Guest post Research integrity

Prof Elizalde’s Magic Cancer Research at CONICET

"No matter if the data behind medical protocols and oncological treatments are imaginary! Since science is long dead, we can always rely on the haruspices." - Aneurus Inconstans

Aneurus Inconstans, a plant scientist by background, wandered into cancer research, wide-eyed and excited like a child into a toy store. Everything he touches brings immense joy of discovery to our data integrity sleuth. Everything is beautifully fake and excitingly fraudulent.

After his recent Sicilian adventure, follow Aneurus now to the little visited aisle of Argentinian cancer research. A fairy-tale world inside a CONICET lab in Buenos Aires whose trainees move on to USA to do great science at Weill Cornell.

Magic in cancer research: yet another case from Argentina

By Aneurus Inconstans

Cancer researcher Patricia Virginia Elizalde is principal investigator at the Instituto de Biología y Medicina Experimental (IBYME) in Buenos Aires, an institute that belongs to CONICET, the National Scientific and Technical Research Council of Argertina. IBYME was founded in 1944 by the Nobel Prize winner Bernardo Houssay and enjoys a certain reputation. Its former director, as well as former president of the whole CONICET, was Elizalde’s mentor, the late Eduardo Charreau, a bigwig of cancer research in South America. Among 52 original research articles authored by Dr Elizalde and her collaborators (many with Charreau on), 16 (a third) are now flagged on PubPeer for issues hard to explain with random errors. The rest doesn’t inspire much confidence either, but in many (too many) suspicious blots the proverbial “smoking gun” wasn’t found. None of the authors replied to any thread on PubPeer as of today.

Dr Elizalde became senior tenured scientist at IBYME in 1994 and troubles arose as early as 2001, when she was aiming to get promoted to principal scientist, which then happened in 2006. The time span of the problematic articles is 20+ years and up to the present day.

The Elizalde lab works on breast cancer, and in particular on the receptor tyrosine kinase ErbB-2/HER2. ErbB-2 overexpression is a trademark of a breast cancer subtype, namely ErbB-2-enriched (ErbB-2E). The Elizalde lab allegedly contributed to demonstrate that ErbB-2 migrates to the nucleus of ErbB-2E breast cancer cells where it binds promoters of target genes and functions as a transcription factor to promote breast cancer growth. Another line of research carried out in this lab is on triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), defined by lack of expression of both estrogen and progesterone receptors as well as ErbB-2. The Elizalde lab apparently developed a vaccination protocol based on the serial injection of breast cancer cells – whose oncoprotein Stat3 was previously blocked -that was able to inhibit TNBC growth in mice, as stated on the lab website.

Here are two problematic works from 2001, the time when data digitalization and the spread of Photoshop use came into play in each laboratory:

Balañá ME, Labriola L, Salatino M, Movsichoff F, Peters G, Charreau EH, Elizalde PV* Activation of ErbB-2 via a hierarchical interaction between ErbB-2 and type I insulin-like growth factor receptor in mammary tumor cells Oncogene (2001) doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1204050 (*corresponding author)

The IGF-IR Western blot of Figure 4 is the same one published two years before in Figure 6 of Balañá et al. 1999, which allegedly shows Erb-B3 signal after immuno-precipitation. The experiment type, the treatments involved and the detected protein are all different, this is why a picture reuse due to files mislabelling seems unlikely. Was that just a mistake by the first author Maria Eugenia Balaña, now senior scientist at ICT-CONICET (Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología César Milstein), or was instead the beginning of the history of fraudulent shortcuts taken by this lab?

