Schneider Shorts of 23 December 2022 – the Christmas spirits bring us a baby saved by stem cell magic in England, a mysterious sexual harasser in Germany, fake French nanotechnology, illustrative figures and stolen identities in USA, a cure for both COVID-19 and cancer, and finally, a bunch of academic racists paid by a Nazi fund.
Table of Discontent
- Professor in Underpants – Who is Cologne’s sexual predator “Daniel Möller” from Spiegel report?
- DKFZ Genius – German elite institution unsure about ex-employee’s papermilling
- French excesses – Raphael Levy finds more nano-fraud in Spadavecchia papers
- Illustrative figures – pharma exec Daniel Alkon explains how science works
- It wasn’t me! – Dean Bill Schiemann, victim of stolen identity and fake figures
- Pioneer Brood – Angela Saini on Mankind Quarterly and racist scientists paid by Pioneer Fund
- Stem cells save baby! – Crack team Massimo Caputo and Mark Lowdell do magic
- Octopus’ secret – is microRNA, what else
- Cure for everything – Dr Amy Lee, who is not a shill, cures both COVID-19 and cancer
Professor in Underpants
The German weekly magazine Der Spiegel brought a story titled “Professor in Underpants” about a faculty member at the University of Cologne who sexually harassed his female graduate students, and when these complained to university, well, guess whose side the university took. This being German journalism, the perpetrator is not named (disguised as “Daniel Möller”, but the identities of the whistleblowers are very easy to find out from the article (also because it mentions their #metooscience project).
From there, one quickly arrives to their likely former supervisor, the faculty member Sascha Topolinski, “Professor for Social and Economic Cognition II”. Of course he doesn’t have to be “Daniel Möller”, it could theoretically be another faculty colleague. But Topolinski doesn’t answer to emails when repeatedly asked to deny, and then suddenly sends a lawyer to aggressively threaten lawsuits should his name be ever mentioned in any context. Like the lawyer, Topolinski’s university did not confirm or deny the “Daniel Möller” association when challenged.
It is strange. If the wrong person is indirectly implicated by Spiegel, why not denying? And if is is the right person, shouldn’t other students be made aware so they avoid this professor and don’t join his research group, which to the uninitiated appears totally normal and even prestigious?
This is what Spiegel wrote on 17 December 2022 that “Daniel Möller” was invited his female PhD students to his office clad only in his underpants. They were supposed to watch him try new fashion clothes. 12 women lodged a complaint, there was an institutional investigation by the University of Cologne, this is the result (translated):
“The professor is still working at the university, does research, teaches and publishes. Two doctoral students and a student assistant are currently employed by this chair, at the beginning of the winter semester he organised the freshmen introductory week on his subject. The women who wanted to resist Möller’s behavior criticise those responsible at the university: their evidence was not taken seriously enough, the investigation against the professor was biased and conducted in a non-transparent manner. […]
Two of the affected women agreed to talk to SPIEGEL about their experiences if their surnames will not mentioned. Victoria S., 33, and Franziska S., 29, once wanted to work for Möller do a doctorate. Victoria S. later quit; Franziska S. let her employment contract expire before she finished her dissertation.
Going public “a step out of helplessness,” says Franziska S. When they tried to raise awareness within the university regarding Möller’s behavior, to protect others from him, they were not taken seriously.”
This is how the research group operated, and apparently University of Cologne had zero problem with it, because, as the article mentions, the leadership saw in “Daniel Möller” “a rising star“:
“One of his former employees puts it this way: »He is on the lookout for female employees who are from his point of view cute little sweethearts – who put up with everything. He draws strength from it.” […] Franziska S. says Möller »treated doctoral students like house- and court servants«. One would have to buy for him food and flowers, cigarettes and vodka. […]
Möller regularly freaked out, according to a report. It speaks of an “aggression attack”. Franziska S. tells about a day in the summer of 2019 where Möller placed himself in her office to work. The wheels of his office chair blocked, he became so angry that he kicked the chair and threw it against the office wall. Möller is said to have insulted people with dark skin with the N-word, a homosexual colleague he called a “faggot”.
Other stories about “Daniel Möller”:
“Victoria S. says Möller called her with in reference to her research results as »slut with robust data«. Another time he told her that men who wanted to sleep with her had to “submit a request” to him. In her report, Victoria S. describes a situation at the group’s Christmas party: Möller reportedly asked her into his office and locked the door behind him. A person who stood outside confirms that.
The professor and Victoria S. reportedly sat on his sofa, he is said to have come ‘ever closer’ to her. He reportedly took a picture of her, even though she said that she doesn’t want that. She reportedly got up to leave. On parting, the professor reportedly kissed her on the cheek. […]
The female scientist, whom Möller during daytime fetched to his office for fashion shows, had to accompany him at night on his trips to a Cologne strip club. The professor took her there almost 20 times, recounts the woman. In some cases she had to pick a stripper for a private lap dance. Also other employees of that research group had come along, as well as visiting professors from universities abroad. She »felt like an escort«, says the former doctoral student.”
The lawyer of “Daniel Möller” doesn’t even deny in Spiegel the strip club visits, but insists those were entirely after work and voluntary.
In November 2020, the two whistleblowers finally wrote to the rector of the University of Cologne. Who only replied 4 months later, in April 2020. In September 2020, an investigation started. The whistleblowers were ordered to arrive to an interview. Without a lawyer or union representative, but “Daniel Möller was present, with his lawyer.
“On 15 September 15 2020 at nine o’clock Franziska S. entered a meeting room in a building of the university administration, with her father, whom she was allowed to bring along as an accompanying person. She sat down at a table, opposite of her two legal counsels of the university, to her right Möller and his lawyer. In the middle of the room stood a recording device that recorded every word. This is how the scientist describes it.
