Schneider Shorts of 14 October 2022 – the mystery past of Dresden rector, a sacked dean in Czechia, a Don’t mess with Texas mega-correction in Nature, concerns expressed for Sicilian nepotist fraudsters, an indignant Weizmann scientist, scamferences legalised in Würzburg, and new fun stories of the Hindawi papermill!
Table of Discontent
- Exosome Business – Mega-Correction because Nature‘s afraid of Raghu Kalluri
- Concerns for Fraud Squad – what are journals to do with Sicily’s biggest fraud gang?
- Strategically plan your research so it’s in line with publishers’ interests – scientists are indignant
- Great Firewall of China – and its pathetic creator who buys from papermills
- Olomouc Theatre – Rector seeking to defend Radek Zboril sacks dean
- Würzburg Medal – the German university where scamferences are allowed
- Bad choices in Dresden – Ursula Staudinger’s mysterious resignation at Columbia
Nature issued a mega-correction for a 7 year-old paper by a zombie scientist Sonia Melo and her cheater ex-boss Raghu Kalluri. The reason why this fake travesty hasn’t been retracted is the unconditional and total support these two receive, Kalluri from his fraud factory MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, and Melo from the entire nation state of Portugal.
Sonia Melo is back, and not to be messed with. The Portuguese zombie scientist is responsible for a number of papers with manipulated data (only one was retracted, Melo et al, Nature Genetics, 2009), saw her EMBO Young Investigator funding withdrawn in 2016, but was whitewashed and reinstalled by her employing institute Instituto de Investigação e…
Here is the paper:
Sonia A. Melo , Linda B. Luecke , Christoph Kahlert , Agustin F. Fernandez , Seth T. Gammon , Judith Kaye , Valerie S. LeBleu , Elizabeth A. Mittendorf , Juergen Weitz , Nuh Rahbari , Christoph Reissfelder , Christian Pilarsky , Mario F. Fraga , David Piwnica-Worms , Raghu Kalluri Glypican-1 identifies cancer exosomes and detects early pancreatic cancer Nature (2015) doi: 10.1038/nature14581
It has been debunked years ago already, in a later preprint the authors even admitted to having forged flow cytometry data there, read here:
Is GPC1 from serum exosomes a marker to diagnose pancreatic cancer?
Sonia Melo, the Portuguese cheater scientist and her former US-boss Raghu Kalluri issued some days ago a biorxive preprint, which sole purpose is to defend their discredited Nature paper from 2015. There, they originally claimed to have found a unique biomarker for early pancreatic cancer, a much hailed promise to save lives of many cancer…
That Nature paper was the basis for Kalluri’s biotech start-up Codiak Biosciences (founded together with Eric Lander) which aimed to cure cancer with exosome-based drugs. Codiak raised obscene amounts in investor money, much of it from public sources. We are talking of literally hundreds of million dollars, which means Kalluri probably threatened to sue everyone trying to retract this paper.
So this is a situation where everyone knows the paper is fraudulent bullshit but there was just too much money embezzled from the public and investors hanging on it. Neither Melo nor Kalluri were ever found guilty of research misconduct, except when EMBO withdrew Melo’s Young Investigator award.
Sonia Melo, the Portuguese scientist accused of data manipulation and misconduct, now loses her EMBO Installation Grant funding by the European research agency EMBO. The EMBO funding was of ”50,000 Euros annually for three to five years” for her research lab at the Instituto de Patologia e Imunologia Molecular da Universidade do Porto (Ipatimup) in Portugal, as well as…
Sonia Melo, Portuguese cancer researcher and recipient of the prestigious EMBO Installation Grant, now has her publications investigated by EMBO for suspected image manipulations. Her current and former research institutions are apparently actively avoiding any attempts to scrutinise her papers, some due to very heavy financial conflicts of interest. Yet my information suggests that Melo’s former…
So the Nature editors may have tried to do the right thing, but I’m afraid a multi-million dollar damage lawsuit from Codiak was not something the publisher Springer Nature was prepared to risk. They at least managed to publish a mega-correction, on 5 October 2022:
“We regret several errors in our publication “Glypican-1 identifies cancer exosomes and detects early pancreatic cancer” and wish to correct them and provide below the explanations and corrected figures. These corrections do not alter the interpretation or conclusions of the study.”