More serious and not explainable by an accidental event is the patchwork of bands found in Figure 3 of the following paper, published in a Spandidos Publications (!) journal. Dr Elizalde is just a middle author here, while the first and corresponding author is María Giselle Peters, now group leader at the Instituto de Oncología Ángel H. Roffo in Buenos Aires:

Peters MG*, Vanzulli S, Elizalde PV, Charreau EH, Goin MM. Effects of antiprogestins RU486 and ZK98299 on the expression of cell cycle proteins of a medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA)-induced murine mammary tumor Oncol Rep (2001) doi: 10.3892/or.8.2.445

Dr Peters published only 11 papers in total, and 5 are flagged in PubPeer with outrageous fabrications. A heck of a ratio. She published very fake stuff also without Elizalde actually, please have a look at Stigliano et al. 2009 or Fernandez et al. 2018 for instance, but the following one is probably the worst:

Buchanan C, Stigliano I, Garay-Malpartida HM, Rodrigues Gomes L, Puricelli L, Sogayar MC, Bal de Kier Joffé E, Peters MG* Glypican-3 reexpression regulates apoptosis in murine adenocarcinoma mammary cells modulating PI3K/Akt and p38MAPK signaling pathways Breast Cancer Res Treat (2010) doi: 10.1007/s10549-009-0362-9

Figure 2A
Figure 2B
Figure 3A
Figure 2E
Figure 4A

Going back to Elizalde’s wizardry, now come a number of articles published between 2005-2010, the time when fraud in science really became pandemic. You will admire how this group dropped all hesitations and inhibitory restraint by making up Western blots on a much larger scale. The Elizalde lab even passed peer-review in the respected journal Molecular & Cellular Biology on three occasions with massive data fabrication. Here below the first Mol Cell Biol paper, analyzed by the anonymous PubPeer commenter Fuscopannaria mediterranea, brace yourself:

Proietti C, Salatino M, Rosemblit C, Carnevale R, Pecci A, Kornblihtt AR, Molinolo AA, Frahm I, Charreau EH, Schillaci R, Elizalde PV* Progestins induce transcriptional activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3) via a Jak- and Src-dependent mechanism in breast cancer cells Mol Cell Biol (2005) doi: 10.1128/MCB.25.12.4826-4840.2005

Figure 2A
Figures 3A and 3B
Figure 2B
Figure 8D
Figure 9B

First author Cecilia Jazmín Proietti, adjunct investigator at IBYME, co-authored 14 problematic papers with Elizalde and seems to be the right-hand woman of the boss. After all, it would have been a shame to let such a creative person slip away. Here another milestone by the magical Proietti-Elizalde duo:

Proietti CJ, Rosemblit C, Beguelin W, Rivas MA, Díaz Flaqué MC, Charreau EH, Schillaci R, Elizalde PV* Activation of Stat3 by heregulin/ErbB-2 through the co-option of progesterone receptor signaling drives breast cancer growth Mol Cell Biol (2009) doi: 10.1128/MCB.00853-08

Sesuvium portulacastrum: Figure 1D: More similar than expected
Sesuvium portulacastrum: Figure 1E: More similar than expected
Sesuvium portulacastrum: Figure 2A
Figure 5B
Figure 2B
Figure 6B

These are just some of the problems, as figures 1B, 3D and 6C are equally entertaining (please refer to the PubPeer thread for the whole set).

Yet another one in Mol Cell Biol by Elizalde & Co.:

Béguelin W, Díaz Flaqué MC, Proietti CJ, Cayrol F, Rivas MA, Tkach M, Rosemblit C, Tocci JM, Charreau EH, Schillaci R, Elizalde PV* Progesterone receptor induces ErbB-2 nuclear translocation to promote breast cancer growth via a novel transcriptional effect: ErbB-2 function as a coactivator of Stat3 Mol Cell Biol (2010) doi: 10.1128/MCB.00012-10

The two duplicated bands of pStat3 (red boxes) are set in the middle of two blots which at first glance appear genuine. As you can see, the neighbouring bands on both sides of the red boxes are different from one blot to the other. First author Wendy Béguelin, who is also third author on the disastrous Proietti et al 2009 and boasts 7 papers flagged in PubPeer as of today, is now assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical College in the lab of Ari Melnick. I’ll get back to this point soon.

