Schneider Shorts of 27 January 2023 – Michigan professor out after fraud findings, Elsevier’s recruits Vietnam’s most-cited scholar as EiC, much-retracted gynecologist from Egypt loses PhD in Netherlands, anti-aging goes to the dogs, how to get fit, and finally, how an intrepid journal hunts the biggest research fraudster in science’s history.
Table of Discontent
- The Biggest Fraudster of All – Society journal Stem Cell Reports hunts a massive data forger
- Fuel in the Fire – Elsevier journal gets with Anh Tuan Hoang the perfect Editor-in-Chief
- Ahmed Badawy loses PhD – University of Utrecht sanctions fraudster gynecologist
- Chung Owyang out – after our reporting, Michigan kicks out gastroenterlogy professor for fraud
- Anti-aging goes to the dogs – George Church and Matt Kaeberlein salivate at prospects of cash
- Exercise with crap – German wunderkind in USA Christoph Thaiss publishes Nature clickbait
News in Tweets
The Biggest Fraudster of all
Folks, you are about to meet the biggest research fraudster in the history of science. The fraud case is so monstrous that you should sit down, take some pills or a stiff drink and put away all sharp things. Brace yourself.
Leonid Schneider , Serena Pellegatta , Rebecca Favaro , Federica Pisati , Paola Roncaglia , Giuseppe Testa , Silvia K. Nicolis , Gaetano Finocchiaro , Fabrizio D’Adda Di Fagagna DNA damage in mammalian neural stem cells leads to astrocytic differentiation mediated by BMP2 signaling through JAK-STAT Stem Cell Reports (2013) doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2013.06.004
Did you see who the first author is? Now, the evidence of fraud, posted anonymously in November 2022:
I only learned of this PubPeer post when my former lab boss Fabrizio d’Adda di Fagagna from IFOM institute in Milan, Italy, wrote to me some days ago that he received this message from the journal’s editorial office:
“Dear Dr Dadda,
It was brought to our attention that an anonymous comment was made on PubPeer on your Stem Cell Reports article “DNA damage in mammalian neural stem cells leads to astrocytic differentiation mediated by BMP2 signaling through JAK-STAT”. The comment refers to some wester blots in figure 5. We as a journal are obliged to follow-up and would like to ask you to kindly provide the raw data for those blots. The link to the comment can be found here: https://pubpeer.com/publications/F9F946FB3D506C673C2B57A2B6971A
We thank you for your cooperation and understanding.”
I did this western blot obviously, but I left all the raw data behind in Milan. In fact, I don’t even have the digital files anymore, the paper is almost 10 years old and I left Italy in 2012 and science by the end of 2014. But I posted this analysis on PubPeer:
Obviously there are no image manipulations. I also wrote to the journal Stem Cell Reports, which is published by the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) and Cell Press. Yvonne Fischer, the managing editor, replied to me:
“First, let me assure you that we have indeed carefully assessed the figure in question before sending our inquiry. From looking at the figure at its current resolution and without having the raw data available, it is in fact not entirely clear if the bands in question represent the same protein band, probed with the same antibody, or with different antibodies as you seem to suggest (one for phospho-ATM and one for ATM). Your explanations in this respect are most helpful, especially since the methods in the paper do not explicitly mention that western blot membranes were stripped and re-probed. Regarding the background issue, I can see that the one band in the phospho-ATM blot (red box) has a lower background than the rest of the bands on this blot, while the background on the ATM blot is homogeneous. Could you give some explanation to this considering that both blots were obtained with the same membrane (probed with different antibodies)?
As I mentioned in my previous email, we as a journal are obliged to follow up on allegations like this (of which we fortunately don’t see many at our office) and appreciate your help in this matter.“
I replied and explained to Fischer that there is no difference in background in those ATM bands. I also explained that the figure has only one loading control (vinculin), and to every scientist and qualified editor it should be clear that all these panels stem from the same western blot membrane. If they were not, each of them would have its own loading control, and I referred to Nature guidelines. It seems this practice was foreign to Stem Cell Reports, who must have been accepting western blot data without loading controls all these years.
I also explained that I do not own the raw data, but the publisher does, because the X-ray film scans of the western blots are embedded in the PowerPoint figures I uploaded back in 2013. I also suggested that Fischer asks Elsevier for technical assistance in analysing the figure instead of relying on red boxes someone painted. Fischer replied:
“we indeed take research integrity seriously and rely on the strong expertise of our editors and reviewers, all accomplished scientists and experts in their field as you will appreciate.