Corrected are Figures 1b, 2c, Extended Data Fig. 1c, Fig. 4d, Fig. 4c, d, Extended Data Fig. 6d, Extended Data Fig. 3d, Extended Data Fig. 6a, Extended Data Fig. 7a, plus massive changes in the paper’s results and methods sections as well as in figure legends. The mega-correction also specifically references the 2018 preprint where the authors admitted to forgery of flow cytometry data.
Now Kalluri can go back to making millions of dollars with bullshit cancer cures. Science, pardon Nature has self-corrected, you see.
Concerns for Fraud Squad
Remember Francesco Squadrito, the Sicilian don of data-forging gang at the University of Messina? The Fraud Squad?
Either a Muslim colleague or a retired technician did it. Or so these Sicilian professors insist.
They received from Elsevier in August 2022 two Expressions of Concern, both in the Journal of Vascular Surgery, and about two months after the editorial board were notified by Aneurus inconstans. It was not the first time, the society journal Circulation issued an Expression of Concern previously for Guarini et al 2003.
Salvatore Guarini , Domenica Altavilla , Maria-Michela Cainazzo , Daniela Giuliani , Albertino Bigiani , Herbert Marini , Giovanni Squadrito , Letteria Minutoli , Alfio Bertolini , Rolando Marini , Elena B. Adamo , Francesco S. Venuti , Francesco Squadrito Efferent vagal fibre stimulation blunts nuclear factor-kappaB activation and protects against hypovolemic hemorrhagic shock Circulation (2003) doi: 10.1161/01.cir.0000050627.90734.ed
“Concerns have been raised in a public manner regarding the provenance of data and images in the above-referenced article. The editors are in communication with the authors regarding the integrity of the image data. We are publishing this Expression of Concern while we await the outcome of these communications and to indicate that the data and statements in the article may not be reliable.”
Unfortunately, the other two editorial notices, at Journal of Vascular Surgery, explicitly rule out retractions as a future option. Maybe Squadrito threatened a lawsuit, as he did with me back then:
“…I will instruct my lawyer to sue you on false and slanderous charges. and I will ask for the moral and material damages caused by your superficial and acrimonious action. Francesco Squadrito ””
The Elsevier editors just took the easy route to close the case fast.
Alessandra Bitto , Giovanni De Caridi , Francesca Polito , Margherita Calò , Natasha Irrera , Domenica Altavilla , Francesco Spinelli , Francesco Squadrito Evidence for markers of hypoxia and apoptosis in explanted human carotid atherosclerotic plaques Journal of Vascular Surgery (2010) doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2010.05.116
The Expression of Concern declares:
“The authors have communicated to the journal that original blots are no longer available, given the amount of time that has elapsed since publication. Additionally, the editors believe that any remaining samples are unlikely to be usable at this point. However, since the concerns cannot be decided with certainty, the validity of the data and the conclusions of the paper must be questioned; therefore, the journal does believe the concerns are sufficiently well-founded to support a formal notice alerting the reader to this situation. The concern and this note will remain appended to the above-mentioned article, unless the authors provide the editors of the Journal of Vascular Surgery evidence adequate to allay the above concerns.”
Basically, the editors offer to withdraw the expression of concern if the authors repeat the experiments or something lie that. Same for this paper:
Alessandra Bitto , Francesca Polito , Domenica Altavilla , Letteria Minutoli , Alba Migliorato , Francesco Squadrito Polydeoxyribonucleotide (PDRN) restores blood flow in an experimental model of peripheral artery occlusive disease Journal of Vascular Surgery (2008) doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2008.06.041
It bears a similar Expression of Concern notice, with retraction ruled out but with an open invitation to authors to negotiate. Which is a pity, because as you saw the papers are completely fake. The authors have been torturing mice and rats for no reason, because the published results were all falsified and fabricated. Squadrito and his gang have 111 (One Hundred and Eleven!) papers on PubPeer, and there would have been much more but Aneurus Inconstans moved on to other things, having noticed that absolutely nobody among the Italian scientific authorities replied to his emails.
Bitto in fact received a year ago another million of Euros to spend of fake science, specifically “Use of Graphene Quantum Dots as carrier of theranostics agents for solid tumours”.