In the next article Proietti and Béguelin joined forces again to produce some pearls of disguise:

Proietti CJ, Béguelin W, Flaqué MC, Cayrol F, Rivas MA, Tkach M, Charreau EH, Schillaci R, Elizalde PV* Novel role of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 as a progesterone receptor coactivator in breast cancer Steroids (2011) doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2010.12.008

The Bcl-XL mRNA gel of figure 3A and the GAPDH control blot of figure 6B (no GAPDH signal expected as it’s a ChIP) seem to be both genuine at first glance but they are not. All the remaining blots of the article are apparently unproblematic. Are they really?

The Elizalde lab, pompously named Molecular Mechanisms of Carcinogenesis and Molecular Endocrinology, includes another principal investigator (Investigadora Principal), Roxana Schillaci, who shares with Elizalde 14 out of the 16 problematic papers. The following one sees Dr Schillaci as last name and corresponding author. The article includes a countless number of blots all showing bands floating on a homogeneous and flawless background, something reminiscent of those creations produced by papermills, but this is just one aspect of my concerns:

Rivas MA, Carnevale RP, Proietti CJ, Rosemblit C, Beguelin W, Salatino M, Charreau EH, Frahm I, Sapia S, Brouckaert P, Elizalde PV, Schillaci R* TNF alpha acting on TNFR1 promotes breast cancer growth via p42/P44 MAPK, JNK, Akt and NF-kappa B-dependent pathways Exp Cell Res (2008) doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2007.10.005

Figure 2C
Figure 2B
Figure 4A
Figure 3A
Figure 4F

First author Martin Alfredo Rivas (7 papers in PubPeer) is now research associate at Weill Cornell Medical College, curiously in the same lab (Ari Melnick‘s) hosting his former CONICET colleague Wendy Béguelin. From Dr Rivas’ LinkedIn profile we learn he is additionally adjunct assistant professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, at The City University of New York, likely involved in the teaching for the cell and molecular biology course there. An obvious joke comes to mind about that, and I won’t say more.

More magic results on breast cancer research in this article from 2007:

Carnevale RP, Proietti CJ, Salatino M, Urtreger A, Peluffo G, Edwards DP, Boonyaratanakornkit V, Charreau EH, Bal de Kier Joffé E, Schillaci R, Elizalde PV* Progestin effects on breast cancer cell proliferation, proteases activation, and in vivo development of metastatic phenotype all depend on progesterone receptor capacity to activate cytoplasmic signaling pathways Mol Endocrinol (2007) doi: 10.1210/me.2006-0304

Figure 1A
Figure 6D
A band is present in both Figure 6A and 6D, but treatments are different, and the respective neighbouring bands to the left side are different too

I’m not sure there’s even one single pair of adjacent bands in this article that comes from one single continuos blot. No news on what first author Romina Paula Carnevale is up to nowadays, her last publication is dated 2008 and she might have wisely chosen to leave academia.

From 2012 onwards the forgeries in Elizalde’s papers slightly descreased in number, but their seriousness remained unchanged and I speculate the group has just learnt how to build up less obviously fake blots. The next article is from 2013 and has many known names on it:

Díaz Flaqué MC, Galigniana NM, Béguelin W, Vicario R, Proietti CJ, Cordo Russo R, Rivas MA, Tkach M, Guzmán P, Roa JC, Maronna E, Pineda V, Muñoz S, Mercogliano M, Charreau EH, Yankilevich P, Schillaci R, Elizalde PV. Progesterone receptor assembly of a transcriptional complex along with activator protein 1, signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 and ErbB-2 governs breast cancer growth and predicts response to endocrine therapy Breast Cancer Res (2013) doi: 10.1186/bcr3587

Figure 8F and 8G, three sets of p42/p44 MAPK bands appear much more similar than expected (boxes of same color), but cell lines (blue circles) and treatments are different. Of note, the arrangement of the bands is also different, although the two blots look as perfectly continuous blots.

Maria Celeste Díaz Flaqué (6 papers in PubPeer) is currently assistant investigator at the Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas (BIOMED UCA-CONICET).