The university prepared transcripts of the interrogations. If you read them, you get an idea of whose side of the legal advisors stood: Victoria S. described during her interrogation a scene with Möller at a university event during the carnival season. She was dressed up in a costume and wore a wig. The professor told her that her wig won’t soon look look so nice anymore because he will “jerk off on it tonight«.
Instead of inquiring, the legal counsel plays it over. The word “jerk off” has for Möller a “special word meaning apart of the general meaning of the word,” she is quoted in the protocol. Möller sometimes use the word “to jerk off” as synonym for the word “to write”, explained the legal counsel. […]
During the interrogation, Möller’s lawyer asked Victoria S. when did her ex-boyfriend break up with her. He asked if she was interested in a love affair with her PhD advisor. “Under no circumstances,” she replied. Today Victoria S. says:
“I felt like a defendant, not like a witness.” Another woman who also had to testify, reported that during the interrogation she was given the feeling that Möller’s behavior wasn’t that bad since she worked for him for years: “That was victim blaming.”
Truth is: most universities behave like University of Cologne did. Whistleblowers should sue them for abuse, but of course they won’t because troublemakers can forget about graduation. Both women had to leave Cologne.
The Chief Communication officer of the University of Cologne wrote to me in an email, the same text she issued as press release on 19 December 2022:
And the horrible interrogation Victoria S experienced?
As I mentioned, the whistleblowers’ full names are easy to find thanks to Spiegel‘s hint to their project #MeTooScience. From there, a quick online search swiftly brings you to their likely former supervisor, Prof Sascha Topolinski, whose research group also happens to list two PhD students and an undergrad (all female, European and good looking), just as Spiegel mentioned.
Topolinski graduated at the University of Würzburg in the state of Bavaria, also just as Spiegel hinted. His PhD mentor there was Fritz Strack, a bigwig of German psychology and a member of Leopoldina academy of sciences. As it happens, Strack’s own big research discovery of “facial feedback hypothesis” (Strack et al. 1988) was exposed as not reproducible by Wagenmakers et al 2016. To which Strack reacted by lamenting himself as a victim of persecution and by appointing himself as world’s top expert on the “alleged crisis” in psychology where he alone decides on the rules for replication. So you see where the untouchability and the rising star status of his mentees comes from.
Ah, and by the way, another mentee of Strack was one of the biggest psychology fraudsters in recent history – Jens Förster, mentioned here:
Bad Choices in Dresden III
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.
Professor Sascha Topolinski did not answer to my emails, and eventually sent a lawyer to threaten me with lawsuits, from the notorious law firm Hoecker (which specialises on threatening journalists, their most famous clients are the German far-right party AfD and the Turkish autocrat Tayyip Erdogan). As it happens, “Daniel Möller” also refused talking to Spiegel and sent his lawyer instead, to make sure his real name is not published.
In a string of emails to me, the Hoecker lawyer Christoph Sch. repeatedly insisted his client must be heard, but despite my asking, both the lawyer and Topolinski failed to provide any statement via email. The Hoecker lawyer also refused to confirm or deny the association with “Daniel Möller” (which I explained derived from the Spiegel clues and a quick internet search), despite several of my inquiries. Instead the Hoecker lawyer in a string of emails aggressively kept threatening to sue me, both on Topolinksi’s and even on his own and Hoecker’s behalf (translated):
Which suspicion reporting? Nobody accuses Topolinski of anything, he merely was asked for a comment because he seems to have previously acted as the supervisor of the two Spiegel whistleblowers and should therefore know who that “Daniel Möller” is. Refusing a hearing when repeatedly asked is certainly not the same as not getting a chance to be heard. Why not just denying the association but threatening lawsuits instead? And Topolinski wasn’t media-shy before, like here , here , here , or here:
Whoever this “Daniel Möller” is, this “rising star” is presently drawing serious research funding from the national funding agency, the German Research Council (DFG).
So I approached the DFG, and its press speaker replied, making clear that the DFG is absolutely not interested in finding out who “Daniel Möller” really is, and:
The DFG obviously has no procedure for when their research funds are used to recruit and to blackmail students for the purpose of sexual abuse.
On 30 August 2022, Alexander Magazinov informed the prestigious German Cancer Research Centre DKFZ in Heidelberg that one of their former employees, a certain Mostafa Jarahian, is still using the DKFZ affiliation to publish papermill fraud. Magazinov wrote to DKFZ’ press speaker and its scientific director:
“Dear dr. Gudd, dear dr. Baumann,
I am writing to you because it might be helpful to DFKZ to sort out the situation with the following publications, that involve persons affiliated to DFKZ (or those that declare the DFKZ affiliation illegitimately).1. Cloning and Embryo Splitting in Mammalians: Brief History, Methods, and Achievements, https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/2347506
The author with stated DFKZ affiliation: Mostafa Jarahian.
This is presented as a spectacular collaboration of researchers from Belarus, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Russia and Saudi Arabia. In reality, this is a papermill product. Please, check the credentials of some co-authors.
- Lakshmi Thangavelu, who, along with embryo splitting is likely well-versed in intimate partner violence (https://doi.org/10.1080/03630242.2022.2096755), parallel programming (https://doi.org/10.7232/iems.2022.21.2.366), machine learning (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arabjc.2021.103680), lithium-ion batteries (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.est.2022.105323), cold welding (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mtcomm.2022.103471), and nano-reactors (https://doi.org/10.1515/revic-2021-0007). Co-authored 70 publications in 2021 and already 64 in 2022. See his profile here: https://app.dimensions.ai/discover/publication?and_facet_researcher=ur.010314561647.23&viz-st:aggr=mean&search_mode=content .
