Schneider Shorts of 28 January 2022 – A special focus on the research fraud meltdown in Brno, Ajan’s new scams, with an Elsevier antivaxxer in Greece, Vrije Universiteit learns about human rights, and Science has spoken: cannabis is the cure for the pandemic.
Table of Discontent
- Disregard the Errata – Newly elected Mendel University rector Vojtech Adam guilty of research misconduct, 9 retractions recommended, his mentor and collaborator René Kizek sacked by Masaryk University
- Ajan’s new adventures – the Novacyt PCR test scam and Britain’s corruption
- Elsevier’s Antivaxxer – Konstantinos Poulas not just a tobacco shill, and now denied professorship
- Italian Sputniks – Russians go to Italy, pay, and get the results they ordered.
- Cannabis again – US scientists even have clinical data, cure is found, Science has spoken.
News in Tweets
Disregard the Errata
Mendel University Brno in Czechia found its own newly appointed rector Vojtech Adam guilty of research misconduct, a report has been published online. Out of 12 investigated papers, 9 were either recommended or considered for retraction.
“The Committee met for the first time on November 15, 2021 and decided that the investigation will focus on the 12 publications flagged on PubPeer where Vojtěch Adam is the corresponding author (see References). […] On December 6, 2021 the requested materials were delivered to the Committee. In addition, Prof. Adam and his team submitted errata for 8 out of the 12 papers, three of which were already published by the respective journals (Kynicky et al., 2018; Merlos Rodrigo et al., 2019; Milosavljevic et al., 2016). The Committee has received the information that two papers will be retracted, however the status of the decision at the journals is currently unknown.”
Adam has 26 papers on PubPeer, most evidence was posted by Elisabeth Bik. Several of these fake studies have already been corrected, their conclusions deemed unaffected.
There is no direct reference to my article and my misconduct notification to the Mendel University’s current rector and member of investigative committee, Danuše Nerudová, who then initiated the proceedings together with the Brno
University of Technology (BUT) and the Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC). Two members of the committee came from the the Max Planck Institute
of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) in Dresden (no, not Marino Zerial).
The “Vojtech Adam investigation report” can be also downloaded here:
“The Committee came to the consensus that this argument together with the errata is not sufficient to convincingly correct the scientific record. Scientific work relies crucially on extreme rigour and requires maximum integrity in the presented data. Whenever discrepancies are so obvious that they can be discovered simply by visual inspection, a doubt is cast on the entire piece of work. It is irrelevant whether the manipulations are intentional or result from negligence. The only meaningful defence in such a case is to identify the source of the discrepancy by inspecting the raw data and thus dispel any notion of misconduct.
Apparently, Prof. Adam did not grasp the Committee’s definition of raw data. The microscopy images he provided were in most cases low-resolution jpeg files that were used to assemble the composite figures. The Committee expected to receive the raw data files from microscopy software. Without exception, single images were presented as if no other data supporting the conclusions of the work exist. If mistakes were made, one would expect that wrong images were picked from a large pool of data – perhaps due to ambiguous naming of the files. Since almost none of the datasets were accompanied by laboratory notebook records, no such scenarios could be envisaged. This approach to raw data management is not in line with a good scientific practice.
For images of molecular biology gels, the Committee was expecting to receive raw scans of complete experiments with individual lanes labelled and, when appropriate, sufficiently replicated. Instead, Prof. Adam’s laboratory apparently assembled gels in PowerPoint as collages of objects cropped from the raw data. This, however, is not an acceptable scientific practice. Moreover, occasionally the band objects were arbitrarily placed regardless of molecular weight, duplicated and mirrored (Merlos Rodrigo et al., 2018 in Oncotarget; Merlos Rodrigo et al., 2018 in Prostate). This is a clear case of scientific misconduct.”
The report contains this illustration:
“Preparing Figures for scientific publications is a meticulous effort that demands attention to every detail. For many of the figures that the Committee studied, this level of care was not apparent. Some of the duplications were glaringly obvious and should have been detected by the authors. This oversight might be attributed to the unprecedented volume of publications that the group of Prof. Adam produced over the years. Adaptive behaviour towards high volume publishing is detrimental to the quality of science.