The three-year period 2015-2017 was very productive for Elizalde, with six publications from her lab, three of which in Oncogene (journal IF 8.7). Five out of six of these articles are now flagged on PubPeer. Please enjoy what they managed to do with Figure 1A (!) in yet another Proietti et al. work, a figure which I believe deserves a full size presentation for the variety of camouflage techniques involved:

Proietti CJ, Izzo F, Díaz Flaqué MC, Cordo Russo R, Venturutti L, Mercogliano MF, De Martino M, Pineda V, Muñoz S, Guzmán P, Roa JC, Schillaci R, Elizalde PV* Heregulin Co-opts PR Transcriptional Action Via Stat3 Role As a Coregulator to Drive Cancer Growth Mol Endocrinol (2015) doi: 10.1210/me.2015-1170

Green: the right band has been beveled on its left side, background and the internal features of bands are identical.
Blue and Orange: simple copy &paste.
Magenta: same band, but brightness is slightly different for both the bands and their background.
Yellow: different brightness just for the bands, BUT the background is identical.
Dark Blue: tilting

From that busy period for the lab comes also Mercogliano et al. 2017, while here below I’ll present you the Oncogene triplet:

Cordo Russo RI, Béguelin W, Díaz Flaqué MC, Proietti CJ, Venturutti L, Galigniana N, Tkach M, Guzmán P, Roa JC, O’Brien NA, Charreau EH, Schillaci R, Elizalde PV* Targeting ErbB-2 nuclear localization and function inhibits breast cancer growth and overcomes trastuzumab resistance Oncogene (2015) doi: 10.1038/onc.2014.272

Co-first author (with Béguelin) Rosalia Ines Cordo Russo (7 papers in PubPeer) is currently adjunct investigator in the Elizalde lab, and the hierarchies seem consolidated: the magic wand will likely be handed down from Elizalde & Schillaci to Proietti & Cordo Russo, from one generation to the next. Abracadabra.

The next two papers, both from 2016, have the same first author:

Venturutti L, Cordo Russo RI, Rivas MA, Mercogliano MF, Izzo F, Oakley RH, Pereyra MG, De Martino M, Proietti CJ, Yankilevich P, Roa JC, Guzmán P, Cortese E, Allemand DH, Huang TH, Charreau EH, Cidlowski JA, Schillaci R, Elizalde PV* MiR-16 mediates trastuzumab and lapatinib response in ErbB-2-positive breast and gastric cancer via its novel targets CCNJ and FUBP1 Oncogene (2016) doi: 10.1038/onc.2016.151

Tubulin bands that are also c-Myc bands or vice versa, or none of the two. Figure 3 of this paper, from which this excerpt comes, is truly impressive and I suggest you to take a look at it. It is composed by a myriad of Western blots with a flawless, smudge-free background.

Venturutti L, Romero LV, Urtreger AJ, Chervo MF, Cordo Russo RI, Mercogliano MF, Inurrigarro G, Pereyra MG, Proietti CJ, Izzo F, Díaz Flaqué MC, Sundblad V, Roa JC, Guzmán P, Bal de Kier Joffé ED, Charreau EH, Schillaci R*, Elizalde PV* Stat3 regulates ErbB-2 expression and co-opts ErbB-2 nuclear function to induce miR-21 expression, PDCD4 downregulation and breast cancer metastasis Oncogene (2016) doi: 10.1038/onc.2015.281

Sesuvium portulacastrum : Fig. 3D: More similar than expected after 180C rotation.

I do agree with commenter Sesuvium portulacastrum on this concern, however, a 180 deg rotation doesn’t explain all. The image Vector 12h has been obtained by deleting the central portion of the image DN3 12h, and then rotated by 180 deg. Here to the right the two images organized vertically to better spot the parts in common.