- Gunawan Widjaja, with similar profile and range of interests as Thangavelu – https://app.dimensions.ai/discover/publication?and_facet_researcher=ur.012121052174.41 .
- Abduladheem Turki Jalil, with yet another similar profile – https://app.dimensions.ai/discover/publication?and_facet_researcher=ur.012266365055.15
2. A paradigm shift in cell-free approach: the emerging role of MSCs-derived exosomes in regenerative medicine, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12967-021-02980-6
The author with stated DFKZ affiliation: Mostafa Jarahian.
Yet another impressive geography: Belarus, Egypt, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, USA.
In addition to the above mentioned Turki Jalil, there are more authors to keep notes about (all with unusually broad range of publication topics):
- Wanich Suksatan – https://app.dimensions.ai/discover/publication?and_facet_researcher=ur.013101764461.52 .
- Walid Kamal Abdelbasset – https://app.dimensions.ai/discover/publication?and_facet_researcher=ur.011042464437.24 .
- Alexey Yumashev – https://app.dimensions.ai/discover/publication?and_facet_researcher=ur.016514442051.55 .
- Marischa Elveny – https://app.dimensions.ai/discover/publication?and_facet_researcher=ur.013370104450.94 .
3. CAR‐NK cell in cancer immunotherapy; A promising frontier, https://doi.org/10.1111/cas.14993
The authors with stated DFKZ affiliation: Angel Cid-Arreguid, Mostafa Jarahian.
Another across-the-globe collaboration, but Turki Jalil and Yumashev among the co-authors do not promise anything good.
4. Novel CAR T therapy is a ray of hope in the treatment of seriously ill AML patients, https://doi.org/10.1186/s13287-021-02420-8
The author with stated DFKZ affiliation: Mostafa Jarahian.
The presence of Turki Jalil, Abdelbasset and Suksatan among the authors is not a good sign for this multinational product of scholarly thought.
5. CAR T cells in solid tumors: challenges and opportunities, https://doi.org/10.1186/s13287-020-02128-1
Here, Mostafa Jarahian is present, but uses an affiliation in Tabriz, Iran. But nevertheless, there are several researchers with a DFKZ affiliation: Navid Shomali, Sepideh Izadi, Ali Hassanzadeh, Naghmeh Shirafkan & Safa Tahmasebi.
A remarkable cross-border collaboration again. But on the list of authors we have Thangavelu and Yumashev.
I hope that you have a look at these papers and figure out what is happening. I also hope DFKZ does not tolerate authorship trading and does not approve the staff (especially – I regret to use this wording, but it is necessary – from the Iranian diaspora) to engage in such activities.”
Now, Mostafa Jarahian really used to be postdoc at DKFZ. Many years ago. On LinkedIn, he still insists to be a “Postdoctoral Researcher” there, since 2001. He also informs his PhD there took from 2001 till 2017. In the papermill trash he now publishes, Jarahian uses a gmail email address.
So how did DKFZ react to this information? Well, they ignored it.
On 17 December Magazinov sent a reminder, and I sent an email to DKFZ as well. Magazinov added more of Jarahian’s trash:
“Please, take into your consideration the following PubPeer threads:
In total, three pieces involving Jarahian and DKFZ as the affiliation have been spotted on that authorship-for-sale site.
Lack of swift action would mean DKFZ approves of such practices. It takes no time to notify the journals/publishers that the DKFZ affiliation has been used without authorization. Equally, it takes no time to notify me that the action has been taken, it suffices to add me in cc/bcc of your notification to the journals/publishers.”
These three papers were sold by the Latvia-based russian papermill called Science Publisher (read about it here and here), the evidence of the sale is on PubPeer. Suddenly, on 20 December 2022, DKFZ’s press speaker Sibylle Kohlstädt replied:
The attachment contained screenshots of the 3 emails Kohlstädt sent to the 3 journals on the same day, two by Frontiers and one by Elsevier (thus after Magazinov’s and my reminders). The only three with direct evidence of papermill origin:
Magazinov then asked about the other papermill garbage:
Silence. I guess those are part of DKFZ performance stats already? they are also OK with predatory conferences, after all.
Nobelist Harald zur Hausen and the Scamferences
Smut Clyde tells you about some abysmally bad scamferences and the kind of scholars frequenting them, and I explain why Nobel Prize winner Harald zur Hausen is one of them.
Raphael Levy continues uncovering fraud in the nanotechnology papers by his Paris colleague Jolanda Spadavecchia (for previous reporting, read here). Levy posts his comments on PubPeer, with Spadavecchia’s record having grown there to over 20 papers. The affair was even covered by Le Monde. But her employers CNRS and Université Sorbonne Paris Nord think there is absolutely no research misconduct at all, in fact they were even upset one journal has retracted one fake paper despite their orders to issue corrections only. No problem: Spadavecchia simply republished the retracted paper with some sleazy predatory publisher and got patted her on the head.
Here are some of Levy’s new findings, so you know what kind of science French academic authorities fully approve of:
Maroua Ben Haddada , Katy Jeannot , Jolanda Spadavecchia Novel Synthesis and Characterization of Doxycycline-Loaded Gold Nanoparticles: The Golden Doxycycline for Antibacterial Applications Particle & Particle Systems Characterization (2019) doi: 10.1002/ppsc.201800395
Levy wrote on PubPeer:
“This article is part of a set of over 20 articles, which I reported to the integrity officers of CNRS and University Sorbonne Paris Nord in February and April 2021 because of anomalies deserving of further scrutiny. Nearly two years later most of the articles are still not corrected nor retracted. Many of the corrections are themselves problematic because of the lack of transparency and because of problems with the nature of the data. One article was retracted in August 2022 against the wishes of the authors… it was republished in a predatory journal in October 2022. It is time to share here the entirety of the concerns. Some aspects of this case were discussed recently in an article in Le Monde.