At least there is one retraction, just published:
Letteria Minutoli , Antonio Micali , Antonina Pisani , Domenico Puzzolo , Alessandra Bitto , Mariagrazia Rinaldi , Gabriele Pizzino , Natasha Irrera , Federica Galfo , Salvatore Arena , Giovanni Pallio , Anna Mecchio , Antonino Germanà , Daniele Bruschetta , Rosaria Laurà , Carlo Magno , Herbert Marini , Francesco Squadrito , Domenica Altavilla Research Article Flavocoxid Protects Against Cadmium-Induced Disruption of the Blood-Testis Barrier and Improves Testicular Damage and Germ Cell Impairment in Mice Toxicological sciences (2015) doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfv185
The retraction notice from 10 October 2022 goes:
“In May 2022, a reader raised concerns about Western blot bands in Figures 1, 2, 5, and 7 of the article. Details of the concerns were published on PubPeer: https://pubpeer.com/publications/A145E6D3AEFFAA20065285BAFCDCAD.
Subsequent examination of the figures showed clear evidence of duplication for parts of the images. The authors are unable to provide the original data for inspection and have not provided satisfactory explanations to the concerns raised. The extent of the manipulation and the impact on the study conclusions are considered extensive. Therefore, the article is retracted in accordance with image manipulation guidelines endorsed by the Committee for Publication Ethics (COPE).”
Both Squadrito and especially his wife, regular co-author and fellow University of Messina professor Domenica Altavilla used to work for the US company Primus Pharmaceuticals publishing falsified papers about the miraculous curative powers of the plant flavanol supplement flavocoxid, or Limbrel (the drug which FDA decreed as toxic). The professorial couple are the patent holders, Primus the assignee. I am sure this new retraction is unhelpful.
Altavilla unexpectedly died in May 2022, soon after the Fraud Squad article was published. Because this is Sicily, I can predict who will inherit her professorial chair soon. Their daughter Violetta Squadrito, who graduated in Messina with MSc in 2018 and remains affiliated with her father’s university hospital “G Martino” at the University of Messina, and who, according to Aneurus Inconstans “published with her parents already 9 papers from 2016 to today, none of them has been flagged on PubPeer, as The Squad became more attentive lately.”
There are entire families employed at that university multi-generationally, parents and children, uncles and nephews, husbands and wives (caveat: in Italy married women retain their maiden names), all publishing fake science. Francesco’s brother and co-author Giovanni Squadrito works at G Martino university hospital as deputy of Antonino Saitta, who in turn has his own string of fake papers on PubPeer (with and without Francesco Squadrito) and whose son Carlo Saitta is of course also co-author on fake papers and of course also employed at the Messina medical faculty.
Here another family case found by Aneurus:
“Full professor Sonia Messina, who has 8 entries in PubPeer as of today, is the daughter of late Corrado Messina, emeritus professor in Neurology at University of Messina. (please note the coincidence of the surname and the city name).
From Corrado Messina’s obituary, authored by Giuseppe Vita (another protagonist of The Fraud Squad), we learn that Sonia has two siblings: Maria Francesca Messina, associate professor also at Uni Messina, and Lorenzo Messina, ophtalmologist. The latter seems to not be tenured at the local university, which is surprising.“
Here a fresh example of Sonia Messina’s science, together with Squadrito’s associate and fellow Messina professor, Giuseppe Vita and his son Gian Luca (another co-author, Sara Romeo, is the daughter of Messina professor Carmelo Romeo):
Gian Luca Vita, M’hammed Aguennouz, Maria Sframeli, Francesca Sanarica, Paola Mantuano, Rosaria Oteri, Francesca Polito, Norma Licata, Sara Romeo, Maria Grazia Distefano, Matteo La Rosa, Carmen Bonanno, Giulia Nicocia, Giuseppe Vita, Annamaria De Luca, Sonia Messina Effect of exercise on telomere length and telomere proteins expression in mdx mice Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry (2020) doi: 10.1007/s11010-020-03761-3
Will it be retracted? Not likely.
Strategically plan your research so it’s in line with publishers’ interests
Look what coaching the Editor-in-Chief of Lancet Global Health, Zoë Mullan, offers to academics:
Nuts, I know, but what can your expect from The Lancet where, among other dirty deeds, the killer surgeon Paolo Macchiarini is still defended as a great scientist and the whistleblowers are denounced as harassers and trolls.