Leandro Venturutti is now group leader at the BC Cancer Research Centre in Vancouver. Astonishingly, Dr Venturutti has previously worked as research associate at Weill Cornell Medical College, exactly in the same lab where Wendy Béguelin and Matin Rivas are working today, that is to say: the Ari Melnick lab. Obviously Dr Melnick has boundless esteem for Elizalde’s work and for the way she raises her disciples, so he decided to raid IBYME of all its brightest young minds. I wonder what kind of data those people managed to produce in New York, but lots of it got published in Cell, Nature, Cancer Cell, etc, under the supervision of Ari Melnick. Actually Dr Melnick has 6 papers flagged on PubPeer as of today, however, to be fair, he is not lead author on any of them.

Stephanie Hammerich-Hille , Benny A. Kaipparettu , Anna Tsimelzon , Chad J. Creighton , Shiming Jiang , Jose M. Polo , Ari Melnick , Rene Meyer , Steffi Oesterreich SAFB1 mediates repression of immune regulators and apoptotic genes in breast cancer cells The Journal of biological chemistry (2010) doi: 10.1074/jbc.m109.066431
Stephen S. Chung, Eunhee Kim , Jae H. Park , Young Rock Chung , Piro Lito , Julie Teruya-Feldstein , Wenhuo Hu , Wendy Beguelin, Sebastien Monette , Cihangir Duy , Raajit Rampal , Leon Telis , Minal Patel , Min Kyung Kim , Kety Huberman , Nancy Bouvier , Michael F. Berger , Ari M. Melnick, Neal Rosen , Martin S. Tallman , Christopher Y. Park, Omar Abdel-Wahab Hematopoietic Stem Cell Origin of BRAF V600E Mutations in Hairy Cell Leukemia Science Translational Medicine (2014) doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3008004

Seyedmehdi Shojaee , Rebecca Caeser , Maike Buchner , Eugene Park , Srividya Swaminathan , Christian Hurtz , Huimin Geng , Lai N. Chan , Lars Klemm , Wolf-Karsten Hofmann , Yi Hua Qiu , Nianxiang Zhang , Kevin R. Coombes , Elisabeth Paietta , Jeffery Molkentin, H. Phillip Koeffler , Cheryl L. Willman , Stephen P. Hunger , Ari Melnick , Steven M. Kornblau , Markus Müschen Erk Negative Feedback Control Enables Pre-B Cell Transformation and Represents a Therapeutic Target in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Cancer cell (2015) doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2015.05.008
Przemyslaw Juszczynski , Linfeng Chen , Evan O’Donnell , Jose M. Polo , Stella M. Ranuncolo , Riccardo Dalla-Favera , Ari Melnick , Margaret A. Shipp BCL6 modulates tonic BCR signaling in diffuse large B-cell lymphomas by repressing the SYK phosphatase, PTPROt Blood (2009) doi: 10.1182/blood-2009-02-204362
Warren Fiskus , Nakhle Saba , Min Shen , Mondana Ghias , Jinyun Liu , Soumyasri Das Gupta , Lata Chauhan , Rekha Rao , Sumedha Gunewardena , Kevin Schorno , Christopher P. Austin , Kami Maddocks , John Byrd , Ari Melnick , Peng Huang , Adrian Wiestner , Kapil N. Bhalla Auranofin induces lethal oxidative and endoplasmic reticulum stress and exerts potent preclinical activity against chronic lymphocytic leukemia Cancer Research (2014) doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.can-13-2033  

Weill Cornell is certainly not just any place. For Better Science readers may remember what kind of bogus articles its people are capable of. Illustrious examples are the Dean of Weill Cornell Augustine M.K. Choi, the director of the Cancer Center of Weill Cornell Medical College Lewis Cantley, the chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Massimo Loda, and the amazing Andrew Dannenberg, who boasts 19 retractions and retired from Weill Cornell in 2021, and also the immunologists Andrea Cerutti and Paolo Casali, who worked at Weill Cornell from 1997 till 2003 and then moved elsewhere. Most of the evidence of fake dada from these guys was exposed on PubPeer by the image integrity sleuth Clare Francis.