The drug release curves. The same release curve or often pair of release curves appear in 8 articles including this one (10.2147/IJN.S295809, 10.1039/D0NA00758G, 10.1021/acsomega.0c02644, 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.0c00694, 10.4172/2157-7439.1000520, 10.1002/ppsc.201800395, 10.1002/ppsc.201800082, 10.1002/ppsc.201700299) where they represent the release of different drugs from various nanoparticle complexes (it is not clear what is supposed to trigger this release). I have added yellow and green stars to indicate sets of curves, which are identical.
Qiqian Liu , Pasquale Sacco , Eleonora Marsich , Franco Furlani , Celia Arib , Nadia Djaker , Marc Lamy De La Chapelle , Ivan Donati , Jolanda Spadavecchia Lactose-Modified Chitosan Gold(III)-PEGylated Complex-Bioconjugates: From Synthesis to Interaction with Targeted Galectin-1 Protein Bioconjugate Chemistry (2018) doi: 10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.8b00520
“Between 2018 and 2021, the same histogram (or in some cases variants with very minor modifications) was published 15 times spread between 8 articles including this one (10.1021/acsomega.0c04501, 10.1038/s41598-021-81751-1, 10.1039/D0NA00758G, 10.1021/acsomega.0c01192, 10.1021/acsomega.0c00376, 10.2147/IJN.S224805, 10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.8b00520, 10.1016/j.jcis.2017.10.055). In all cases, the histogram is supposed to represent the size distribution of different samples of nanoparticles. Remarkably, the x-axis values are modified from histogram to histogram.
These histograms are not just recycled. Levy explained on PubPeer how the histograms were fabricated, in the sense of faked.
Here more new findings:
Now, who is surprised that Spadavecchia hates sleuths like Elisabeth Bik and is a fan of Didier Raoult and the fascists of France Soir?
In France, research fraud is the only acceptable way to do science, and academic whistleblowers and investigative journalists are seen as enemies of the state.
Call to research integrity, or at least a minor revolution at CNRS
When I first started digging into the affair of data manipulations around the former star of plant sciences Olivier Voinnet in early 2015, I was sure to be dealing with a singular case of fraud in French science, which went totally unnoticed for decades. When 2 years later I wrote “a fish stinks from the head down” in my…
In the case of plant science cheater Olivier Voinnet, it was once decided all figures in his papers were actually illustrations and therefore their fake nature never affected any of the textual conclusions. Apparently, this is a popular view in certain circles.
Meet Daniel Alkon, a biotech businessman and book author of books on neuroscience. He owns a company named Neurotrope Bioscience, and he also works for other neuroscience biotechs, most recently for Synaptogenix:
Also meet Alkon’s papers, flagged by Elisabeth Bik.
Guetchyn Millien , Huaixing Wang , Zongxiu Zhang , Dan L. Alkon , Jarin Hongpaisan PKCε Activation Restores Loss of PKCε, Manganese Superoxide Dismutase, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor, and Microvessels in Aged and Alzheimer’s Disease Hippocampus Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience (2022) doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2022.836634
Alkon replied straight away, (highlight mine):
When challenged about his attitude, Alkon offered to submit a correction while blaming his younger author, an assistant professor at Jefferson University:
Hongpaisan then arrived to PubPeer to share raw data in an unannotated and unreadable format. Bik eventually succeeded opening and analysing those, and concluded:
- “The images you and Dr. Alkon claim were ‘just illustrations’ are actually included in the “original files” you provided and that you claim are the ones used for the measurements
- The AD II-III (middle) and AD IV-VI (bottom) panels in Figure 8B indeed are derived from the same specimen.“
Exactly same thing happened here: first Alkon insisting it’s just “illustrations”, then offering corrections while blaming Hongpaisan:
Abhik Sen , Thomas J. Nelson , Daniel L. Alkon , Jarin Hongpaisan Loss in PKC Epsilon Causes Downregulation of MnSOD and BDNF Expression in Neurons of Alzheimer’s Disease Hippocampus Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (2018) doi: 10.3233/jad-171008
And of course also here, same sequence of Alkon’s bullshit:
M.-K. Sun , J. Hongpaisan, D. L. Alkon Rescue of Synaptic Phenotypes and Spatial Memory in Young Fragile X Mice Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (2016) doi: 10.1124/jpet.115.231100
I suggest that at least for that paper, Dr Alkon adds some financial disclosures, while the authors are at it. Instead of lying: “The authors declaim no conflict interest.“
In the above-discussed 2022 Frontiers paper, Alkon stated to be “employed by Neurotrope Bioscience, Inc“. In his above 2018 paper, he admitted in detail:
It wasn’t me!
Here is another confused American man.
Meet William P. Schiemann, Vice Dean for Research of the School of Medicine at the Case Western Reserve University.
Meet his papers, flagged by Cheshire:
Maozhen Tian, William P. Schiemann Preclinical efficacy of cystatin C to target the oncogenic activity of transforming growth factor Beta in breast cancer Translational Oncology (2009) doi: 10.1593/tlo.09145
On PubPeer, a “William P. Schiemann” immedatedly reacted:
Naturally, Cheshire disagreed. So once again, a “William P. Schiemann” replied:
It is not clear how Schiemann’s former postdoc at University of Colorado, Maozhen Tian, who according to his LinkedIn profile works in biotech industry since 2012, could have got hold of Schieman’s new Case Western email account to comment on Pubpeer under Schiemann’s name. Maybe Schiemann is just confused.