The 2008 Lancet paper of Paolo Macchiarini and Martin Birchall about the world first trachea transplant might end up retracted. Until recently, the journal’s editor Richard Horton used to ignore and suppress “non peer-reviewed” evidence, but due to combined pressure of activism, media and politics, things started to move.
I want to talk about something else here. Namely how the indignant tweeter, the Israeli neuroscientist Mike Fainzilber, professor at Weizmann Institute, strategically planned his research to align with publishers’ interests.
Eran Perlson , Katalin F. Medzihradszky , Zsuzsanna Darula , David W. Munno , Naweed I. Syed , Alma L. Burlingame , Mike Fainzilber Differential proteomics reveals multiple components in retrogradely transported axoplasm after nerve injury Molecular & cellular proteomics : MCP (2004) doi: 10.1074/mcp.m400004-mcp200
To be fair, there are much worse things going on at the Weizmann Institute.
Rony Seger, Jacob Hanna, Ilana Kolodkin-Gal, Atan Gross, Sima Lev, Tsvee Lapidot, Moshe Oren, Varda Rotter and others. Let’s celebrate the Weizmann Science!
This is a new episode of the data manipulation affair around Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel (and another guest post by “Smut Clyde”), with the hope that Israeli researchers and their state officials finally step in and investigate what goes on in this institute, supported by external experts from the academic community. There are…
Still, also Fainzilber has skeletons in his closet. In this 2009 paper, a gel lane has been digitally added, maybe the authors had to align some wishful thinking to results desired by the publisher? Incidentally same Elsevier which publishes The Lancet and Cell Press’ Neuron.
Liraz Harel , Barbara Costa , Marianna Tcherpakov , Marc Zapatka , Andre Oberthuer , Loen M. Hansford , Milijana Vojvodic , Zehava Levy , Zhe-Yu Chen , Francis S. Lee , Smadar Avigad , Isaac Yaniv , Leming Shi , Roland Eils , Matthias Fischer , Benedikt Brors , David R. Kaplan , Mike Fainzilber CCM2 mediates death signaling by the TrkA receptor tyrosine kinase Neuron (2009) doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2009.08.020
In this case, Fainzilber even replied on PubPeer:
Eran Perlson , Shlomit Hanz , Keren Ben-Yaakov , Yael Segal-Ruder , Rony Seger , Mike Fainzilber Vimentin-dependent spatial translocation of an activated MAP kinase in injured nerve Neuron (2005) doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2005.01.023
In 2017, Fainzilber and the first author did their own expert image analysis and declared on PubPeer the images were not identical, and:
“…it is not possible to re-probe the original blots to check if another type of error may have occurred. However we have located the saved images of all the replicates of the experiments in question, and they fully support the findings as originally reported. Moreover, as noted above this paper is highly cited. Perhaps more importantly, the main findings have been replicated multiple times by us and by others, hence we are confident in the validity and integrity of our findings. […] we will examine the original data and respond in detail.”
Narrator: they did not respond in detail. The PubPeer debate continued without Fainzilber, who also refused to discuss this likely duplication in the same paper:
Fainzilber must have been so angry he didn’t comment on other PubPeer threads. Not even here:
Adi B. Brann , Randolph Scott , Yael Neuberger , Denise Abulafia , Swetlana Boldin , Michael Fainzilber , Anthony H. Futerman Ceramide signaling downstream of the p75 neurotrophin receptor mediates the effects of nerve growth factor on outgrowth of cultured hippocampal neurons Journal of Neuroscience (1999) doi: 10.1523/jneurosci.19-19-08199.1999
So yeah, in Fainzilber’s own words:
Now look at this tweet reply:
Right, Adriano Aguzzi, the noxious Italian diva of Zurich, famous for his imaginary PhD degree which he flaunted for decades, his online bullying of early career scientists, and of course for the falsified science which he published and aggressively defends with threats of lawsuits.
The prion researcher Adriano Aguzzi used to describe his Pubpeer critics as “lowlifes”, and himself as a victim of a lynch mob. But after Elisabeth Bik helped him find even more mistakes in his papers, Aguzzi changed his stance.
I would like to throw Aguzzi’s own words back at him.