O du lieber Augustine MK Choi

Augustine Choi is Dean of Weill Cornell and a misunderstood genius. He discovered that carbon monoxide is a cure for all possible diseases, just add a bit of Photoshop.

mTOR: conclusions not affected?

David Sabatini, remember that story? Well, it seems the conclusions were not affected. I take an ill-informed look at the mTOR signalling research field, to understand how photoshopped data gets to be independently verified by other labs.

On top of that, it’s equally funny that Weill Cornell Med College is where also Jeffrey Laurence works, the Editor-in-Chief of Translational Research since 2006, who has recently refused to investigate three papers by the mega-fraudster Javier González-Gallego (read here and here) breaking the rules of COPE guidelines. I start to believe it would be worth to comb through the research carried out by all those guys there at Weill Cornell, it could be fun.

Javier suspects everyone!

“If in any case we consider that the problems with the images really affected the validity of the results, we ourselves would ask the corresponding journal to retract the article.” – Prof Javier González-Gallego

Let’s leave the problems in New York aside for now, and go back to Buenos Aires, because troubles aren’t over with Elizalde. As said, forgeries continued up to today, so now come two papers from 2020 and 2022, both first-authored by a PhD student, Santiago Madera:

Madera S, Chervo MF, Chiauzzi VA, Pereyra MG, Venturutti L, Izzo F, Roldán Deamicis A, Guzman P, Dupont A, Roa JC, Cenciarini ME, Barchuk S, Figurelli S, Lopez Della Vecchia D, Levit C, Lebersztein G, Anfuso F, Castiglioni T, Cortese E, Ares S, Deza EG, Gercovich FG, Proietti CJ, Schillaci R, Cordo Russo RI, Elizalde PV* Nuclear PDCD4 Expression Defines a Subset of Luminal B-Like Breast Cancers with Good Prognosis Horm Cancer (2020) doi: 10.1007/s12672-020-00392-4

Young Madera seems to be already following in the footsteps of his predecessors Peters, Proietti, Cordo Russo, Béguelin, Rivas, Venturutti, etc. He is likely the new spearhead of the group, a sort of new Harry Potter at IBYME. So let’s keep an eye on this talented wizard for the next few years, maybe awaiting for Melnick to pick him too.

Madera S, Izzo F, Chervo MF, Dupont A, Chiauzzi VA, Bruni S, Petrillo E, Merin SS, De Martino M, Montero D, Levit C, Lebersztein G, Anfuso F, Roldán Deamicis A, Mercogliano MF, Proietti CJ, Schillaci R, Elizalde PV*, Cordo Russo RI* Halting ErbB-2 isoforms retrograde transport to the nucleus as a new theragnostic approach for triple-negative breast cancer Cell Death Dis (2022) doi: 10.1038/s41419-022-04855-0

Figure 1, a blatant copy & paste that is a poke in the eye, peer-reviewed by a journal from which we can expect nothing but this, the notorious Cell Death & Depravity. And also, what a memorable maiden corresponding authorship for Rosalia Cordo Russo. What more could we want?

Cell Death and Depravity

Is the journal Cell Death and Disease a disease itself, parasitised by Chinese paper mills? Can it be cured? Not with this team of doctors on editorial board.

The years go by, but there is always a new brood of young sorcerer’s apprentices to be initiated into the practices that have been in vogue for decades in the Elizalde lab.

Cancer research is in bad shape like the Alzheimer one, the latter being recently shaken from its foundations after the Lesné scandal. Only difference: cancer research foundations have been shaken since many years already. You may recall the cases of Stuart Aaaronson, Michael Andreev, Marina Konopleva, Alan Ashworth, Katja Lamia, Ronald Khan, Pier Paolo Pandolfi, Robert Weinberg, Anil Sood, Robert Coleman, Raghu Kalluri, Sonia Melo, Bharat Aggarwal, Stacy Blain, Joan Messagué, Michael Karin, Lufen Chang, Gökhan Hotamisligil, Umut Ozcan, Ewan Gallagher, Giuseppina Bonizzi, Roberto Gherzi, Gabriella Santoro, Carlo Croce and many, too many more.