There is of course more:
Maozhen Tian , William P. Schiemann PGE2 receptor EP2 mediates the antagonistic effect of COX‐2 on TGF‐β signaling during mammary tumorigenesis The FASEB Journal (2010) doi: 10.1096/fj.09-141341
Maozhen Tian , William P. Schiemann TGF-β stimulation of EMT programs elicits non-genomic ER-α activity and anti-estrogen resistance in breast cancer cells Journal of Cancer Metastasis and Treatment (2017) doi: 10.20517/2394-4722.2017.38
But it’s not only the naughty Tian. Schiemann has currently 10 papers on PubPeer, including those without Tian but occasionally with Schiemann’s wife Barbara:
No Schiemann has yet commented under any of those.
Undark has a long read by Angela Saini, author of the book Superior (about scientific racism). It is about the far-right racist pseudoscience journal Mankind Quarterly, founded in 1961 by racists and Nazis, and its financier, the Nazi-minded Pioneer Fund, fed for decades by wealthy racist donors like Wickliffe Draper. The journal and its fund were managed by professorial racists like Richard Lynn and Jean-Philippe Rushton.
Draper died long ago, also Rushton died in 2012. But others beneficiaries of the Pioneer Fund are still alive:
“One of the largest single beneficiaries of Wickliffe Draper’s generosity in the 20th century was the psychologist Thomas Bouchard, currently the director of the Minnesota Center for Twin and Adoption Research at the University of Minnesota, whose twin studies remain influential in intelligence research circles. Most recently, Bouchard’s work was cited in a 2022 paper in the Nature journal npj Science of Learning looking at genetic effects on cognitive performance as people learn over time. […]
Another psychologist, Linda Gottfredson at the University of Delaware, was given a research grant of $174,000 by Draper’s Pioneer Fund in 1989. […] Gottfredson told Undark […] that the fund’s president at the time “developed a talent for recognizing world-class scientists committed to answering critical questions that others feared asking,” and “supported them when other organizations would not.”
Those critical questions, for Gottfredson at least, have focused on racial group differences in intelligence and her belief that they have some natural underpinnings. Unsurprisingly, given the lack of genetic evidence for group differences in cognitive ability, her work has attracted suspicion. In one paper she shared with Undark, she condemned her critics for attempting to stifle her academic freedom, using the opportunity to defend fellow researchers Arthur Jensen and Thomas Bouchard. In another paper, titled “Resolute Ignorance on Race and Rushton,” she wrote that Jean-Philippe Rushton was a “scholar and a gentleman,” and that in her view, it is plausible to assume that IQ differences between Black and White Americans could be largely attributed to genetics.
But Gottfredson is perhaps most well-known for her public statement in The Wall Street Journal in 1994 defending widely-refuted claims about race and intelligence made in “The Bell Curve,” a book published that year by political scientist Charles Murray and the late psychologist Richard Herrnstein. Gottfredson argued that while the statistical bell curve for intelligence among Whites centered at an IQ of around 100, “for American Blacks” it was “roughly around 85,” and that there was no persuasive evidence that these curves were converging. The statement was signed by 52 others, many of whom were also linked to Wickliffe Draper and his funds, including Bouchard, Jensen, and Rushton.
Another signatory was a less well-known figure: Richard Haier, a psychologist and now emeritus professor at the University of California, Irvine. Haier is the editor of Intelligence, a journal belonging to the major international scientific publishing group Elsevier, which also publishes the highly prestigious journals Cell and The Lancet. Unlike The Mankind Quarterly, Intelligence is considered a reputable mainstream publication, with bona fide academics on its editorial board. Yet many Pioneer Fund grantees — Gottfredson, Bouchard, and Rushton among them — have had dozens of papers published in the journal. After Rushton died in 2012, the journal printed a gushing obituary comparing him to the 18th-century English social economist Thomas Malthus, whose memorial in Bath praised him for his “spotless integrity.”
Satoshi Kanazawa and other racist “Galileos”
Outright racism and misogyny became rare in academia, eugenics and bigotry lurk these days not in Mankind Quarterly but in respected journals, wrapped in fancy genetics and neuroscience. Meet one of the last of the old school racist IQ psychologists, Satoshi Kanazawa.
Meet other professorial racists:
“The Pioneer Fund’s U.S. tax records show that its most recent grant was given in 2019, totalling $15,000 to support an organization known as the Human Phenome Diversity Foundation, based in Ohio. This foundation’s president was listed as Bryan Pesta, then a tenured business professor at Cleveland State University in Ohio. In 2016, Pesta published a paper in which he predicted that as the IQ level required to do a job increases, “the percent of White and Asian workers will increase, while the percent of Black workers will decrease.” This was published in Open Differential Psychology, an open-access online journal edited by a right-wing blogger with no known reputable academic affiliations, who is — like Pesta — a contributor to The Mankind Quarterly.
In 2020, Pesta also published research in Intelligence on racial and ethnic group differences in the heritability of intelligence. […]
In September, Cleveland State University told Undark that Pesta was dismissed from his job in March, following an internal investigation. This was not because of his associations with The Mankind Quarterly, nor because he had accepted money from the Pioneer Fund. It was because the university had been informed by the National Institutes of Health that Pesta had been misusing their data, “resulting in multiple violations of the Data Use Certification agreement he signed to gain access to the information.”
Read about Pesta’s activities here:
MDPI and racism
In 2019, MDPI published a Special Issue “Beyond Thirty Years of Research on Race Differences in Cognitive Ability”, one year later its owner Shu-Kun Lin expressed admiration for Trump and said “Black Lives Matter. White Lives Matter. All Lives Matter.”
Scientific racism is not just a harmless academic expression of opinion. It actually kills people:
“May 14, a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, became the scene of an American mass shooting. Ten people were killed — all of them Black — and three others were injured. Like the Christchurch killer three years earlier, who shot 51 worshippers in a mosque in New Zealand, the murderer in this case wrote an exhaustive racist manifesto seeking to justify his actions. But in the pages of this document were also citation after citation of scientific journal papers. […]
The manifesto cited a 2004 paper by the twin researcher Thomas Bouchard, and a 2002 paper by Richard Lynn, president of Draper’s Pioneer Fund, titled “Racial and ethnic differences in psychopathic personality.” It cited two papers by Rushton, including one that was retracted in 2021. […] All appeared in journals owned by academic publishing giants such as Elsevier, SAGE, and Wiley. […]
Two other papers mentioned in the manifesto, making the case for links between genetics and intelligence differences, were co-authored in 2011 and 2015 by the Scottish psychiatrist Ian Deary, who retired from the University of Edinburgh in 2021 and has frequently contributed to the Elsevier journals Intelligence and Personality and Individual Differences. […] Deary has co-authored at least two papers with Linda Gottfredson, the Pioneer Fund grantee and author of the Wall Street Journal Letter. […]
Another researcher credited in the shooter’s manifesto was Michael Woodley, a British academic who often collaborates with other Mankind Quarterly contributors, and has been promoted on far-right media channels. […] When there were protests after the Buffalo massacre, the [Vrije Universiteit Brussels] suspended its links with Woodley, declaring itself in a statement to be “shocked” by what had happened.”
Read about Deary here (Woodley is mentioned in my MDPI article above):
Edinburgh psychologists announce in Nature Communications genes for being rich. A Christmas Carol.
Saini blames total trust in “academic freedom” to the fact that Mankind Quarterly wasn’t shut down right away and that racist academics are still employed by universities to still spread their pseudoscience while funded by Pioneer Fund. I personally think it is much simpler: academia is full of racists and eugenicists. They just hide it better these days, while beating their chests of being the biggest anti-racists on the planet.
I am not a racist but…
Some geneticists have very unorthodox ideas. These might sound like racism or eugenics to simple folks, but it is really high science. UK Biobank is apparently on board.
The only thing which left me confused in Saini’s article was: since when is the founder of Retraction Watch Ivan Oransky suddenly such a veteran champion of fighting scientific racism? What did I miss? Did Undark really need to extensively cite some famous white man’s views to balance Saini’s?
Stem cells save baby!
After Paolo Macchiarini and Paolo De Coppi, Britain celebrates another Italian surgeon who claims to save children’s lives with stem cells.
Here BBC reporting from 20 December 2022:
“Professor Massimo Caputo from the Bristol Heart Institute used pioneering stem cell injections to correct baby Finley’s heart defect. He hopes to develop the technology so children born with congenital cardiac disease won’t need as many operations.
Finley, now two, is “a happy growing little boy”.
But he was born with the main arteries in his heart the wrong way round and at just four days old had his first open-heart surgery at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.
Unfortunately the surgery did not solve the problem and his heart function deteriorated significantly, with the left side of the heart suffering from a severe lack of blood flow. After weeks in intensive care it looked like there was no conventional way to treat Finley’s condition and he was reliant on drugs to keep his heart going.
But a new procedure was tried, involving stem cells from a placenta bank. Prof Caputo injected the cells directly into Finley’s heart in the hope they would help damaged blood vessels grow.
The so-called “allogeneic” cells were grown by scientists at the Royal Free Hospital in London, and millions of them were injected into Finley’s heart muscle. Allogeneic cells have the ability to grow into tissue that is not rejected and in Finley’s case, have regenerated damaged heart muscle.
“We weaned him from all the drugs he was on, we weaned him from ventilation,” said Prof Caputo. “He was discharged from ITU and is now a happy growing little boy.”
Incidentally, Bristol University is where in 2008 the surgeon Martin Birchall (now at UCL) seeded a decellularized trachea with “stem cells” for Macchiarini’s first human transplant. In a veterinary lab. Without permission from the British authorities, in fact Birchall lied to them.
This is the English original of my story for Hipertextual, first published in Spanish on 27.10.2016. What did we learn from the trachea transplant scandal around the miracle surgeon and stem cell pioneer Paolo Macchiarini, who used to conduct his human experiments in Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden and Russia? That despite the stem cell fairy magic, all his…
But back to Caputo’s breakthrough. There was even this amazing thing with 3D bioprinting, BBC mentions:
Now, it is not clear why this breaking news suddenly arrives because Bristol University already celebrated this same operation exactly a year ago, with an interview with their cardiothoracic surgeon Filippo Rapetto in December 2021:
That 2021 Rapetto interview made no mention of that amazing “stem cell scaffold”, because most likely they just made it up for the BBC in 2022. Even the paper, where he is corresponding author, never mentioned the scaffold:
Filippo Rapetto, Demetris Taliotis, Qiang Chen, Iakovos Ttofi, Dominga Iacobazzi, Paolo Madeddu, Serban C. Stoica, Ben Weil, Mark W. Lowdell, and Massimo Caputo ‘Allogeneic Mesenchymal Stromal Cell Injection to Alleviate Ischemic Heart Failure Following Arterial Switch Operation‘ JACC: Case Reports (2022) dpoi: 10.1016/j.jaccas.2021.02.039
The breakthrough stem cell study appeared in a small teaching journal, is rather short on text and data (just one figure and some videos), and went from submission to acceptance for slightly over 2 weeks. Even without proper peer review, it doesn’t sound too triumphant about the regenerative capacities of umbilical cord blood which they call mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC):
“MSC injection does not resolve the culprit coronary lesion, and the exact mechanism of action in this particular patient cannot be precisely demonstrated. However, we observed a correlation between MSC injection and the patient’s clinical improvement; the rationale behind this specific application is that boosts of MSCs may aid the ischemic myocardium, thanks to their acknowledged proangiogenic activity.”
We are also informed:
But did you see who that central collaborator at the Royal Free Hospital in London is?
Mark Lowdell. Former trachea maker for Paolo Macchiarini and Martin Birchall, read here:
Martin Birchall’s two dead pigs to prove trachea transplants are safe
Imagine you are Martin Birchall, laryngologist and ENT surgeon, star of regenerative medicine at UCL and trachea transplant enthusiast. You and your business partner Videregen need to explain to EU bureaucrats why your technology of decellurised cadaveric trachea is perfectly safe, what with all the dead patients of yours and your former best friend Paolo…
Lowdell is obscenely rich, and he became a multimillionaire with biomedical
scams, pardon, stem cell enterprises. Most of them he runs via his private company INmune Bio (which in turn contracts with Advent Bioservices that has a base at a facility at the Royal Free Hospital which Lowdell directs as a public employee of the NHS. Advent is owned by Lowdell’s US partner Linda Powers, who in turn is a significant shareholder at Inmune Bio. Lowdell works as consultant for Advent and also for Northwest Biotherapeutics (where Powers is the CEO). It is via this latter company where Lowdell does business with the ineffective brain cancer vaccine DCVax (read details here); another of his business ventures is this very same umbilical cord business with the Anthony Nolan charity which contributed to the heart operation in Bristol.
Now, Lowdell also used to sell this donated umbilical cord tissue to the quack clinic of Aamer Khan, who in turn deployed it to sell cures for old age, cancer, hair loss, impotence and all possible diseases (read the full story here).
Khan was not the only quack Lowdell teamed up with to make big money with stem cell quackery. A Suresh Sudula of the “The Regenerative Clinic” still advertises:
LifePlus StemCells is the company Lowdell set up to turn umbilical cords donated to charity into money for himself.
Based on Patricia Murray’s investigations and Private Eye‘s reporting in May 2022, Lowdell had to close that business the next month (read here).
So how cool is this that the former pig abuser Lowdell found yet another money trough to stick his snout in, another use for his umbilical cord business, and another conceited surgeon partner to experiment on people under “compassionate use”.
I guess his reputation was a bit dented, hence the new BBC reporting to present the cord blood dealer Lowdell as baby saviour. But even there, he always remains unmentioned. Too toxic?
But back to Caputo. A reader found this in a paper by Cauto with his Bristol colleagues:
Myriam Cherif , Massimo Caputo , Yoshikazu Nakaoka , Gianni D. Angelini , Mohamed T. Ghorbel Gab1 Is Modulated by Chronic Hypoxia in Children with Cyanotic Congenital Heart Defect and Its Overexpression Reduces Apoptosis in Rat Neonatal Cardiomyocytes BioMed Research International (2015) doi: 10.1155/2015/718492
But then again, they say they saved a baby with stem cells, how dare we not to trust them.
If you are sick and tired of the microRNA bullshit, here is a press release by Dartmouth College:
“An international team led by researchers at Dartmouth College and the Max Delbrück Center (MDC) in Germany report in the journal Science Advances that octopuses are the first known invertebrates — creatures that lack a backbone and constitute roughly 95% of animal species — to contain a high number of gene-regulating molecules known as microRNAs.
The genes of two octopus species show an increase in microRNAs — which are linked to the development of advanced cells with specific functions — over evolutionary time that has so far only been found in humans, mammals and other vertebrates.
When combined with the known intelligence of octopuses, the findings provide crucial support for the theory that microRNAs are key to the evolution of intelligent life, said co-corresponding author Kevin Peterson, a Dartmouth professor of biological sciences.[…]
For the latest paper, Peterson’s group worked with the lab of co-corresponding author Nikolaus Rajewsky, professor of systems biology at MDC, which had a wealth of RNA data on octopus species, particularly the common octopus (Octopus vulgaris).”
This is the paper which will revolutionise evolutionary biology and everything else:
Grygoriy Zolotarov , Bastian Fromm , Ivano Legnini , Salah Ayoub , Gianluca Polese , Valeria Maselli , Peter J. Chabot , Jakob Vinther , Ruth Styfhals , Eve Seuntjens , Anna Di Cosmo , Kevin J. Peterson , Nikolaus Rajewsky MicroRNAs are deeply linked to the emergence of the complex octopus brain Science Advances (2022) doi: 10.1126/sciadv.add9938
Nah, we all know that octopi are that smart because they came from outer space.
Cure for everything
You probably miss new breakthrough COVID-19 cures, we haven’t had those in ages! Here is a press release by the Keck School of Medicine:
“A new study led by Amy S. Lee, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, finds that GRP78, a chaperone protein involved in the spread of other viruses, plays a critical role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The research also demonstrates that SARS-CoV-2 replication was significantly decreased by preventing GRP78 production or by inhibiting it through the use of a new targeted drug. […]
To further explore whether targeting GRP78 could work to treat COVID-19, the researchers tested a recently identified small molecule drug, known as HA15 on the infected lung cells. This drug, developed for use against cancer cells, specifically binds GRP78 and inhibits its activity.
““Lo and behold, we found that this drug was very effective in reducing the number and size of SARS-CoV-2 plaques produced in the infected cells, in safe doses which had no harmful effect on normal cells,” Lee said.
According to the study, which was recently published in the journal Nature Communications, this drug may potentially offer a new type of protection against COVID-19, one that might remain effective even as new strains develop.”
This is the paper:
Woo-Jin Shin, Dat P. Ha, Keigo Machida and Amy S. Lee, The stress-inducible ER chaperone GRP78/BiP is upregulated during SARS-CoV-2 infection and acts as a pro-viral protein Nature Communications (2022) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-34065-3
It is already being publicly criticised by scientists led by Michael Kracht in Matters Arising (Shaban et al 2022):
We are informed in the Conflicts of Interests section that Lee is a “scientific advisory board member of BiPER Therapeutics“. This French company, founded in 2021 by INSERM and CNRS researchers, describes itself as focussed on cancer drugs that “target BiP, an key protein involved in cancer cells survival“.
Hardly surprising that Lee also accidentally found that HA15 cures not just COVID-19, but also cancer, as per same press release:
“Separately, Lee and her colleagues at the Keck School of Medicine are studying the efficacy of HA15 in cancer, as well as another GRP78 inhibitor, YUM70, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Michigan. They discovered that HA15 and YUM70 can suppress the production of mutant KRAS proteins—a common mutation that tends to resist drug treatment—and reduce the viability of cancer cells bearing such mutations in pancreatic, lung, and colon cancer. Those findings, recently published in the journal Neoplasia, suggest targeting GRP78 may help combat these deadly cancers.
These are basic proof of principle studies; further research, including clinical trials, is needed to establish that HA15 and YUM70 are safe and effective for use in humans. These and other GRP78 inhibitors are now being tested as treatments for both COVID-19 and cancer. These drugs may also prove useful for treating future coronaviruses that depend on GRP78 for entry and replication, Lee said.”
This is the cancer paper, published in parallel with the COVID-19 one in September 2022:
Dat P. Ha, Bo Huang, Han Wang, Daisy Flores Rangel, Richard Van Krieken, Ze Liu, Soma Samanta, Nouri Neamati and Amy S. Lee, Targeting GRP78 suppresses oncogenic KRAS protein expression and reduces viability of cancer cells bearing various KRAS mutations Neoplasia (2022) DOI: 10.1016/j.neo.2022.100837
In that one, Dr Lee forgot to mention that she works for BiPER:
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Bristol Children’s Heart scandal, the gift that tragically keeps on giving.
Regarding the report on the “stem” cell heart story from Bristol, it is important to note that this intervention was only possible because it was performed under “compassionate use”. According to Article 37 of the Declaration of Helsinki, a physician “may use an unproven intervention if in the physician’s judgement it offers hope of saving life, re-establishing health or alleviating suffering.”
I am not sure what the justification was for administering the MSCs here given that clinical trials that have involved injecting MSCs into cardiac muscle have generally been disappointing (see comment here: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2728902)
As Prof John Rasko says in the following BBC Newsnight piece (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUfgvLN3vBg at 11:13): “Exercising the option of compassionate use brings with it great responsibility. It shouldn’t be used as a way for doctors to fly under the radar of properly undertaken regulated medical practice”.
The story also mentions a cell therapy called “DCVax-L” for the treatment of glioblastoma, developed by the controversial company, Northwest Biotherapeutics, who conducted a trial that lasted for more than 10 years. Although there was no significant difference in progression free survival between the patients who received DCVax-L and those that received placebo, the company claim it is successful. The most recent critique of DCVax-L states “the current data simply do not warrant application of DCVax-L in patients with newly diagnosed or recurrent glioblastoma. Our mission is not to give more treatments to patients but to deliver treatments that improve outcome, based on solid evidence and not speculation”. See here: https://doi.org/10.1093/neuonc/noac281
Despite this, approval has been given in the UK for DCVax-L to be sold to patients for £150,000-250,000 (depending on the number of doses) under “compassionate” use: https://nwbio.com/northwest-biotherapeutics-announces-commencement-of-cancer-vaccine-production-at-its-sawston-uk-facility/
It is worrying to think that patients and their families might be using their savings or re-mortgaging their homes to raise money for this.
Sabatini’s brother is coming after journalists now
”She is committing libel and should be careful” – sounds like italian mafia, take care you too, Leonid
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Interesting how this mTOR leaks site, which appears to be pro DMS, has leaked the report, which upon my limited reading so far makes him look, at the very least, extremely uncouth. More like a neanderthal in my opinion. I worked for 6 PI’s (all male) and not one of them displayed this much sex-obsessed adolescent behavior—not even close. With this out, he’ll NEVER get another job, except maybe in Russia. How stupid can you be?
Webster spotting: https://www.royalliteglobal.com/rjmhs/about/editorialTeam
If he can become faculty in China, Sabatini can go to Russia…..
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Bullshit microRNA? Why?
It would appear that Yolanda Spadavecchia is not above a bit of Raoult style trolling :).
1 year ago an attempt on PubPeer
and now a direct contact to the JACS editor. My response to the latter is
This has been dealt with by myself on Pubpeer some time ago:
and has not raised any issues with the community, for the simple reason that the critique is wrong and is trolling, a consequence of my then postdoc Dr Levy, the first author, uncovering a substantial fraud by Yolanda Spadavecchia in the institution in Paris where Dr Levy is now a full Professor. We have both been subject to such efforts by the perpetrators of this fraud, which is documented on Pubpeer here
and reported on by Leonid Schneider
and here, which also quotes from an article in Le Monde.
I am more than happy to guide someone through my answer on PubPeer or you can request a third party who works on nanoparticles and plasmon resonance for their opinion on the matter.
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Hi Dave, maybe you can share Spadavecchia’s letter to JACS editor with me?
How did Erick Carreira, a man know to be a kind and gentle soul and never an abusive bully, react?