Scientists like these are not just part of this system, they created it, and they will seek to destroy everyone trying to call them out.
Great Firewall of China
A paper from China has been retracted for being a product of a papermill published via a parasitic editor and peer review ring. So far, so boring.
Zhongru Wang , Binxing Fang Application of combined kernel function artificial intelligence algorithm in mobile communication network security authentication mechanism The Journal of Supercomputing (2019) doi: 10.1007/s11227-019-02896-5
The retraction note from 7 October 2022 stated:
“The Editor-in-Chief and the publisher have retracted this article. The article was submitted to be part of a guest-edited issue. An investigation by the publisher found a number of articles, including this one, with a number of concerns, including but not limited to compromised editorial handling and peer review process, inappropriate or irrelevant references or not being in scope of the journal or guest-edited issue. Based on the investigation’s findings, the Editor-in-Chief therefore no longer has confidence in the results and conclusions of this article.
The author Binxing Fang has not responded to correspondence regarding this retraction.”
But Binxing Fang is not some little loser at the bottom of academic hierarchy trying to get a shot at tenure. As Tiger BB8 informed me, he used to be the president of his Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications, the top-ranked university in this field in China. Fang is also a member of Chinese Academy of Engineering, representative of the 11th National People’s Congress of Chinese Communist Party, and famous as the man who set up the Great Firewall of China, which extremely effectively prevents all of the 1.4 billion of Chinese people from learning the truth on internet.
And this dude bought himself a badly forged nonsense paper on mobile network security. As Hoya camphorifolia noted:
“Just look at the References! Someone shook the Random-Citation tree, and this is what fell out.“
-  Fan X, Yang L (2015) Room-temperature nickel-catalysed Suzuki–Miyaura reactions of aryl sulfonates/halides with arylboronic acids. Eur J Org Chem 2011(8):1467–1471
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-  Wen W, Liu H, Zhou Y et al (2016) Combining quantitative genetics approaches with regulatory network analysis to dissect the complex metabolism of the maize kernel. Plant Physiol 170(1):136–146
-  Morin AJS, Meyer JP, Mcinerney DM et al (2015) Profiles of dual commitment to the occupation and organization: relations to well-being and turnover intentions. Asia Pac J Manag 32(3):717–744
-  Yttri KE, Schnellekreiss J, Maenhaut W et al (2015) An intercomparison study of analytical methods used for quantification of levoglucosan in ambient aerosol filter samples. Atmos Meas Tech Discuss 7(7):125–147
-  Hastie T, Mazumder R, Zadeh R et al (2015) Matrix completion and low-rank SVD via fast alternating least squares. J Mach Learn Res 16(1):3367–3402
-  Cecile B, David CJ, Matteo M et al (2015) Clustering attributed graphs: models, measures and methods. Netw Sci 3(3):408–444
-  Tadesse T, Gillies RM (2015) Nurturing cooperative learning pedagogies in higher education classrooms: evidence of instructional reform and potential challenges. Curr Issues Edu 18(2):1–18
-  Garciareid P, Peterson CH, Reid RJ (2015) Parent and teacher support among latino immigrant youth: effects on school engagement and school trouble avoidance. Educ Urb Soc 47(3):328–343
-  Raza S, Mokhlis H, Arof H et al (2015) Application of signal processing techniques for islanding detection of distributed generation in distribution network: a review. Energy Convers Manag 96(88):613–624
-  Beardsley RL, Jang M (2015) Simulating the SOA formation of isoprene from partitioning and aerosol phase reactions in the presence of inorganics. Atmos Chem Phys 15(22):33121–33159
-  Pantic M, Zwitserloot R, Grootjans RJ (2017) Teaching introductory artificial intelligence using a simple agent framework. IEEE Trans Educ 48(3):382–390
- [15 ]Ferretti M, Santangelo L, Musci M (2019) Optimized cloud-based scheduling for protein secondary structure analysis. J Supercomput. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11227-019-02859-w
-  Uribe E, Pasten A, Lemus-Mondaca R et al (2015) Comparison of chemical composition, bioactive compounds and antioxidant activity of three olive-waste cakes. J Food Biochem 39(2):189–198
You may recall the affair of forged science by the Czech nanotechnologist Radek Zboril. It ended with misconduct findings at his Palacky University of Olomouc and retractions of papers in fancy journals.
This is a guest post by two whistleblowers from the Palacky University in Olomouc. In the centre of the growing research misconduct and retaliation scandal: the nanotechnology professor Radek Zboril
A reader brings an update:
“Another Zboril’s paper with fake results was identified, see:”
Ravishankar G. Kadam , Martin Petr , Radek Zbořil , Manoj B. Gawande, Radha V. Jayaram Hexagonal Mesoporous Silica Supported Ultrasmall Copper Oxides for Oxidative Amidation of Carboxylic Acids ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering (2018) doi: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.8b02247
As shared on PubPeer regarding this paper:
Let’s see if this ACS journal agrees, because previously ACS (and Elsevier) declared Zboril an innocent victim of envious harassment by failed scientists. But there was more going on, as per the reader:
*Palacky University Rector Prochazka fired Dean Kubala from the university in an unlawful move, illegally bypassing faculty and university senates! The “reason” was the use of Zboril’s emails in the court […] for which Kubala officially got a permission from the rectorate.“
Zboril namely threatened to sue Kubala in those emails for “bullying”, read here:
“I should remind you that the editorial offices that investigated your allegations did not found any evidence of scientific misconduct or data fabrication. In my opinion, your allegation may bear the elements of defamation and false accusation” – Prof Radek Zboril
It seems the rector had no legal right to sack the dean.
“This move made Science Faculty angry and at the yesterday’s (12. 10. 2022) session the Faculty Senate voted for the initiation of procedure of the dismissal of the rector, which is to be discussed at a meeting of the University Senate within next weeks.“
The reader also lists sources (in Czech):
- Rector’s statements, here and here
- Dean’s statement, here
- Faculty senate position, here:
- Further coverage , here
You sure know Ashutosh Tiwari and his predatory conferences with phony medals and awards. We all have a laugh when allegedly respectable scientists, their research institutions and even national academies proudly boast having won such a prestigious honour from Tiwari’s fantastical (as in ‘made-up’) IAAM.
In my last article on this topic I mentioned a case from the University of Würzburg in Germany:
Four years after Ashutosh Tiwari’s scamferences and research fraud were exposed, his impressive-sounding yet fictional “International Association of Advanced Materials”, or IAAM, still opens doors, hearts and wallets.
It now took the University of Würzburg a whole month to delete their press release from April 2022.
“Lukas Hahn was honoured by the International Association for Advanced Materials (IAAM) with the IAAM Young Scientist Medal for his results from the SFB/TRR225-funded doctorate, which he presented as part of the Advanced Materials Lecture Series. He completed his doctorate at the Julius-Maximilians University of Würzburg under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Robert Luxenhofer.”
On 13 September I requested that the university investigates whether participating in predatory conferences constitutes research misconduct. No reaction at all. Only after certain prodding did I receive a reply. On 12 October, Esther Knemeyer, head of PR at the University of Würzburg, wrote to me (translated):
“Dear Mr. Schneider,
Thank you very much for your information regarding the awarding of the IAAM medal to Mr. Hahn.
At the suggestion of his supervisor, Mr. Hahn took part in the online conference “Advanced Materials Lecture Series” at the University of Würzburg and gave a lecture there. As usual, the conference included various sessions, lectures and discussions with numerous participants. Against this background, there was no reason to doubt that this was a “proper” event and institution.
Through your comment we have learned that there have been inconsistencies in connection with the IAAM in the past. Since we do not want Mr. Hahn to suffer any form of damage as a result, he has since returned the certificate. The report about the certificate and the corresponding tweet have been removed from the SFB’s page.“
Basically, Knemeyer wants me to understand:
- Tiwari’s IAAM and his scamferences are actually perfectly OK, real quality scholarly stuff, but due to “inconsistencies […] in the past” the university wants to be extra careful. She refused to say where she read about those inconsistencies.
- Scientists at University of Würzburg regularly go to scamferences and pay for awards at shady conferences, so it didn’t sound strange to them to pay Tiwari for the medal.
- There are no guidelines on Würzburg on predatory conferences and participating in such (or sending your students there) is not research misconduct.
Seriously, the last two points are true. 2 seconds googling and I found a Würzburg professor of medicine, a Carola Förster, at an scamference by Conference Series fraudsters in Osaka, Japan. I am sure she did a lot of sightseeing on this important academic trip.
I dealt with Knemeyer and her university before, in the affair of the trachea transplanters Heike and Thorsten Walles (former subordinates of Paolo Macchiarini). Knemeyer diligently avoided providing me with any of the information I needed, but somehow my emails to her ended with Walles’ lawyer and were (unsuccessfully) used in their lawsuit against me.
Würzburg misconduct Commission acquits Walles, dismisses biased medical expert, restarts anew as data manipulations flood in
The University of Würzburg did not ignore the Open Letter in support of my journalism, and has concluded its internal investigation into medical and scientific activities of their trachea transplanters Heike and Thorsten Walles, without finding any misconduct. This was however not the end of it. I was invited to appeal this decision in front…
Former star of German regenerative medicine Heike Walles gets slapped with research misconduct and a retraction by her former employer, the University of Würzburg. She and her husband, the Macchiarini-trained surgeon Thorsten Walles, left Würzburg years ago for Magdeburg where nobody minds.
Incidentally, another 2 second Google search, and I see a Walles PhD student, a Maren Jannasch at a Conference Series scamference flaunting her University Hospital Würzburg affiliation in Madrid, Spain.
All paid with your tax money and never research misconduct. Not in Würzburg for sure.
Bad choices in Dresden
In an earlier article, I mentioned how the current rector of the German university TU Dresden, Ursula Staudinger, came to that office.
Lorenza Colzato was a rising star of psychology and a role model for Women in STEM. All Dutch media and even some local German newspapers talk about her now. But I want to talk about her husband Bernhard Hommel instead.
Staudinger is a psychologist with an interest in aging. In July 2013 she became founding director of the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center at the prestigious Columbia University in New York City, USA. The appointment was for 5 years with an implied possibility of extension.
But in October 2017, Dean of the Mailman School of Public Health Linda P. Fried, sent this letter to the faculty, which started with:
“I write to share the news that Dr. Ursula Staudinger has decided to not renew her position as Director of the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center (CAC) and now devote her full attention to her research program and her advisory work. In order to ease the transition and allow the University to start the search for a successor, she will step down from her position as Director at the end of 2017.”
Basically, Staudinger resigned long before her first term would have regularly ended, so abruptly that an urgent search for a successor had to be started. There was also this email by Fried and other urgently appointed interim directors, Kavita Sivaramakrishnan and Ruth Finkelstein:
“Dear Columbia University Colleagues and Friends of the Columbia Aging Center:
We write to share the news that Dr. Ursula Staudinger has decided not to renew her position as Director of the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center and to devote her full attention to her research program and advisory work. She continues as a member of the Mailman School of Public Health faculty. Join us in thanking Dr. Staudinger for her considerable efforts as the inaugural director of the Columbia Aging Center, which she built into a prototype for fostering
interdisciplinary research. Under her leadership the Columbia Aging Center has reached visibility across the University, nationally and internationally. The Center has become a recognized hub for studying positive plasticity of aging and how to translate this knowledge into building successful societies of longer lives and optimal health, resiliency and well-being.
In light of Professor Staudinger’s decision to step down as of December 31st, a search committee is in formation, and the national search for her successor at the Columbia Aging Center will be announced. “
The letters from Fried thank Staudinger for many things (her science, established programmes, research collaborations, grant money) but not really for her managerial role as the boss of the many employees of the Aging Center. Ho-hum.
Allegedly, in November 2017 and soon after her resignation, Staudinger even moved her personal office out of the Columbia Aging Center to a different part of department (Aging Center is at the Mailman School of Public Health, 722 W. 168th Street, 4th Floor; Staudinger moved to 5th Floor, Room 531)
Two years later, Staudinger left Columbia University completely and returned to Germany to become the rector of TU Dresden. But for some reason, in July 2020 she decided to also terminate her “lifetime professorship” at Columbia (see official CV). We know it used to be a “lifetime professorship”, because this title was celebrated by Leopoldina in 2013 and even by TU Dresden in March 2020:
Academics generally don’t step down as research center directors prematurely except maybe for health or family reasons. And even then they don’t (allegedly) move out of the center, later even leave the country altogether and voluntarily renounce a lifetime professorship.
Staudinger refused to answer my inquiry about the reasons for her resignation from all offices and titles at Columbia. I am aware of the rumours about those reasons, and so are many others under her masterly management in Dresden.
News in Tweets
- Those papermills, eh? You get what you paid for, but if it passes peer review at Hindawi… “The subjects of the analysis were the records of pregnant women who delivered inpatients in the obstetrics department of a provincial hospital between May 2021 and May 2022. The study included 59 participants […] Pentohexidine was administered intravenously (30 mg/kg) was injected intravenously, and the trachea was intubated and placed in a well-ventilated environment. The thoracic cavity was opened, a PE-50 polyethylene tube was inserted into the right ventricle, […] Use TRIzol to extract total RNA from lung tissue,” (Liu et al 2022)
“sadly, no-one could find any other evidence of existence for these festively-named individuals, who may well be Knock-Knock jokes that somehow gained sentience.” – Smut Clyde
- Speaking of Hindawi, Nick Wise blogs: “I am going to focus on one special issue that is still open for submissions, and so far contains a modest 62 papers: ‘AI-Driven Wireless Energy Harvesting in Massive IoT for 5G and Beyond’, edited by Hamurabi Gamboa Rosales, Danijela Milosevic and Dijana Capeska Bogatinoska. Given the title of the special issue, it is perhaps surprising that only two of the articles contain ‘wireless’ in the title and none contain ‘energy’. The authors of the other papers (or whoever submitted them) appear to have realised that as long as they included the buzzwords ‘AI’, ‘IoT’ (Internet of Things) or ‘5G’ in the title, the paper could be about anything at all. […] The most intriguing fact about the papers in the special issue however, is that only 4 authors give corresponding email addresses that match their affiliation. These 4 include the only 3 papers with non-Chinese authors.“
- More Hindawi fun. An Egyptian scholar named Osama Ahmed is asked on PubPeer to share raw data for the questioned gels in Eldin et al 2022 and complies. Cheshire then shows the raw data is ridiculously fake. Ahmed: “We will contact the journal and Chief Editor because of these concerns in Western blot of Fig. 3A and in the original blot obtained from the outside Lab. We will discuss with the Chief editor asking for retraction“
- Still on Hindawi. A certain Mr Chaoqun Ma (according to online records, a student of Marxism) decided to defend his Chinese compatriots who were caught with papermill products. He repeatedly posted a lengthy comment on various PubPeer threads, quote: “If you are really a scientific researcher, I don’t think you have much time to comment on these Hindawi papers. Do you read Hindawi’s papers every day to help you improve your academic level? Don’t you read some TOP journals? In addition, according to my network monitoring, you used a lot of “weskit” in malicious comments. Do you give an explanation?” The tirade ended with a threat: “Your behavior is very suspicious. The website now seems to have become a platform for “retaliation”. I’m checking your IP address.” Needless to say, this provoked sleuths to check Ma’s own papers, with predictable results (e.g., here and here).
- Springer Nature corrected a paper (Shi et al 2020) too fast: “The amendments to the above mentioned figures do not affect the statistical analysis and conclusions of the article.”. But what cruelty, Cheshire and Morty posted on PubPeer even more fraud findings in this same paper! Another correction then I guess? Nothing? Note: the Editor-in-Chief of Cancer Gene Therapy is Justin Stebbing‘s mentee, Georgios Giamas, who recently finally had to retract their joint fake paper for massive data forgery.
‘The results have been replicated by ourselves or others, so the image manipulation is irrelevant.’ – Justin Stebbing, double bluffing
- Didier Raoult is now being sued back.
- Added value indeed. At least they fixed it now, but here is the archived version for Warr, “The authors name and address was included above the abstract in the submission. If it is difficult to stop, it is” Earth-Science Reviews (2022)
- Now onto proper predatory publishing. Professors Robert Speth of Nova Southeastern University in Florida, USA and Michael Bader of Max-Delbrück-Center in Berlin, Germany write in Retraction Watch: “We have now published a letter to the editor in the Medical Research Archives describing just a few of the major concerns we have about the Cell paper, emphasizing its potential to adversely impact the treatment of COVID-19 patients who need ventilatory support.” The predatory publisher and scamferencer ESMED (“European Society of Medicine”) exists only as a mailbox address in California and is reported to trick authors by approaching them in disguise.
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