Anil Sood and how much MD Anderson doesn’t care: whistleblowers speak out

My earlier article presented the worrisome research integrity record at the gigantic US cancer research hospital MD Anderson Cancer Center, part of the University of Texas in Houston. Its particular focus was the ovarian cancer researcher Anil Sood, professor of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine and co-director of Center for RNA Interference and Non-Coding RNAs at MD Anderson.…

Suddenly it comes to my mind what years ago a colleague running his own lab told me: he could not reproduce any results published in the previous 10 years by others. Here you go, mate. Hundreds, if not thousands of respected scientists working in top institutions simply fake results, and this happens in any research field. But lift your spirits up! No matter if the data behind medical protocols and oncological treatments are imaginary! Since science is long dead, we can always rely on the haruspices.

PS by LS: I wrote to Elizalde, Peters, Schillaci, Proietti and Melnick. Nobody replied.

Update 1.09.2022

After I lodged a research misconduct notification in Elizalde’s case, the CONICET’s Vice President for Scientific Affairs Mario Pecheny informed me:

in its meeting today, the Board of the CONICET decided to create a small scientific committee, integrated by three senior researchers, to conduct an evaluation of evidence and responsibilities, and to initiate a formal and quick investigation of the affair. “

20 comments on “Prof Elizalde’s Magic Cancer Research at CONICET

  1. We encountered yet another very special character working at Weill Cornell: Fernando J. Martinez, who happens to be also Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
    Likewise Jeffrey Laurence, Martinez refused all action regarding very fraudulent papers from some crooks in Palermo:

    The Cigarette Mob of Palermo

    I was instructed by Dr Martinez to write directly to IRIB-CNR and to a dead corresponding author about those papers. Genius.
    These are too many coincidences for one single institute, Weill Cornell. Way too many.


  2. I’m happy that my tip about Elizalde PV on Javier’s post was worth following! Thanks for the great work again, Aneurus and Leonid. And such a shame (but not surprising…) that you got 0 response from editors/authors

    Liked by 1 person

    Late on Thursday, a collective letter signed by “Ibyme researchers” circulated in which they say they have “contrasted the information [from For Better Science ] with the referenced scientific publications and have confirmed that the analysis is correct, which calls into question evidences the falsification of numerous results over the last 20 years”. In addition, they ask for an “active and urgent attitude regarding the formal investigation of the facts and the conduct that will be taken with respect to those responsible for these regrettable acts.”

    Contacted by , the researcher denied all the accusations: “What has been published in that article is a terrible infamy and totally untrue,” she answered by email. “We have all the evidence on which our work is based and we will present it. Of course it’s about slander and insults “.


  4. Why the authors have not responded to ANY PubPeer thread as of today, if they have “all the evidence” that tha data are genuine?


    En su última reunión del día 31 de agosto del corriente año, el Directorio del CONICET tomó conocimiento de un artículo periodístico en el cual se denuncia un presunto fraude científico por parte de unos/as investigadores/as del Consejo -en datos de unas determinadas publicaciones-. Consecuentemente, en carácter de urgencia ordenó -por unanimidad- que se instruya sumario administrativo de rápido curso, a fin de precisar todas las circunstancias y reunir los elementos de prueba tendientes a esclarecer la comisión de eventuales irregularidades. Asimismo, resolvió conformar un Comité de Expertos/as a fin de que analicen los documentos remitidos y otros, y se expidan sobre los mismos con el objeto de contribuir técnicamente a la investigación ordenada.

    El Directorio del CONICET expresa su profunda preocupación por esta posible comisión de hechos, los cuales considera de suma gravedad, y en consecuencia se dispuso a analizar y tratar el caso con la mayor celeridad y rigurosidad.


