working to get us all killed and we pay them for it.
News in Tweets
- A Twitter follower informs Elisabeth Bik of a strange Chinese online tool, called Gepia. You select a random gene, pick a dataset from a list, and voila, you have a beautiful Kaplan-Meier survival curve which you (or a paper mill of your choice) can use for your fraudulent publications about made-up clinical trials.
- Speaking of Filamin A, a bit more on Cassava Sciences fraud in Wang et al Molecular Neurodegeneration 2021:
- Speaking of Cassava Sciences fraud and Wang et al 2021, this paper’s retraction is imminent, because unlike certain others, one journal (Molecular Neurodegeneration, by BMC/Springer Nature) refused to accept fake “raw data”.
- “We have been able to spot fraudulent research thanks in large part to one key tell that an article has been artificially manipulated: The nonsensical “tortured phrases” that fraudsters use in place of standard terms to avoid anti-plagiarism software. Our computer system, which we named the Problematic Paper Screener, searches through published science and seeks out tortured phrases in order to find suspect work.” By Guillaume Cabanac, Cyril Labbé, Alexander Magazinov in The Bulletin
- Argentinian biochemistry cheater Ariel Fernandez is back, he proffers his unhelpful contribution to the COVID-19 lab leak origins debate, and he developed more sockpuppets! This time not some fictional hot ladies with exotic names, but “SmutClyde” and… “LeonidJoJoSchneider” who were unsuccessfully deployed to embellish his Wikipedia page. The real Smut Clyde once explained how Fernandez’ fake data was found almost a decade ago: “…close examination of Dr Fernandez’s data sets — the foundation of his academic reputation — revealed peculiar and unconvincing qualities to them. Almost as if the data points had been generated from a theoretical linear or parabolic line, with noise added in a half-assed way.“
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