It was particularly concerning that in at least two cases, discrepancies appeared also in the data provided to the Committee as corrections. Moreover, the explanation of the discrepancies presented to the Committee differed from the explanations given to the media (Figure 1E in Merlos Rodrigo et al., (2018) commented on in DenikN newspaper1). The Committee leaves the interpretation of these observations to others.
Finally, the Committee was struck by the poor level of peer review and editorial handling of most of the papers in questions. Given the superficial nature of the editorial processes, the Committee recommends to disregard the errata that these publishers so easily accepted.
Scientists should strive to publish their work in journals with higher standards.
Conclusion Taken together, the Committee concludes that the published work carried out in the laboratory of Prof. Adam and evaluated by the Committee did not adhere to the principles of good scientific practice. The issues ranged from gross negligence in quality control to clear signs of data manipulation. The Committee recommends retracting at least 6 papers to correct the scientific record.”
Actually, 3 more retractions were advised, making it 9 recommended retractions in total. I won’t be surprised when the publishers refuse and issue more correction for Adam and his team.
In any case, Adam is unlikely to take his rectorship position now.
Elisabeth Bik blogged about this investigative report, read here.
If this affair played in Spain, France, Italy or in particular in UK, there would be no misconduct findings. There probably wouldn’t even be an investigation. Just saying.
Adam however is defiant and demands to be allowed to take his rightful position as rector of the Mendel University. He however missed the official appointment ceremony in Prague Castle on 26 January for health reasons. Pavel Tomančák, head of CEITEC Consortium, MPI-CBG group leader and one of Adam’s investigators told me:
“As of 1st of February 2022, Professor Adam resigned on his position of Research Group Leader at CEITEC BUT. Management of the CEITEC BUT has decided that the style of Vojtech Adam´s research group scientific practise will be examined by a control audit. Additionally, I am planning to take steps to increase awareness regarding good scientific practice among CEITEC consortium researchers at all career levels. “
In my view, since Adam’s ERC-funded research was located at CEITEC/VUT, his running grant is not tenable anymore, for formal reasons alone. In this regard ERC spokesperson told me:
“The Integrity Standing Committee of the ERC’s executive agency is examining Prof Vojtech Adam’s case.“
Elsewhere in Brno, things are happening.
For Adam’s mentor and corresponding author of many fraudulent papers, the Masaryk University professor René Kizek, it’s literally game over. Here is what Michaela Pokorná, Rector’s spokesperson, wrote to me:
“Shortly after the incorporation of the Faculty of Pharmacy into the structure of Masaryk University in July 2020 (previously, the Faculty was part of the University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno), the current management of MU instructed the management of the Faculty of Pharmacy, where Prof. Kizek worked at the time, to immediately implement the academic ethical standards of Masaryk University. The new management of the Faculty of Pharmacy MU then terminated its cooperation with Prof. Kizek as of 31 December 2021. Therefore, Prof. Kizek is no longer employed by Masaryk University.“
I am now an even bigger fan of Czechia than I was before. And here is a new one by Adam & Kizek, reported by Bik:
Vojtech Adam , Radka Mikelova , Jaromír Hubalek , Pavel Hanustiak , Miroslava Beklova , Petr Hodek , Ales Horna , Libuse Trnkova , Marie Stiborova , Ladislav Zeman , Rene Kizek Utilizing of Square Wave Voltammetry to Detect Flavonoids in the Presence of Human Urine Sensors (2007) doi: 10.3390/s7102402
Ajan’s new adventures
Remember Ajan Reginald, protegee and business partner of Britain’s national treasure, the Nobel prize laureate Sir Martin Evans?
The two gentlemen once founded a stem cell company, Celixir, which treated several heart attack patients in Greece with injections of blood cells, which they apparently drew from other heart attack patients in a Wales hospital. Last year, Celixir started to do the same in London, but with some bone marrow cells they bought form a US company. Unfortunately for Sir Martin and Ajan, as well as for their friends at UK authorities, Patricia Murray interfered and spoiled everything.
Ajan is now back in the news, he was busy fighting the pandemic, you see. Private Eye reports:
“BIOTECH company Primerdesign, which pocketed millions of pounds from taxpayers with its early development of Covid-19 PCR laboratory kits (Eye 1556), is now at the centre of claims that it faked validation results for one of its more recent products.
Owned by French group Novacyt, Primerdesign is said to have falsified data for a three-gene kit in order to cash in on last summer’s travel demand for ‘test to release’ PCR tests. It is also accused of persuading the head of an NHS laboratory to provide the ‘independent’ validation report required before it could market its ‘genesig Covid-19 3G assay’, which falsely claimed the test was more than 99 percent accurate.
As a result, the kit has sold in the UK and abroad mainly into the lucrative private PCR-testing market for international travellers, essential workers and those in the film, media and corporate world.
Novacyt is already at the centre of a multimillion-pound legal dispute with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) over a September 2020 deal to supply PCR machines and tests to hospitals. The DHSC cancelled the contract amid claims the ‘rapid’ multi-testing process was not as straightforward or accurate as the company had claimed.
The Eye has now learnt that a whistleblower complained last summer to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) about the validation of the three-gene kit. This apparently followed senior project staff brushing aside widely expressed concerns over potential implications for scientific integrity and public health.”
You are confused what this banana republic-worthy Novacyt scam of COVID-19 PCR tests has to do with our Celixir hero of regenerative medicine?
“…one Novacyt name that might raise a red-flag with the regulator is that of Ajan Reginald, its chief technical officer until he left the company on new year’s eve. Reginald, a former dentist who was struck off for harming patients and defrauding the NHS, is also CEO of stem cell company Celixir. […]
Reginald, who had made Celixir’s Stratford-upon-Avon lab available to Primerdesign, is said to have had oversight of the three-gene product and his name also appears on the contested contract with the DHSC.”
A long Greek Inside Story article about a certain scientist Smut Clyde previously wrote about:
“Konstantinos Poulas has become his central figure for a few months with a recent movement against the (mandatory) vaccination for Covid-19 and is a regular speaker at relevant gatherings inside and outside Patras. He describes his “opposite narrative” stance as a “revolution of logic and truth” and warns (in the same interview) that “what we are living in is a war, not with conventional or nuclear weapons, but biological weapons” and that “We all need to be prepared for surprises.” […]
Konstantinos Poulas’s public statements as an associate professor and scientist, as well as some ethical issues or possible disciplinary misconduct that appear to have arisen in accordance with the University regulations (discussed in detail below), are – according to his colleagues who spoke anonymously in the inside story – “thorn” for the University of Patras. Thus, there were many who were relieved when on December 21, 2021 the electorate rejected the candidacy of Mr. Poulas for the position of full professor for formal reasons. According to information from inside story, a lack of some supporting documents was found and thus the electorate avoided entering into the substantive judgment of the candidate. The omission in the supporting documents presented by him, finally seems to have loosened the hands of those who were not in the mood to “pull the snake out of the hole”.”
They probably figured out what kind of antivax “science” Poulas, who also moonlights as a Big Tobacco shill, published in Toxicology Reports, a toxic Elsevier journal of his Greek friend Aristides Tsatsakis. Poulas also sits on this journal’s editorial board.
To be fair, Elsevier decided to investigate one of those Poulas’ papers in Toxicology Reports (which claims COVID-19 vaccines kill more people over 65 than they save), but refused to tell the university what they decided.
Antonio F. Hernández, Daniela Calina , Konstantinos Poulas , Anca Oana Docea , Aristidis M. Tsatsakis Safety of COVID-19 vaccines administered in the EU: Should we be concerned? Toxicology Reports (2021) doi: 10.1016/j.toxrep.2021.04.003
Inside Story also quotes Poulas’ public statements at the antivax rallies he attended, I am pretty sure that Elsevier remains fully behind their editor and contributor:
- They try to rape what we know, but we know. […] To better understand, those of our fellow human beings who have been vaccinated twice and thrice, and tomorrow four or five times, because they go there, are dangerous for the perpetuation of the pandemic. […] If they think we are lying, let them come face to face with us here, or wherever they want. […] we are not afraid of them because we know the truth. We know that vaccines were made not to prevent pandemics, but to subdue humans […].SOURCE
- […] if we all did this en masse, the whole society, one morning, and we washed exhaustively with this water (s.s .: hypertonic solution from the pharmacy, or sea water, or homemade salt water) nasopharyngeally, the viral load would disappear, because if in six hours we achieved a 25% reduction, we know that in 12 and more hours we can zero the load. So if we zero the viral load it means that people will not have a load to send to their fellow man […].SOURCE
Not just salt water. Poulas is in trouble for “inventing” a COVID-19 quack therapy with a suppository of Imiquimod, a genital wart ointment ingredient (I shudder to think how Poulas arrived at that!). Poulas even sues someone in Brazil for copying his method:
“A lawsuit has been filed by Mr.Poulas against someone regarding a “miracle drug” that was administered (experimentally) and saved the life of a specific patient who was hospitalized with Covid-19 at the University Hospital of Rio in April 2020.”
As the Omicron Plague is ravishing the world, Russia is here to save us. Russian authorities keep producing “studies” that Biontech vaccine is a failure, actually all COVID-19 vaccines failed, only Sputnik V works, give us the EU and WHO approval now, or else.
Coverage by Reuters:
“A small preliminary laboratory study has shown that levels of Omicron-neutralising antibodies of people vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine did not decline as much as of those who had Pfizer shots.
The joint Russian-Italian study – funded by the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which markets Sputnik V abroad – compared the blood serum of people who had received the different vaccines.
The preliminary study was conducted by scientists from the Spallanzani Institute in Italy and Gamaleya Institute in Moscow, the developer of Sputnik V vaccine.
Researchers said samples taken three to six months after the second dose of a vaccine have shown that the levels of antibodies in recipients of two doses of Sputnik V were more resistant to Omicron than in those vaccinated with Pfizer.
It included 51 people vaccinated with Sputnik V and 17 after two shots of the Pfizer vaccine.”
Here is the preprint, let’s see if Lancet is again interested in Russian lies and propaganda:
Daniele Lapa , Daria Grousova , Giulia Matusali , Silvia Meschi , Francesca Colavita , Aurora Bettini , Giulia Gramigna , Massimo Francalancia , Anna Rosa Garbuglia , Enrico Girardi , Vincenzo Puro , Andrea Antinori , Anna Kovyrshina , Inna Dolzhikova , Dmitry Shcheblyakov , Amir Tukhvatulin , Olga Zubkova , Denis Logunov , Boris Naroditsky , Francesco Vaia , Alexander Gintsburg Retention of Neutralizing response against SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant in Sputnik V vaccinated individuals bioRxiv (2022) doi: 10.1101/2022.01.15.22269335
The study’s conclusion:
“Today the necessity of third booster vaccination is obvious. And the most effective approach, already shown in several studies, is the use of heterologous booster vaccination pioneered in COVID-19 vaccines by Sputnik V.”
Actually those studies which were not paid by Russia show that Sputnik V doesn’t work for Omicron at all.
I previously brought you the happy news that cannabis is indeed the cure for COVID-19, as American scientists found out. Now other American scientists made same discovery, so if each of us just lights up a joint, the Omicron Plague will be over in a puff.
Here the press release by University of Chicago:
“The idea to test CBD as a potential COVID-19 therapeutic was serendipitous. “CBD has anti-inflammatory effects, so we thought that maybe it would stop the second phase of COVID infection involving the immune system, the so-called ‘cytokine storm,’” said Marsha Rosner, Charles B. Huggins Professor in the Ben May Department of Cancer Research and a senior author of the study. “Surprisingly, it directly inhibited viral replication in lung cells.” […]
The researchers wanted scientific data to show that CBD prevents viral replication in live animals. The team showed pretreatment with CBD for one week prior to infection with the virus suppressed infection both in the lung and the nasal passages of mice. “These results provide major support for a clinical trial of CBD in humans,” said Rosner.
And the success of CBD wasn’t limited to the laboratory: An analysis of 1,212 patients from the National COVID Cohort Collaborative revealed that patients taking a medically prescribed oral solution of CBD for the treatment of epilepsy tested positive for COVID-19 at significantly lower rates than a sample of matched patients from similar demographic backgrounds who were not taking CBD.
Here is the COVID-19 crushing paper by Chicago geniuses which will make history books et cetera:
Long Chi Nguyen, Dongbo Yang, Vlad Nicolaescu, Thomas J. Best, Haley Gula, Divyasha Saxena, Jon D. Gabbard, Shao-Nong Chen, Takashi Ohtsuki, John Brent Friesen, Nir Drayman, Adil Mohamed, Christopher Dann, Diane Silva, Lydia Robinson-Mailman, Andrea Valdespino, Letícia Stock, Eva Suárez, Krysten A. Jones, Saara-Anne Azizi, Jennifer K. Demarco, William E. Severson, Charles D. Anderson, James Michael Millis, Bryan C. Dickinson, Savas Tay, Scott A. Oakes, Guido F. Pauli, Kenneth E. Palmer, The National COVID Cohort Collaborative Consortium, David O. Meltzer, Glenn Randall and Marsha Rich Rosner, Cannabidiol Inhibits SARS-CoV-2 Replication through Induction of the Host ER Stress and Innate Immune Responses Science Advances (2022), DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abi6110
Basically, science has spoken. You have in vitro data, you have mouse data, and you have clinical trial data even, plus the authors are none other but “The National COVID Cohort Collaborative Consortium“, basically it’s like an official NIH approval! And it’s published in a Science-themed journal. Light up your bong now and watch this video of Dr Rosner saving the world.
You might think the scientists got bored with the pandemic and are competing for the funniest, silliest and clickbaitiest COVID-19 cure? Didn’t you know, CBD products are a huge online market already? Biggest crooks like Gideon Koren are into it, making serious money selling CBD oils for all possible diseases.
News in Tweets
- How the science authorities decided that COVID-19 must have began at the wet market in Wuhan. They used the most modern hyper-science high tech of Adobe Illustrator to extract data points from a graph image provided by the Chinese government. And now Science, Nature, Cell and Lancet tell you to better believe that SARS-CoV2 zoonotically jumped from seafood to market vendors, or they will drum you out of science as a conspiracy theorist.
- In Netherlands, University of Groningen (UCG) professor Tjeerd Andringa was banned from teaching antivaxxery, climate change denialism, antisemitism and QAnon theories about paedophilia parties run by world’s elites (who is surprised those views go together?). All this he taught as a course on scientific thinking, where Andringa didn’t allow students any opposition to his views. “The board of the UCG knew about Andringa’s teaching and beliefs. Still, they allowed him to discuss conspiracy theories with freshmen. The fact that he was a physicist and not a philosopher or sociologist who taught about social systems and critical thinking was apparently not a problem either.” (UKrant, in Dutch)
- Also in the Netherlands, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam shuts down its Centre for Human Rights because it was payrolled by China while its professors extolled Chinese policies and denied Uyghur human right abuses. China protests: “Often reports in the Western media are based on rumors and misinformation. If these reports are true, we would like to know whether academic freedom at a university with ‘freedom’ in its name can be held hostage by politics.“ (NOS, read backstory here, in Dutch).
- Leen Kawas, forced to resign as CEO of the biotech company she co-founded, is now teaching women how to succeed. By faking your entire PhD and then pushing an Alzheimer’s drug into clinical trials based on your fraudulent research? Read Kawas’ and Athira Pharma’s story here.
- Elisabeth Bik investigates industrial-scale plagiarism at IntechOpen.
- Papermills are testing how far they can troll allegedly respectable publishers like Wiley (to be fair, it is in the Journal of the Chinese Chemical Society).
- Is everything in the mTOR field fake? Are they all cheaters? Question about Harvard professor Brendon Manning answered:
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There is now a petition in support of Adam, demanding he is immediately installed as rector because the investigation was evil and he is a science genius.
Funny, how many Adam’s fraudulent papers’ co-authors signed the petition (only students and employees of MendelU can sign). However, the bulk of signatures (from the incredible overall number of 200) are people from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, which is for several years led by V. Adam and it also was a playground of R. Kizek. If any workplace, besides Adam’s research group at CEITEC, needs a control audit, it’s this one.
This amateur signature campaign? Pah.
Look how the University of Ferrara petitioned for research fraud and fascism.
Look how CNRS petitioned for research fraud plus the sacking of a Le Monde journalist.
I’m afraid people are forced to sign.
Did someone take their loved ones hostage?
No kidding. Its sorta antichart.
Maybe academia’s main problem is not the research fraud, but complacency and chickenshittery.
I understand why Adam’s co-authors and his dependents sign the petition. These people either engaged in fraud themselves, or wilfully allowed fraud to happen to advance their academic careers. They have vested interests regarding Adam and Kizek.
But the rest? What is in there for them? What do they fear will happen to them if they just don’t sign?
Sorry, I attempted sarcasm, it should have been written as “incredible” number of signatures. The petition is silly. Anyway, the website of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry says, that it has over 100 employees. Many of them, including senior members and research group leaders, authored the problematic papers. Some of them were mentioned in the Moravian Rhapsody, some not. Adam is currently in the spotlight, but the fraud and trashy publishing looks more like a teamwork. We have a populated department united in the debasing of apparent fraud and misconduct. These people have been raising the new generation of scientists and pass their toxic ways to them.
“I am now an even bigger fan of Czechia than I was before”
I am raising a glass of good lager to the Czech lands even now!
Given the petition in defense of Adam organized by some people from MendelU, it might be a craft lager full of diacetyl just like we all love here.
Wrt Vojtech Adam, I liked the following sentence in their report: “Given the superficial nature of the editorial processes, the Committee recommends to disregard the errata that these publishers so easily accepted.”
That’s why I stopped writing to editors and now try with universities.
Celé vyjádření Vojtěcha Adama najdete zde.
Celé vyjádření Danuše Nerudové najdete zde.
Key points from Adam’s statement:
“My goal was from the beginning to look for and correct mistakes, even if it was a simple and in fact a legitimate way point out the members of my team who were in charge of the given work segments. Still, I didn’t
I won’t even do it. I believe in a team, which is why I accept my share of responsibility for mistakes.”
Meaning: I am an innocent martyr saint who took the sins of others upon himself.
In any case, I wish Prof Adam a swift recovery from COVID-19 which he says rendered him defenceless against baseless attacks by his university and the media. He might use the occasion to contemplate an alternative career.
Key point from Nerudova’s statement:
“I fully respect the independence of the Academic Senate, and therefore its decision not to deduce from the report of the Ethics Committee the next steps. However, I consider the conclusions of the commission to be serious and incompatible with the function of the rector. That’s why after the meeting of the academic senate on January 26, I asked prof. Adam to consider resignation.”
It seems the Senate took Adam’s side which is probably why he insisted to be appointed as rector. We must be grateful to Prof Nerudova not only for initiating and conducting a proper misconduct investigation, but also for preventing this scheduled travesty from happening.
A lesson especially to all her peers at the University of Ferrara who decided to openly side with fraud and oppression.
Why is this in Academia they are never responsible? As the head of the lab, EVEN if there is a rogue scientist in your team who deceives you (which happens, as far as I know in the infamous STAP cells fraud, the PIs were deceived), you ARE responsible. Of course you are allowed to defend yourself and there is a difference betweem actively cheating and failing to detect fraud in your team. But is there actually a situation where as a head/PI/boss, you can be “not responsible”? So we have either PIs refusing to be accountable, or PIs going to the extreme, like in the STAP cell fraud when he committed suicide.
Charles Vacanti most definitely wasn’t deceived by Haruko Obokata. He and his brothers are all cheating regemed scammers.
As for Yoshiki Sasai’s suicide: there may have been other reasons than Obokata’s fake science alone. Things which are normal in US labs are a disgrace in Japanese ones.