  6. NMH, the failed scientist and incel

    That photoshop you did of Dr E is perfect. As a witch/sorcerer, I find her very compelling, if I may say.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: “How can one artifically make this happen?” – For Better Science

  8. Do you have any updates about this investigation CONICET has supposedly started about Dr Elizalde misconduct? It was supposed to be on a fast track (sumario administrativo de rápido curso) but nothing has been informed and the journalist that published what you cited does not seem interested anymore (
    In fact, I’m more worried about her seeds since it seems that for some of them old habits die hard. Have you had any communication with the institutions where Peters, Proietti, Rivas and Beguelin are currently affiliated? I find it weird that a corresponding author manipulates results without first authors knowing and acknowledging. In fact, it seems Peters keep doing it as a leading PI


    • No updates, unfortunately. Sorry.


    • I’ve sent an email to the members of the investigating committee for an update.


    • Hi TodosNos, I got no reply as of today by the committee at CONICET to my email dated 9 Feb 2023. I doubt they will reply at all.
      I realized I hadn’t notified the journals of Elizalde’s paper, I was relying on the apparent willingness by CONICET to investigate. My fault. I have now informed the Editors in Chief and the ethics office on the cases.
      I got a reply by the EiCs only for nine of the papers. Moreover, one reply was by Justin Stebbing, EiC of Oncogene, who is a well known cheater himself. Stebbing replied with a laconic “received” to my notification on the four Ocogene papers by Elizalde. In other words, just 5 papers are likely to be investigated at the moment: three at Mol Cell Biol, one at Steroids, one at Breast Cancer Res Ther.


      • Yet another reply today by Experimental Cell Research regarding Rivas 2008, they are going to investigate.


      • TodosNos

        Thanks for your updates on this case Aneurus. It’s been sixth month since your original posting so I guess CONICET authorities were hoping to sweep it under the carpet.
        It takes no time to prove the accusations of data forgery are groundless if they believe so: just showing any WB that backs up what they published would have been a good starting point.
        The evidence is so compelling that trigger a collective letter from Dr Elizalde’s colleagues in the institution were she has her lab. But it seems they were not as concerned as they tried to show, so maybe the CONICET investigation and that letter were just acting with no real intention of any further action. Dr Pecheny reply finishing with “At CONICET, we are committed to guarantee the ethical and institutional conditions “for better science!” gives me no hope.
        Also thanks for contacting the journals. I guess that tackling the case by reaching out the editors might push CONICET authorities to fuel this otherwise stalled investigation, if the journal editors have some ethical sense and do their jobs
        I’m surprised (well, I’m not) that we haven’t heard anything from the first authors of those papers. As someone posted, no one commented on PubPeer. I wonder how many times they used these papers to build the stories to get new grants, to show in interviews for postdoc positions and so on. They even made it to the newspapers with one of the flagged publications
        Maybe the Susan G. Komen for the Cure have anything to say as they mentioned it funded the research in that publication


    • I finally got a reply from Mario Pecheny on 22 February 2023, which reads:

      Dear Aneurus,
      The investigation process is still in progress, both in academic/scientific and in administrative/institutional terms. We will keep you posted, thanks for your interest. At CONICET, we are committed to guarantee the ethical and institutional conditions “for better science!
      Warm regards,
      Mario Pecheny


  9. TodosNos

    Thanks for your updates on this case Aneurus. It’s been almost sixth month since your original posting so I guess CONICET authorities were hoping to sweep it under the carpet.
    It takes no time to prove the accusations of data forgery are groundless if they believe so: just showing any WB that backs up what they published would have been a good starting point.
    The evidence is so compelling that trigger a collective letter from Dr Elizalde’s colleagues in the institution were she has her lab. But it seems they were not as concerned as they tried to show, so maybe the CONICET investigation and that letter were just acting with no real intention of any further action. Dr Pecheny re”At CONICET, we are committed to guarantee the ethical and institutional conditions “for better science!”

    It may take some time to determine who bears the most of responsibilities, if the students/PhD candidates or the PI.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: