Schneider Shorts of 29 April 2022 – a sexual harasser and his billionaire friends, criminal investigation in Marseille, fake quantum computing in The Netherlands, pandemic corruption in China, apples and bananas, corrections and retractions in need of corrections, and why we mustn’t ask about Global Virology Project.
Table of Discontent
- Sabatini gets a new job! – and why your institutional email account isn’t safe
- Raoult under criminal investigation – ANSM releases report
- Quantum Retraction – but don’t you dare accusing genius Leo Kouwenhoven!
- Lab Leak Cover-up – it’s impolite to talk about what Global Virome Project did in Wuhan
- TCM Conflict of Interests – China’s top COVID-19 authority Zhong Nanshan knows how to get rich
- Run for your telomeres – the faster you walk, the longer they get!
- Apples and bananas – evolutionary psychology of nutritional intelligence!
- Thylacine resurrected! – well, almost. The race is on!
- Wiley corrects a paper – or how to properly send a “f*** you” message
- Unexpected irregularities – a PNAS retraction needs a correction
- Frontiers wants you! – no qualifications needed to be research integrity expert
Sabatini gets a new job!
Currently unemployed sexual predator David Sabatini is about to move to a new pasture. The former star of biomedicine who calls himself mTORman was sacked first by Whitehead Institute and then by MIT for sexual harassment, for which he now sues his victim, Whitehead, and the institute’s recently appointed director Ruth Lehmann.
Science Magazine reported:
“The New York University (NYU) Grossman School of Medicine is in discussions with biologist David Sabatini about hiring him as a faculty member, according to multiple sources at the school. […]
Sources at NYU say the potential Sabatini hire has the backing of NYU medical school dean and CEO Robert Grossman and is being driven by Executive Vice President and Vice Dean for Science Dafna Bar-Sagi. […]
On 21 April, Grossman sent a monthly email to medical school faculty and staff under the heading “Civility Rules.” “A mob feels compelled to stridently ‘cancel’ someone with different thoughts, or to baselessly attack an individual in ways that can be difficult to disprove. … [This is] tolerated in academia, where nameless accusers can disparage a colleague’s science and life’s work, even when their claims are unfounded.” Grossman declined to comment further.”
By the way, the NYU Medical School is named after its dean Robert Grossman on behest of the university’s biggest donor, the billionaire Ken Langone (the university hospital NYU Langone Health, where Grossmann is CEO, is named after him). Langone also acts as chairman of the board of the NYU Medical Center and as vice-chair of the university’s Board of Trustees. So you see what backing Grossman has, and if he wants Sabatini recruited, this will happen. We also learn that:
“Sabatini’s hire may also have support from a benefactor who could make up some of the funding Sabatini lost when HHMI fired him. Billionaire hedge fund founder Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management supports coveted awards for early-career cancer researchers. Both Sabatini and Bar-Sagi are scientific reviewers for the Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research and both attended a 1 March Pershing Square Foundation dinner at Manhattan’s Le Bernardin restaurant. In his remarks, Ackman bemoaned what he called Sabatini’s unfair treatment and said sidelining Sabatini’s work would be detrimental to the field.”
Basically, the decision to recruit Sabatini was made by two billionaires, Langone and Ackman, on whose good will the university’s existence depends. The mighty men think Sabatini is a science genius who as such was entitled to all these women and was unjustly sanctioned for exercising his due rights.
Well, there are some who think Sabatini’s fraudulent research work in mTOR field is in need of not just sidelining, but also retractions.
One aspect which rarely gets mentioned: Sabatini’s father, David Sabatini Senior, is emeritus professor at NYU Langone Health, and he is most likely also pulling the strings there to get his son employed. So now you have 4 very powerful men pushing for this recruitment. To balance it out, they sent 4 women to advertise for Sabatini among the faculty, the argument presumably being, look, women endorse mTORman and these four can vouchsafe he never harassed them!
“More than 100 people stretched across First Avenue in front of the N.Y.U. Medical Center, chanting and holding signs with slogans like “No means no” and “No to Sabatini.” They said they felt betrayed and confused by the possibility that Dr. Sabatini might join their school”
I am sure CEO Grossman has the names of these people and will deal accordingly. He is not to be messed with.
Thing is, NYU Langone Health used to be the former employer of Ruth Lehmann, the current Whitehead Institute director, whom Sabatini is currently suing for helping the victim of his sexual predation. The litigious mTORman supplied the court with an Exhibit K which contains emails between Lehmann and this victim, where the latter asks the former for help to find a new mentor due to problems with Sabatini. Here is one such email:
The emails are associated with Lehmann’s old professional account at NYU, because this German-born researcher was at that time still employed at NYU Langone Health. How did Sabatini get hold of those emails, and apparently even before the MIT/Whitehead investigation begun? I suspect some gross man.
Lesson for all academics trying to fight misconduct: never use your work email account. Google, Apple or Microsoft will never hack your emails and share them with those seeking to sue you, but your university will.
Raoult under criminal investigation
Another grand man of science is in trouble. The chloroquine guru Didier Raoult, soon to be (forcibly) retired as director of IHU Marseille, is facing a criminal persecution (for his other crimes, unrelated to COVID-19 “research”).
The regional medical authority ANSM (Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament et des produits de santé) published its final investigative report and issued a press release (translated):
“At the end of November 2021, we carried out an inspection within the IHU and the AP-HM. The purpose of this was in particular to verify compliance by the IHU and the AP-HM with the legislative and regulatory provisions […]
The inspection revealed breaches of the RIPH regulations carried out within the IHU , in particular with regard to the methods of implementation, the conditions for obtaining and using the samples from people included in research, as well as with the procedures for obtaining consent and informing participants. Ethical rules were systematically not respected, making it impossible to ensure the protection of people at a sufficient level and as required by the regulations.
Given the seriousness of the breaches observed, we have decided to refer the case again to the public prosecutor under article 40 of the code of criminal procedure for the following criminally reprehensible facts:
– implementation of research in the absence of a prior favorable opinion from a committee for the protection of persons within the IHU and the AP-HM;
– communication to the ANSM by the IHU prior to the inspection of a falsified document concerning an opinion of the internal ethics committee of the IHU.
At the same time, we are currently initiating a contradictory procedure with the IHU and the AP-HM:
– on the one hand to suspend the research carried out without requesting an opinion from a committee for the protection of persons prior to their implementation, by means of a health policy decision;
– on the other hand to force the IHU and the AP-HM to comply with the regulations of the RIPH by corrective and preventive actions, by means of an injunction.
Our investigations continue in connection with the IGAS/IGESR mission and regarding the treatment of patients with infectious tuberculosis. […]
We are therefore carrying out additional analyses on all the patients treated over the period 2016-2021. […]
The almost 300 pages long ANSM report is here:
All this may sound tough, but ANSM is obviously unable to obtain the immediate dismissal of Raoult, so he and his gang are free to continue to pull strings, silence witnesses and destroy the evidence.
And of course the Marseille state prosecutor is a friend of Raoult. Currently investigating his criminal complaints against Elisabeth Bik, PubPeer, Alexander Samuel and yours truly.
A Nature paper from the Dutch scientists at TU Eindhoven and TU Delft about quantum computing and superconducting nanowires has been retracted:
Sasa Gazibegovic , Diana Car , Hao Zhang , Stijn C. Balk , John A. Logan , Michiel W. A. De Moor , Maja C. Cassidy , Rudi Schmits , Di Xu , Guanzhong Wang , Peter Krogstrup , Roy L. M. Op Het Veld , Kun Zuo , Yoram Vos , Jie Shen , Daniël Bouman , Borzoyeh Shojaei , Daniel Pennachio , Joon Sue Lee , Petrus J. Van Veldhoven , Sebastian Koelling, Marcel A. Verheijen, Leo P. Kouwenhoven, Chris J. Palmstrøm, Erik P. A. M. Bakkers Epitaxy of advanced nanowire quantum devices Nature (2017) doi: 10.1038/nature23468
The retraction notice from 19 April 2022 states:
“The authors of the paper “Epitaxy of advanced nanowire quantum devices”1 wish to retract this work. When preparing the underlying data for public release2, it was discovered that some data had been inappropriately deleted or cropped when preparing the final published figures, and we promptly alerted the editors of Nature. We found unjustified data removal and cropping in Figures 4a and c, and Extended Data Figures 7 and 8, which affect the agreement between the theoretical curves and the experimental data and the claims of ballistic transport. We are accordingly retracting the paper. The authors stand by all the other data, and their contribution to advanced nanowire quantum devices. All authors have agreed to this retraction.”
The authors claimed to have confirmed the existence of so-called Majorana fermions, particles predicted by Italian physicist Ettore Majorana in 1937.
De Volkskrant reports that this was not the first case of a mysterious data fudgery in that lab (translated):
“Similar problems came to light last year with another Nature article from 2018 by the same group of researchers. In it, they thought they had demonstrated the majorana particles, which in theory exhibit special quantum behaviour, for the first time. The Majorana hunt brought Kouwenhoven scientific world fame, which was a reason for Microsoft to hire him and set up a special Delft lab. King Willem Alexander came to open it in person in 2019. However, the publication from 2018 ended when two former Kouwenhoven employees showed that the evidence was buttery soft. They were also critical of the 2017 article, which contributed to its withdrawal this week.
It is unclear how the errors arose. In 2018, experts concluded that tunnel vision was not intentional. A quantum computer that runs on majoranas also seems a long way off now. Kouwenhoven unexpectedly left Microsoft last month, according to the tech giant, because the research will be approached differently.”
Well, who cares if the data was falsified. The conclusions remain unaffected for some:
“Quantum professor Christian Schönenberger (University of Basel), not involved in the research, calls the withdrawal unnecessary and even ‘wrong’ when asked. Yes, he says, it is unacceptable that pieces of data have been wrongly omitted to polish the results, but that could have been solved with an article adjustment. “They also do not detract from the exceptional quality of the nanowires. That is a great achievement that deserves a Nature publication. There seems to be too much propaganda going around at the moment, especially aimed at Leo Kouwenhoven.'”
My advise is to check Schönenberger’s own papers, you never know with such attitude. And as it usually happens with research misconduct, the bad practices were reported by former employees who blew the whistle:
“Sergey Frolov and Vincent Mourik, the former employees of Kouwenhoven who were the first to discover the problems with the majoranas, think the withdrawal is justified. Frolov: ‘I also worked with these nanowires from Eindhoven in my research group in Pittsburgh. Most are actually far from nearly perfect, contrary to what is claimed in the article. The measurement data that we have seen confirm this, but not all of them have been made public.'”
Oh dear, who might have faked all this data? Retraction Watch illustrates their take on the affair the photo of Ettore Majorana, maybe his restless ghost did it?
“In March 2021, the group retracted a Nature paper. That was followed by an expression of concern for related work in Science in July, and another expression of concern in Science in December.”
There seem to be even more unreliable quantum computing papers by Frolov’s and Mourik’s former boss Koewenhoven:
Predictably, the university was not keen to open a research misconduct investigation against their professor Kouwenhoven, Retraction Watch quotes Mourik:
“We notified the integrity committee of Delft University of Technology as early as 1 June 2020 of the suspected problems with this and multiple other articles, in the context of the investigation into the retracted Nature 2018 paper which was then just commencing. However, Jeroen van den Hoven, the chairman of that committee, refused to investigate any additional paper, withheld our evidence from that investigation, and refused to facilitate data sharing, greatly delaying our ability to independently investigate this paper. Failure to share data was supported by the highest leader at Delft University of Technology, Rector Magnificus Tim van der Hagen, with the effect of downplaying the scope and severity of the unreliable research articles. “
Ask me if I am surprised.
As it happens, one of the three €1 Billion heavy EU FET Flagships, next to Human Brain Project and Graphene, is about Quantum computing. Expect amazing breakthrough achievements from the Quantum Flagship as well. Especially since Kouwenhoven’s Quantum Delft (“In 2012, professor Leo Kouwenhoven further ignited the revolution by showing signatures of the existence of the Majorana, a particle that is also its own anti-particle“) is part of the Quantum Flagship.
Lab Leak Cover-up
UnHerd brings an investigation by Prasenjit Ray (known on Twitter as lab leak sleuth The Seeker) and journalist Matt Ridley, who also co-wrote the book Viral with the geneticist and lab leak investigator Alina Chan.
The UnHerd story is about the so-called Global Virome Project, set up in 2016 with big fanfares, and when the COVID-19 pandemic started, it suddenly went silent, its website a “zombie”:
“The seeds of the project were sown between 2009 and 2019, when the US government funded a big push into virus hunting in wildlife in tropical regions through a programme called PREDICT. When this funding came to an end, the main players got together to seek private and charitable funding to continue the work. These included, from government, Dennis Carrol, director of the Emerging Pandemic Threats Division within the United States Agency for International Development; from academia, Jonna Mazet of the University of California at Davis, who had been director of the PREDICT project; from the non-profit world, Peter Daszak, head of the EcoHealth Alliance, who became treasurer of the new project; and from the private sector, Nathan Wolfe, founder of the DNA database firm Metabiota.”
The hub for the global hunt for emerging viral threats was to be China, specifically the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV):
“In a cable from September 2017, Ping Chen, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases office in the US embassy in Beijing, had reported that the China part of the project was being funded by grants from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), China’s leading coronavirus virologist, was quoted in the cable as saying: “CAS has already allocated funding for GVP-related research”.[…]
Sure enough in January 2018, Shi Zhengli received two research grants, one each from NSFC and CAS to study the risk of cross infection of humans by bat-borne SARS-like coronaviruses. It appears the Wuhan Institute had already been entrusted with the main work of the China National Virome Project.”
The scientists had great plans:
“Meanwhile, in March 2018, the EcoHealth Alliance, WIV and others had submitted a joint proposal to DARPA, the Pentagon’s research funding agency. It included a section in which the researchers detailed plans to introduce a genetic sequence called a furin cleavage site into novel SARS-like viruses to increase their ability to infect cells in the laboratory and make them easier to grow. This is the very sequence that has turned up in the virus causing Covid, and in no other SARS-like coronavirus.
The proposal, titled DEFUSE, was turned down by DARPA. Shortly after, however, a “Special Project” was initiated by the CAS with Shi Zhengli in charge for one of the subprojects. The scope largely corresponds and overlaps with the GVP and Project DEFUSE.”
The WIV scientists were “working with full-length infectious clones, manipulating their spike genes, creating “chimera” hybrids and testing their infectiousness in human cells and humanised mice“, and they may have succeeded with finding a dangerous pathogen way beyond their expectations, the rest is history still happening. As a reminder, the WIV virus database was taken offline in September 2019 and never released to anyone since. No viral sequences obtained at WIV after 2016 have been published or leaked otherwise.
The total secrecy is happening not just on the Chinese side:
“Yet far from drawing back because of the data-sharing concerns, in November 2018, Dr Ping Chen of the US Embassy in Beijing sent an email to the National Institutes of Health in the United States detailing proposals for America to share the cost of China’s virus hunting projects. In the version obtained by Judicial Watch under Freedom of Information, most of the email has been redacted, as has most of an attached presentation from July 2019 by the Ecohealth Alliance entitled “Working Towards a China-led Virome project”. What is in these documents, prepared about a year before the pandemic broke out in the city with the most active contribution to the GVP, and caused by a virus of the kind being most actively studied by that project? It would be nice to know.”
The UnHerd article ends with:
“For some reason, professional journalists have shown little appetite for investigating the GVP since the pandemic began, arguing that it was still just an idea, not yet in operation, which is true outside China. […]
As for the China National Virome Project, almost nothing has been heard of it in the past two years, as if it never existed. The Global Virome Project has also largely evaporated. Both were designed to predict and prevent the next pandemic, a task at which plainly they failed: the research was a year and a half in the making and provided no benefit when the Covid pandemic began. That this work might instead have caused the pandemic is a possibility that must be investigated.”
TCM conflict of interests
Financial Times reports:
“One of China’s top government health officials has repeatedly promoted Covid-19 remedies included in Beijing’s official treatment protocol for the disease without disclosing his links with the manufacturers.
Epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan was appointed to head an expert group at the National Health Commission, the body responsible for formulating China’s health policy, at the start of the pandemic and is considered a hero in the country after managing the Sars epidemic in 2003.
The NHC publishes an official protocol that advises on Covid treatments and medicines that is regarded as the treatment “bible” by doctors and local governments across China, according to Jin Dong-Yan, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong.
But Zhong has close ties to the companies behind some of the treatments, which he has promoted in scientific journals and in public talks without mentioning these relationships.”
Zhong just happens to be the director of this TCM company, a COI he never discloses in his research papers:
“Xuebijing, a traditional Chinese medicine made by Shenzhen-listed Tianjin Chase Sun Pharmaceutical, was added to the NHC’s protocol for treating Covid in January 2020. The company’s share price has subsequently risen about 48 per cent, boosting its stock market capitalisation by Rmb6bn ($919mn).
According to an article from the newspaper of the Chinese Medical Doctor Association, the leading professional body, Xuebijing was included in the NHC’s treatment protocol after Zhong proposed to research its effectiveness.”
Zhong, via his personal foundation, is also on a payroll of another TCM company, Yiling Pharma, and the benefits are mutual:
“Zhong has also extolled the benefits of another traditional Chinese medicine, Lianhua Qingwen, which was added to the official protocol on January 27 as a Covid treatment.
The treatment is made by Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical, a Shenzhen-listed company whose stock has since risen about 146 per cent, buoying its market capitalisation by more than Rmb26bn.”
My readers might recall this company which bribed a Welsh University by sponsoring a fraudulent TCM professor:
What with Yiling money at stake in Cardiff, no research misconduct was found:
Of course Zhong has more lucrative business involvements, because this is how Chinese socialism works:
“Zhong has also recommended the use of a nebuliser made by Asclepius Meditec, a Chinese device maker, that helps patients to inhale a mix of hydrogen and oxygen to treat coronavirus. The treatment was added to the official protocol in March 2020.
Zhong is an official adviser to the company and his endorsement is used in its advertising for the product.
He co-authored a paper in June 2020 in the Journal of Thoracic Disease, where he is editor-in-chief, that found there were clinical benefits in using Asclepius Meditec’s device but did not disclose his links to the company.
Zhong co-authored a separate paper in the journal Engineering in October 2020 which stated that studies he co-wrote on Lianhua Qingwen and the nebuliser were reasons for their inclusion in China’s official treatment protocol. Zhong did not declare that he is an official adviser to the company.”
Run for your telomeres
A press release by University of Leicester in UK:
“A new study of genetic data published today (Wednesday) of more than 400,000 UK adults has revealed a clear link between walking pace and a genetic marker of biological age.
Confirming a causal link between walking pace and leucocyte telomere length (LTL) – an indicator of biological age – the Leicester-based team of researchers estimate that a lifetime of brisk walking could lead to the equivalent of 16 years younger biological age by midlife.
Researchers from the University of Leicester at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre studied genetic data from 405,981 middle-aged UK Biobank participants and found that a faster walking pace, independent of the amount of physical activity, was associated with longer telomere.”
See how useful the UK Biobank database can be? Now you know that your telomeres stretch as you walk!
Here is the paper:
Paddy C. Dempsey , Crispin Musicha , Alex V. Rowlands , Melanie Davies , Kamlesh Khunti , Cameron Razieh , Iain Timmins , Francesco Zaccardi , Veryan Codd , Christopher P. Nelson , Tom Yates , Nilesh J. Samani Investigation of a UK biobank cohort reveals causal associations of self-reported walking pace with telomere length. Commun Biol (2022). doi: 10.1038/s42003-022-03323-x
The corresponding author Paddy Dempsey, who self-describes as “a multidisciplinary medical research scientist“, is quoted in the press release:
“This research uses genetic data to provide stronger evidence for a causal link between faster walking pace and longer telomere length. Data from wrist-worn wearable activity tracking devices used to measure habitual physical activity also supported a stronger role of habitual activity intensity (e.g. faster walking) in relation to telomere length.
This suggests measures such as a habitually slower walking speed are a simple way of identifying people at greater risk of chronic disease or unhealthy ageing, and that activity intensity may play an important role in optimising interventions. For example, in addition to increasing overall walking, those who are able could aim to increase the number of steps completed in a given time (e.g. by walking faster to the bus stop). However, this requires further investigation.“
This is so clever. Now we know why walking is healthy for you: it stretches your telomeres! And the faster you walk, the longer they get and the longer you will live. Just don’t run too fast, or you’ll stumble over those long telomeres.
Apples and bananas
More genius discoveries from England. Here a press release from University of Bristol:
“Pioneering research has shed new light on what drives people’s basic food preferences, indicating our choices may be smarter than previously thought and influenced by the specific nutrients, as opposed to just calories, we need.
The international study, led by the University of Bristol (UK), set out to re-examine and test the widely-held view that humans evolved to favor energy dense foods and our diets are balanced simply by eating a variety of different foods. Contrary to this belief, its findings revealed people seem to have “nutritional wisdom,” whereby foods are selected in part to meet our need for vitamins and minerals and avoid nutritional deficiencies.
Lead author Jeff Brunstrom, Professor of Experimental Psychology, said: “The results of our studies are hugely significant and rather surprising. For the first time in almost a century, we’ve shown humans are more sophisticated in their food choices, and appear to select based on specific micronutrients rather than simply eating everything and getting what they need by default.””
Here this hugely significant publication:
Jeffrey M. Brunstrom and Mark Schatzker, Micronutrients and food choice: A case of ‘nutritional wisdom’ in humans?, Appetite (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2022.106055
And here is how sophisticated this evolutionary psychology study of fresh fruit was:
“In total 128 adults participated in two experiments. The first study showed people prefer certain food combinations more than others. For example, apple and banana might be chosen slightly more often than apple and blackberries. Remarkably, these preferences appear to be predicted by the amounts of micronutrients in a pair and whether their combination provides a balance of different micronutrients.”
What about apples and oranges? Apples and pears? Apples and Durian fruit?
We also learn:
“Professor Brunstrom’s co-author is Mark Schatzker, a journalist and author, who is also the writer-in-residence at the Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center, affiliated with Yale University. In 2018, the two met in Florida at the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, where Schatzker delivered a talk about his book, The Dorito Effect, which examines how the flavor of whole foods and processed foods has changed, and the implications for health and wellness.”
We also learn that two women did the work (“We thank Annika Flynn and Emily Jowett for their assistance with data collection“) but did not qualify as authors, and that “The authors have no conflicts to declare” but you can buy Schatzker’s book:
You sure know of the MIT genius George Church in USA, who, using nothing but CRISPR technology and his enormous brain, already de-extincted woolly mammoths, dinosaurs and Neanderthals. Well, he is almost there, give him some more millions.
Meanwhile, in Australia Andrew Pask announced to use someone’s money to de-extinct the famed marsupial Tasmanian tiger or Tasmanian wolf or the thylacine (the last of which died in captivity in 1936), and whose genome Pask’s lab has previously sequenced.
Here the university’s press release:
“The University of Melbourne is establishing a world-class research lab for de-extinction and marsupial conservation science thanks to a $5 million philanthropic gift.
The gift will be used to establish the Thylacine Integrated Genetic Restoration Research (TIGRR) Lab, led by Professor Andrew Pask […]
“Our research proposes nine key steps to de-extinction of the thylacine. One of our biggest breakthroughs was sequencing the thylacine genome, providing a complete blueprint on how to essentially build a thylacine.” […]
“The tools and methods that will be developed in the TIGRR Hub will have immediate conservation benefits for marsupials and provide a means to protect diversity and protect against the loss of species that are threatened or endangered,” Professor Pask said.
“While our ultimate goal is to bring back the thylacine, we will immediately apply our advances to conservation science, particularly our work with stem cells, gene editing and surrogacy, to assist with breeding programs to prevent other marsupials from suffering the same fate as the Tassie tiger.”
The donation comes from the Wilson Family Trust. Mr Russell Wilson said the story of the thylacine and its unceremonious exit from this world really touched his family.”
The de-extinction race is on! Because journalists and other non-experts in bioengineering are convinced the de-extinction of mammoths, thylacines, velociraptors and megalodons must be perfectly doable because science makes everything possible, right, they now discuss the practical sides. Some ecologists weigh in:
Joseph R. Bennett , Richard F. Maloney , Tammy E. Steeves , James Brazill-Boast , Hugh P. Possingham , Philip J. Seddon Spending limited resources on de-extinction could lead to net biodiversity loss. Nat Ecol Evol (2017). doi: 10.1038/s41559-016-0053
Science magazine sums up the concerns:
“The team considered two different scenarios: one in which the government assumes responsibility for the conservation of resurrected species, and another where private companies sponsor the project. In the first scenario, the money needed to maintain the population of resurrected animals comes directly out of the government’s conservation budget, meaning all existing conservation efforts lose some funding. The result, the team calculates, would be an overall loss of biodiversity—roughly two species would go extinct for every one that could be revived.
In the second scenario, where the costs are absorbed by private interests and don’t detract from the already limited conservation budget, the researchers calculate that we could see a small uptick in biodiversity…”
Thank god billionaires are there to protect and to resurrect the wildlife.
Wiley corrects a paper
I really don’t know what is happening with the publisher Wiley. They suddenly got the concept of research integrity backwards and began to openly defend research fraud, including for obvious papermill fabrications. There are also bizarre corrections, like this one, which seems like trolling.
Ya‐ping Jiang , Ya‐ling Tang, Sha‐sha Wang , Jia‐shun Wu , Mei Zhang , Xin Pang , Jing‐biao Wu , Yu Chen , Ya‐Jie Tang , Xin‐hua Liang PRRX1‐induced epithelial‐to‐mesenchymal transition in salivary adenoid cystic carcinoma activates the metabolic reprogramming of free fatty acids to promote invasion and metastasis Cell Proliferation (2020) doi: 10.1111/cpr.12705
On 30 September 2021, Wiley issued this Correction:
“In Jiang et al.,1 the following errors were published on page 10.
In the original version of this published article, the authors mistakenly used the bands of DNA ladder from the vector group of Src-Stat5 combination capacity detection as a ruler, to match the band position of DNA fragments extracted by ChIP in other three groups, which were the same batch experiments. After repeating the experiments, the authors obtained the correct data and the correct versions of Figure 5B and 5C are shown below.”
Yes, the replacement gels are four empty black squares. This is “the correct data and the correct versions” obtained “after repeating the experiments” which “does not change the result and conclusion“. A big F*** You from Wiley to everyone.
For more of Wiley’s fraud endorsing, read here:
A paper in PNAS was retracted after a research misconduct investigation by the University of Glasgow. There is a funny aspect to that retraction though, Clare Francis found.
George S. Baillie, Arvind Sood , Ian McPhee , Irene Gall , Stephen J. Perry , Robert J. Lefkowitz , Miles D. Houslay β-Arrestin-mediated PDE4 cAMP phosphodiesterase recruitment regulates β-adrenoceptor switching from G s to G i Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2003) doi: 10.1073/pnas.262787199
The paper was flagged on PubPeer in April 2020, and the retraction note from 26 April 2022 went:
“The undersigned authors note the following, “We were informed by the University of Glasgow Research Integrity Council that, as part of a larger investigation of anomalies in a series of papers from one of their laboratories, it was found that lanes 2 and 3 of Fig. 4C are identical. While the data in this figure panel were obtained in myocardial cells, which are the sole focus of Fig. 4, the University of Glasgow did not identify irregularities in any other data presented in the paper, including the data obtained with HEK cells, which constitute the remainder of the data in the paper (Figs. 1–3). Nonetheless at the request of the University of Glasgow the paper is being retracted. We offer our apologies to the scientific community for any inconvenience this may have caused.” George S. Baillie, Arvind Sood, Ian McPhee, Stephen J. Perry, and Robert J. Lefkowitz”
But maybe, just maybe, the University of Glasgow did not look close enough, because, look, there are irregularities with Figure 3 and the data with HEK cells:
The last author Miles Houslay, who did not support the retraction, left Glasgow in the wake of the misconduct investigation as Retraction Watch reported, referencing Clare Francis. He now focusses on his biotech business and holds a visiting professor affiliation at King’s College London. The first author, University of Glasgow’s pharmacology professor George Baillie has around 50 papers on PubPeer, and the above is his second retraction, incidentally again with Houslay (here previous one, in JBC). Maybe Baillie needs to be sent off to explore the job market, too?
Frontiers wants you!
World’s bestest Open Access publisher Frontiers, who “are on a mission to make science open so everyone can live healthy lives on a healthy planet“, eventually discovered that their magic AI software AIRA, claimed to fully automatically screen papers for image manipulations, plagiarism, conflicts of interests and everything else, well, that AIRA obviously doesn’t work as advertised (or at all).
So Frontiers seeks to recruit a human research integrity specialist and a research integrity manager to help them write reply emails about COPE guidelines bla-bla and issue corrections for utterly fraudulent papers.
Those are home office jobs. We are informed that the benefits of working for Frontiers are:
- “access to LinkedIn Learning (and Pluralsight for our technology team), an annual personal learning budget, and dedicated L&D time.“
- “free online yoga classes, an employee assistance plan, access to the Headspace app, and four wellbeing days on top of your annual leave allowance.”
- Opportunity to “dedicate three days each year to volunteer for a personal cause or through our volunteering partner platform, Alaya.“
These job postings mention no salary range (maybe yoga classes are enough?), neither do the recruitments list requirements for any degrees, skills or qualifications whatsoever. According to their LinkedIn profiles), other Frontiers research integrity specialists and managers have only a MSc degree (some only have BSc), and no research experience, with the exception of the Head of Research Integrity at Frontiers, Elena Vicario Orri.
But advertisements for same jobs elsewhere do provide more details. The research integrity specialist will mostly “Pre-screen all manuscript submissions across a portfolio of journals or journal sections“, meaning again, that AIRA failed spectacularly. They will also “Investigate high-level post-publication concerns, liaising with internal and external stakeholders“, meaning Frontiers define what kind of fraud is “high-level” enough to be considered, the rest gets ignored outright.
The research integrity manager will “Manage a team of research integrity specialists and monitor their progress towards defined targets” as well as “provide performance feedback and conduct appraisals“. A bullshit job to keep others in lesser-paid bullshit jobs busy, because we all know what kind of fraudulent toxic trash Frontiers publishes.
Frontier also offers “25 annual leave days plus 4 well being days” (the latter probably managed by employer, what fun!). These 25 day may sound generous, but in Switzerland, where Frontiers is based, employees have the legal right for “at least 4 weeks vacation“.
Only those residing in Switzerland, England and Wales, Portugal, Germany and Poland are invited to apply for these remote jobs. No idea why such eclectic choice of countries, but CEO Kamila Markram is Polish.
Smut Clyde is in New Zealand, yet he decided to apply, and I agreed to provide a letter of recommendation. Here is Smut’s application letter:
News in Tweets
- A man tells about his escape from the COVID-19 quarantine insanity in Shanghai. (Coda)
- Cardiologist and whistleblower Peter Wilmshurst (who was sued by pharma industry, and won) blogs about the institutionalised disregard for financial conflicts of interests in UK.
- Court trial for Paolo Macchiarini starts in Sweden.
- “Doctors knew in 1973 that the epilepsy drug sodium valproate posed a risk to unborn children — and ordered that warnings be removed from packets. Almost 50 years and 20,000 disabled babies later, it is still being prescribed to pregnant women” (The Times)
- Look, a new retraction for Carlo Croce. Never mind, the litigious research fraudster with a collection of fake baroque paintings still has his job at Ohio State University, still publishes papers in respected journals, and back home in Italy they still celebrate him as the nation’s greatest cancer researcher.
- The right way to deal with Russian fraud.
- How to be a champion for research ethics and make it known to everyone, by James E. Talmadge (Editor-in-Chief).
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