Regarding your specific question about loading control for western blots, we fully agree with the Nature guidelines you are citing, requiring that “Loading controls (e.g. GAPDH, actin) must be run on the same blot. When sample processing controls are run on different gels, they must be identified as such in the figure legend. ”
Your are correct in stating that Elsevier stores image files from papers published 10 years back, but this does not include the raw data which was never provided as far as I am aware.
I would also like to repeat that this procedures is part of our editorial routine and obligation, we do not at this point confirm or dismiss any allegations expressed on PubPeer. To conclude this discussion, it would be most helpful if you could send us the raw data for the blots in question, including methods for probing and re-probing of membranes.”
So she admits she has no evidence of suspect data irregularities but demands raw data anyway or else. She also refuses to consult any image integrity experts, but relies on verdicts of some academic editorial board members (who? Konrad Hochedlinger? George Daley perchance?)
Losing research ethics and mental health in Daley lab
A former Harvard postdoc from the lab of George Q Daley tells his story.
Lopez-Otin and Daley retract Nature Cell Biology paper
The 2015 Nature Cell Biology paper by the Spanish cancer researcher Carlos Lopez-Otin and his US partner George Q Daley, stem cell titan and dean of Harvard Medical School, is being retracted. First author and Lopez-Otin’s student Clara Soria-Valles caused Daley even more trouble: her next groundbreaking paper was meant to be already published, but…
Fischer also refused not only to look into those PowerPoint slides, but even to forward them to me so I can find the gel scans myself. Under pressure from journal, my former PI from Milan asked me to help him find raw data, and I told him how to do it (uncrop the gel images in PowerPoint, see gel number, search for numbered X-ray film in a folder).
I informed Fischer that her journal has real problems, like these Stem Cell Reports papers with clear evidence of data duplications:
On 20 January 2023, the Editor-in-Chief Martin Pera, professor at The Jackson Laboratory in USA, informed me:
He did not say the case is closed. He did not comment about Hochedlinger. Pera didn’t reply to any of my follow-up emails since. What if the raw data couldn’t be easily found? What then? Did they really plan to retract that paper even without any evidence of data manipulation, to take revenge on Schneider? Silence.
My other old papers and my PhD thesis were already exposed as utterly fraudulent on PubPeer before. With colourful labels and demands of raw data of course, see threads on Schneider et al 2017, Schneider et al 2008, and especially Schneider 2014.
It got so nasty, with accusations not just of fraud but even of data theft, that even Heike Lange, a research cheater I previously wrote about, came to defend me from ad hominem attacks (thanks for that, Heike!). Meanwhile, a certain Macchiarini-fan named Hans-Peter Müller was free to make unhinged claims and demand the revocation of my PhD degree, also because my thesis contains this smuggled cartoon:
Back then, no journal and no research institution took those claims seriously, because obviously there was no case, no evidence. But Stem Cell Reports moved very fast now, skipped internal image analysis, and progressed to demanding raw data, or else.
Now dear reader, this can happen to you as well if you piss up the wrong tree. All they have to do is to draw some red boxes and find the right editor.
Fuel in the Fire
Something strange is going on now in the Elsevier journal Fuel.
C. Prabhu , B. Navaneetha Krishnan , T. Prakash , V. Rajasekar , Dhinesh Balasubramanian , Van Vang Le , Nguyen Viet Linh Le , Phuoc Quy Phong Nguyen , Van Nhanh Nguyen Biodiesel unsaturation and the synergic effects of hydrogen sharing rate on the characteristics of a compression ignition engine in dual-fuel mode Fuel (2023) doi: 10.1016/j.fuel.2022.126699
Parashorea tomentella commented on PubPeer:
Who is this Anh Tuan Hoang? Well, since January 2023 he is the new Editor-in-Chief of this journal! Here is the celebratory reporting, translated from Vietnamese:
“Associate Professor-Dr. Hoang Anh Tuan (43 years old), lecturer at University of Technology , has officially become the Editor-in-Chief of Fuel , a journal in the list of ISI, Q1 with IF = 8,035, under the Publishing House, world leader Elsevier.
Sharing with PV of Thanh Nien Newspaper , from Spain, Associate Professor-Dr. Hoang Anh Tuan confirmed: “On January 12, I just signed a contract with Mr. Louise Glenn, Director of Elsevier Publishing House, to take on the role of Editor-in-Chief of Elsevier Publishing House journal Fuel. The mission of this position is to maintain the mission and reputation of the journal, with primary responsibility for selecting articles to be published in the journal on the basis of new, original, and high-profile contributions, important for knowledge of fuel science”.”
What was Hoang doing in Spain? Meeting the Highly Cited Researcher and the king of papermilling citation-trading cheaters, Rafael Luque, as the article proudly informs, with this photo:
The news article also informs us:
“The journal Fuel has three co-editors, one for the Americas and one for Europe and the UK. Associate Professor-Dr. Hoang Anh Tuan will be in charge of the Asia – Pacific region .
To become the Editor-in-Chief of Fuel , Assoc. Prof. Dr. Hoang Anh Tuan said that Elsevier Publishing House representative and manager of the magazine group in the field of energy-fuel will evaluate and screen candidates based on the data they have, available on the basis of the quality of the work, the contributions and the role of scientists in academic activities. After that, the Elsevier Publishing House representative and the magazine group manager will directly interview the candidates to choose the most suitable one.”
So what are his qualifications with which Hoang convinced Elsevier? Citation trading or citation extortion! The difference being whether he paid for those or not. Here are his earlier Elsevier activities:
Bhaskor J Bora , Thanh Dai Tran , Krushna Prasad Shadangi , Prabhakar Sharma , Zafar Said , Pankaj Kalita , Abdulrajak Buradi , Van Nhanh Nguyen , Hakeem Niyas , Minh Tuan Pham , Chau Thanh Nguyen Le , Viet Dung Tran , Xuan Phuong Nguyen Improving combustion and emission characteristics of a biogas/biodiesel-powered dual-fuel diesel engine through trade-off analysis of operation parameters using response surface methodology Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments (2022) doi: 10.1016/j.seta.2022.102455
Parashorea tomentella again:
Same journal, impact factor 7.6, Editor-in-Chief “Ioannis Ieropoulos, B.Eng (Hons), M.Sc (BRIS), PhD/Professor” from University of Southampton in UK:
Viet Duc Bui , Hoang Phuong Vu , Hoang Phuong Nguyen , Xuan Quang Duong , Dinh Tuyen Nguyen , Minh Tuan Pham , Phuoc Quy Phong Nguyen Techno-economic assessment and logistics management of biomass in the conversion progress to bioenergy Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments (2023) doi: 10.1016/j.seta.2022.102991
Alexander Magazinov notes:
“This review paper consists of about 12 pages of core text in which 408 references are accommodated. At least 69 of those are to the work of a certain AT Hoang.
Sometimes Hoang’s authorship is obscured. Here, at the cost of distorted authorship order:
 Jeyakumar N, Balasubramanian D, Kamaraj S, Pandian PL, et al. Experimental investigation on simultaneous production of bioethanol and biodiesel from macro-algae. Fuel 2022;329:125362. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fuel.2022.125362. [Nagarajan Jeyakumar, Anh Tuan Hoang, Sandro Nižetić, Dhinesh Balasubramanian, Sriram Kamaraj, Prakash Lakshmana Pandian, Ranjna Sirohi, Phuoc Quy Phong Nguyen, Xuan Phuong Nguyen]
And here, by providing an incomplete list of authors, even without “et al.”
 Bu VG, Le AT, Le VV. Combustion and emission characteristics of spark and compression ignition engine fueled with 2,5-dimethylfuran (DMF): A comprehensive review. Fuel 2021;288:119757. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fuel.2020.119757. [Anh Tuan Hoang, Sandro Nižetić, Van Viet Pham, Anh Tuan Le, Van Ga Bui, Van Vang Le]”
The Highly Cited Researchers of Clarivate
“here is my advice to Clarivate: better get lost. ” – Alexander Magazinov
Also this is Elsevier, note the coauthor, the Highly Cited Researcher and papermilling citation trader Changhe Li:
Zafar Said , Prabhakar Sharma , L. Syam Sundar , Changhe Li , Duy Cuong Tran , Nguyen Dang Khoa Pham , Xuan Phuong Nguyen Improving the thermal efficiency of a solar flat plate collector using MWCNT-Fe3O4/water hybrid nanofluids and ensemble machine learning Case Studies in Thermal Engineering (2022) doi: 10.1016/j.csite.2022.102448
Parashorea tomentella notes:
There is much more. This one is not in Elsevier, but some obscure and possibly predatory publisher called “ejournal”:
Quoc Bao Doan , Xuan Phuong Nguyen , Van Viet Pham , Thi Minh Hao Dong , Minh Tuan Pham , Tan Sang Le Performance and Emission Characteristics of Diesel Engine Using Ether Additives: A Review International Journal of Renewable Energy Development (2022) doi: 10.14710/ijred.2022.42522
And here is the long list of papers with bought or extorted citations to Hoang, courtesy of Maarten van Kampen:
Elsevier appointed Hoang as EiC exactly because he is a massive cheater, like his buddy Luque.
Ahmed Badawy loses PhD
The University of Utrecht in the Netherlands made this public announcement on 18 January 2023 about a revoked PhD degree:
“The Board for the Conferral of Doctoral Degrees (BCDD) of Utrecht University has assessed that a doctoral thesis dating back to 2008 does not meet important principles of academic integrity, such as diligence and accuracy, reliability and verifiability, and replication. The cases of negligence are of such scale and culpability that the doctoral thesis does not suffice as a test of competence to enter the profession. This means that the doctoral degree was unjustifiably granted. The BCDD has therefore withdrawn the granted degree.
It involves a PhD defence by an external PhD Candidate in 2008. Complaints have been filed with Utrecht University about the articles that make up the doctoral thesis, which have been assessed by the Committee for Research Integrity (CRI) of the university. […]
Various chapters in the dissertation consist of articles which have been published in academic journals. At the time of the assessment by the CRI (in May of 2022), journal editorial boards were already aware of problems in five of these articles and have already taken action based on their own investigations: two articles have been retracted, two articles have received an Expression of Concern and one article has received an Editor’s Note of Concern. The journals in which the four remaining articles were published will be informed about the withdrawing of the degree.”
The investigative report was made available here, the identity of the accused and his papers remain blackened out. I was however able to determine that the description applies very well to the Egyptian gynaecologist Ahmed Badawy.
It was Nick Brown who wrote about this fraud before, in a long and detailed blog post from October 2021:
“In this post I will discuss a set of 46 articles from the same institution that appear to show severe problems in many journals in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology. These are not entirely new discoveries; worrying overlaps among 35 of these articles have already been investigated in a commentary article from 2020 by Esmée Bordewijk and colleagues that critiqued 24 articles on which Dr Ahmed Badawy was lead author (19) or a co-author (5), plus 11 articles lead-authored by Dr Hatem Abu Hassim, who is Dr Badawy’s colleague in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Mansoura University in Egypt. Bordewijk et al. reported that they had detected a large number of apparent duplications in the summary statistics across those articles, which mostly describe randomized controlled trials carried out in the Mansoura ObGyn department. Nine of these articles appear as chapters in Dr Badawy’s PhD thesis , which he defended in December 2008 at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.“
Now, at the University of Utrecht’s library the 2008 PhD thesis of Ahmed Badawy is listed as not available for copyright reasons. This makes no sense for a 15 year old dissertation. An earlier archived version from June 2022 declared an “Embargo until 2050-01-01“, basically until many of the involved are dead. So I inquired about these excuses, and the spokesman of the University of Utrecht Maarten Post confirmed to me:
And then the library added the statement: “This thesis is retracted”:
Retraction Watch wrote about Badawy’s fraud in August 2021, citing the whistleblower Ben Mol, a Dutch professor of obstetrics and gynaecology in Australia, who reported one fake Badawy paper to the journal editor already in 2017. You can read about the editorial failure Mol experienced in that RW article.
Badawy now has 11 retractions. It is not clear if he still works at the Mansoura University in Egypt.
Chung Owyang out
The good news: a research fraudster has been kicked out by a US university after a misconduct investigation. Annoying news: I was the notifier, and they refused to tell me anything, but ran to leak the information to “respectable” journalists instead. It is about the University of Michigan professor of gastroenterology, Chung Owyang and his former mentee Ying Li (now professor in Hong Kong, in China), whose fake neuroscience (and animal abuse) were reported by Smut Clyde on For Better Science, and then reported by me to University of Michigan in October 2019.
Real rats tortured for fake neuroscience
Smut Clyde complained of his eyes hurting from all these repetitive patterns in neuron recordings. He now recovered, and wrote this report, about rat torturers of Michigan.
The university opened an investigation, I was even interviewed over Zoom. More recently, first one, then four more of Owyang’s papers were retracted.
Prior to that, in March 2022, Owyang received an award from the American Gastroenterological Association:
When the first retraction appeared, I tried to get access to the investigative report or its summary, or any updates at all. The investigator who interviewed me said he was not allowed to tell me anything and suggested I lodge a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) inquiry. Which I did, but the University of Michigan announced an extension to their reply by 30 January 2023.
Turns out, that was because they were busy leaking the information to “proper” journalists. Like here, to the local newspaper mlive, or Detroit News:
A University of Michigan gastroenterology researcher is no longer employed by the university following the retraction of five academic papers in scholarly journals due to what one academic journal called the “falsification” and “fabrication” of data involving millions of federal research dollars.
Chung Owyang — formerly chief of UM’s Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, according to the Mayo Clinic, and a medical researcher — left the university as of Jan. 2, UM spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen said Tuesday. He is listed as a retiree in online UM records.
It was unclear how the purported falsifications or fabrications came to the attention of UM. But the retraction notices posted by the academic journals said the University of Michigan requested the retractions following a review by a university research misconduct investigation committee.”
Indeed, what a mystery of “how the purported falsifications or fabrications came to the attention of UM“. To this end, Ivan Oransky of Retraction Watch was interviewed. This however, is indeed interesting:
Very good, the original point of Smut Clyde’s and mine article from 2019 was the torture of rats by Owyang and Li, for the purpose of data forgery. I hope Budkie sees this through now.
In 2013, Owyang gave in China a keynote talk on “How to Write and Publish High-Level Scientific Research Papers Writing an Manuscript for High Impact Journals“. We all know what his secret was. Owyang’s salary at University of Michigan used to be almost a quarter a million of dollars a year. Plus his private medical and business activities I guess.
Elisabeth Bik found more forgeries in other Owyang papers, so far uninvestigated because freshly published:
Ji-Yao Li , Merritt Gillilland , Allen A. Lee , Xiaoyin Wu , Shi-Yi Zhou , Chung Owyang Secondary bile acids mediate high-fat diet–induced upregulation of R-spondin 3 and intestinal epithelial proliferation JCI Insight (2022) doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.148309
Gintautas Grabauskas , Xiaoyin Wu , Jun Gao , Ji-Yao Li , Danielle Kim Turgeon , Chung Owyang Prostaglandin E2, Produced by Mast Cells in Colon Tissues From Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Contributes to Visceral Hypersensitivity in Mice Gastroenterology (2020) doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2020.02.022
Also Ying Li, now professor in Hong Kong, continued with same kind of data forgery, as spotted by Tulipa fosteriana:
Mahadi Hasan , Zhuogui Lei , Mastura Akter , Zafar Iqbal , Faeeqa Usaila , Aruna Surendran Ramkrishnan , Ying Li Chemogenetic activation of astrocytes promotes remyelination and restores cognitive deficits in visceral hypersensitive rats iScience (2023) doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.105840
For me the case is closed, why wasting my time chasing that misconduct report if other journos get chased by UM begging them to read it. I wrote to the University of Michigan that they can shove that FOIA inquiry and its extension up their arse now. In these words.
Anti-aging goes to the dogs
George Church, god-impersonator, colossal wanker and MIT professor deified by gullible media for his entrepreneurial activities in eugenics, anti-aging and de-extiction of mammoths, dinosaurs and Neanderthals, found another cunning way to make oodles of cash. Church must have figured out that pushing bullshit anti-aging cures to old rich gits might land him in trouble one day. So now he peddles bullshit anti-aging cures to old rich gits’ dogs. Same money almost, no paperwork, and zero risk.
It is about Church’s new company Rejuvenate Bio, establish in unofficial collaboration with another anti-aging scammer, David Sinclair (a Harvard professor). I previously briefly wrote about their latest anti-aging crap.
National Georgaphic reports ecstatically:
Rejuvenate Bio’s RJB-01 therapy is not described in detail, but the company website shows it’s a combo of FGF21 and a soluble TGFb receptor, designed for “cardiac, metabolic, renal, animal health”. There is also RJB-02 which includes the protein Klotho.
National Geographic continues:
“Their treatment grew out of experiments led by Noah Davidson, then a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Harvard biologist George Church. […]
He and his colleagues zeroed in on three genes known to promote healthy aging and longer life in genetically engineered mice. He theorized that an extra copy of any of these genes, or maybe all of them, would have broad health benefits in normal mice. The team created a therapy from each gene and tested them all in mice, one therapy at a time and in two- and three-gene cocktails. In a 2019 paper in PNAS, the scientists reported that a single dose of a two-gene combo mitigated four age-related ailments: type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart failure, and kidney failure.
Rejuvenate Bio, co-founded by Church, Davidson and Daniel Oliver, quickly jumped to tests on dogs.”
We are told how Church’s and Davidson’s company is making money by making wealthy folks’ dogs immortal (or at least curing them of old age):
“Rejuvenate Bio has not announced the results, but it has partnered with an animal health company and plans to seek FDA approval for the canine gene therapy. The startup also plans to recode the gene cocktail for human use and test it for two ailments: arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, which breaks down part of the heart’s muscular wall and increases the risk of irregular heartbeat and sudden death; and familial partial lipodystrophy, a disorder of abnormal fat storage that leads to diabetes, an enlarged liver, and other health problems in adulthood.”
The Nat Geo article also informs us about other scholarly heavy-lifters, like this one:
“Biologist Matt Kaeberlein at the University of Washington co-directs the Dog Aging Project, the most ambitious effort to try to crack the code on canine longevity and glean the secrets it holds for humans. Started in 2019, the project has enrolled nearly 40,000 pet dogs of all kinds in a 10-year study to identify the biological, environmental, and genetic factors that promote healthy longevity. […]
Kaeberlein is also leading a trial of rapamycin, an immunosuppressant approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for organ transplant patients, in 580 dogs. Dozens of studies have shown it extends the lives of mice and other model organisms.
Some scientists consider rapamycin one of the most promising candidates for a human longevity drug. More than a few people take it off-label for that purpose. Kaeberlein has put out the word that he’d like them to send him information on their health. He also pops a low-dose rapamycin pill weekly, in intermittent 10-week-cycles, and is beginning to monitor the effects on his blood biomarkers and epigenome.”
While advertising for greedy anti-aging scams (like Rejuvenate Bio and Loyal), Nat Geo must have been worried not to appear as too much business advertising, so the professional journalists forgot to mention that Kaeberlein is co-founder and Chief Science Officer of Optispan Ventures, an anti-aging business which is about to open a “wellness clinic“. Not for dogs, for rich humans.
Exercise with crap
A press release by University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine:
“According to a study published in Nature, led by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, certain types of gut bacteria can activate nerves in the gut to increase the drive to exercise. The study in mice identified a gut-to-brain pathway that explains how these bacteria can enhance exercise performance.
The study found that variations in running performance among a group of lab mice were mainly caused by the presence of specific gut bacterial species in the mice with better performance. The researchers identified that this effect is linked to the small molecules called metabolites that these bacteria produce. These metabolites activate sensory nerves in the gut which in turn, increase activity in a brain region that controls motivation during exercise.
“If we can confirm the presence of a similar pathway in humans, it could offer an effective way to boost people’s levels of exercise to improve public health generally,” said study senior author Christoph Thaiss, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Microbiology at Penn Medicine.”
If it’s in Nature, it’s an indisputable scientific fact ready for textbooks, right?
Lenka Dohnalová, Patrick Lundgren, Jamie R. E. Carty, Nitsan Goldstein, Sebastian L. Wenski, Pakjira Nanudorn, Sirinthra Thiengmag, Kuei-Pin Huang, Lev Litichevskiy, Hélène C. Descamps, Karthikeyani Chellappa, Ana Glassman, Susanne Kessler, Jihee Kim, Timothy O. Cox, Oxana Dmitrieva-Posocco, Andrea C. Wong, Erik L. Allman, Soumita Ghosh, Nitika Sharma, Kasturi Sengupta, Belinda Cornes, Nitai Dean, Gary A. Churchill, Tejvir S. Khurana, Mark A. Sellmyer, Garret A. FitzGerald, Andrew D. Patterson, Joseph A. Baur, Amber L. Alhadeff, Eric J. N. Helfrich, Maayan Levy, J. Nicholas Betley and Christoph A. Thaiss, “A microbiome-dependent gut–brain pathway regulates motivation for exercise” Nature (2022) DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-05525-z
The Nature paper mentions that “The authors declare no competing interests” but the press release basically promises supplement pills for athleticism, and not just that:
““This gut-to-brain motivation pathway might have evolved to connect nutrient availability and the state of the gut bacterial population to the readiness to engage in prolonged physical activity,” said study co-author, J. Nicholas Betley, Ph.D., an associate professor of Biology at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts and Sciences. “This line of research could develop into a whole new branch of exercise physiology.” […]
Apart from possibly offering cheap, safe, diet-based ways of getting ordinary people running and optimizing elite athletes’ performance, he added, the exploration of this pathway might also yield easier methods for modifying motivation and mood in settings such as addiction and depression.”
The German-born researcher Thaiss is considered to be a Wunderkind of biomedicine, the former Weizmann Institute (Israel) researcher publishes his microbiome discoveries in all the top journals and is showered with prizes. E.g, he previously got awarded in Germany for proving (also in Nature) that gut microbiome is responsible for adipositas.
I agree Thaoss’ scientific discoveries are great clickbait. And to be honest, this is what science is all about.
News in Tweets
- In Italy (and in USA) they still worship Carlo Croce. Corriere Della Sera writes how the poor genius is being persecuted by critics he sued and his own lawyers demanding he pays their bills. A quote: “Nobel Prize-winning biologist Phillip Sharp of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology defended him: «I would say that Carlo has made some important contributions to the identification of the molecular causes of cancer. I don’t approve of a certain “carelessness” that characterizes him, but if I look at what he has achieved from a historical point of view and if I remove Carlo from the scientific community, I think it will become impoverished and this does not apply to anyone who publishes essays in scientific journals».” I say check Sharp’s papers also, he would be not the first Nobelist who published fake science.
- A retraction for cheating Alzheimer’s researcher Domenico Pratico, Vagnozzi et al 2021: “The Editor-in-Chief has retracted this article. After publication, concerns were raised regarding the western blot data presented in the article. […] Domenico Praticò does not agree to this retraction. None of the other authors have responded to any correspondence from the editor or publisher about this retraction.” It does look like the Temple University is simply refusing to investigate Pratico.
The Pratfalls of Domenico Pratico
Next time you wonder why mouse research does not translate to humans, think of Domenico Pratico work on Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases.
Research misconduct: Theory & Pratico
A whistleblower tried to report fraud in Domenico Pratico’s papers via proper channels, and hit a wall everywhere.
- Mahmoud Sitohy explains: “Actually, we do not have any original membrane of this test since it was conducted about 4-5 years ago by a specific scientific analytical lab and they do not keep the samples, especially the ones containing the virus, for long time.” Ashraf Abdelbacki adds: “this article has been published since 2010 and it was the top cited paper for a long time and during these 13 years many of the researchers cited this paper and read it and most of them are expertise’s.“
- E C Chang about fake plots of Zheng et al Oncogene 2012: “This was done more than a decade ago before we had sophisticated plotting softwares. So it was possible the bars were drawn by hand to match the calculation. No matter what, it does not change the main point that there is no statistically significant difference between these three treatments. The ultimate test is laboratory validation.“
- As Smut Clyde pointed out, the Louisiana State University professor of psychology Johnny L Matson (“I am a 3 time recipient of the Thomson Reuters World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds and a 2 time recipient of the Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers awards“) already has 24 retractions (as per RetractionWatch database), mostly for “fake peer review” and hidden conflicts of interests. From Neuroskeptic’s blog in Discover magazine from 2015: “Johnny Matson and/or his family seem to have a direct financial interest in the promotion of Matson’s various assessment kits.[…] Matson does not declare any conflict of interest (CoI) in his academic papers, even when the topic of the paper is his own instruments.“
- “A Utah plastic surgeon and three of his associates are facing federal charges for a year-long scheme in which they allegedly squirted around 2,000 vaccine doses down the drain, sold falsified vaccination cards for $50 each, and tricked kids into thinking they were vaccinated against COVID-19 by injecting them with saline, collectively, 391 times. Federal prosecutors last week indicted Dr. Michael Kirk Moore Jr., who owns and operates Plastic Surgery Institute of Utah in Midvale, south of Salt Lake City, as well as the business’ office manager, Kari Dee Burgoyne, its receptionist, Sandra Flores, and a neighbor of Moore’s, Kristin Jackson Andersen. All four are charged with conspiracy to defraud the federal government, along with two counts related to improper disposal of government property.” (Ars Technica)
- I don’t get it. What is Frontiers investigating and why? Don’t they trust their own peer review, which is the most rigorous in the known universe? Retraction Watch: “The publisher Frontiers has published an expression of concern for an article that proposed “ivermectin protects against COVID-19” via effects on the microbiome. The article, “Microbiome-Based Hypothesis on Ivermectin’s Mechanism in COVID-19: Ivermectin Feeds Bifidobacteria to Boost Immunity,” was published in July 2022 in Frontiers in Microbiology. The sole author, Sabine Hazan, [….] Hazan did not reply to Retraction Watch’s request for comment, but an account on Twitter that interacts with her frequently and called her a “beautiful, intelligent, innovative woman-of-color scientist,” tagged us in a tweet after we sent our email.” Seems RW is desperate for credit of uncovering the Hazan bullshit before someone finds our articles.
Ivermectin now against COVID-19, because
Dr Peter McCullough, Dr Sabine Hazan, and other ivermectin quacks. Follow Smut Clyde’s descent to the antivaxxer hell.
- “Christian Drosten, a scientist from Germany, responded. Among other things, he wrote: “Can someone help me with one question: didn’t we congregate to challenge a certain theory, and if we could, drop it?” “Who came up with this story in the beginning?” he added. “Are we working on debunking our own conspiracy theory?”” (The Intercept)
The Lab Leak Theory
A lab leak theory of the COVID-19 origins has enough circumstantial evidence and historical basis to support the urgent need for an independent and unbiased investigation. But until recently, scientists dismissed lab leak as a conspiracy theory. In public at least.
- Luckily this bullshit contribution in WaPo by a “science journalist” named David Quammen (who is currently promoting his book) is paywalled.
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Ah-ah ! You are obviously not “The biggest fraudster”. Amusing “retour de manivelle.”
“three genes known to promote healthy aging and longer life in genetically engineered mice”
AFAIK you can do anything to mice and it makes them live longer. The question about mice that everyone should be asking is “why are mouse lifetimes so short, compared to related rodents?”
Evolution really hated mice, but apart from that they have little to teach the rest of us.
You are too optimistic about those studies which extend mouse lifes.
hi Leonid, thanks alot for sorting out the details about the revoked PhD thesis of Ahmed Badawy.
Do you happen to have any idea about the current whereabouts about his supervisor Nicholas Macklon?
A profile at https://profs.library.uu.nl/index.php/profrec/getprofdata/1330/12/145/0 reveals that Macklon is 59 years old and that he is still listed as a full professor at UU.
https://www.umcutrecht.nl/en/Research/Researchers/ does not provide any evidence that Macklon is still employed by UMC Utrecht.
A news item from April 2009 at https://dub.uu.nl/nl/content/%E2%80%98geen-sprake-van-commercieel-onderzoek%E2%80%99 reports another issue with research conducted by Nicholas Macklon.
“Rejuvenate Bio, co-founded by Church, Davidson and Daniel Oliver, quickly jumped to tests on dogs.”
Companion dogs have been bred for short life-spans, so again they are not really useful guides for longevity in the rest of us.
For example, gray wolves, the domestic dog’s closest ancestor, at ~40 kg can live up to 20.6 yr of age (43, 44), whereas a similarly sized domestic dog (i.e., Cane corso), lives on average 10–12 yr of age (American Kennel Club).
A pedigree dog doesn’t have to actually live longer, it suffices that Church et al assure their paying customers that without their magic therapy the dog would have died even earlier!
Same thing Macchiarini and Walles told to the families of their dead patients, and readers of their peer-reviewed papers.
Glad to see that cocky/smug Michigan guy is no longer wasting taxpayer money. He might pull a Thomas Webster and move to China, where I imagine he will do better as they care less about animal welfare and reproducibility.
Now, if Georgia State could do the same thing!
Yes, agree. Looks like Leonid’s reporting made a difference. Too bad this is happening after such a long and succesfull career when more honest people could have benefited from the same taxpayer money.
As Principal Editor (Americas) of Fuel, I learned this past week that Dr Hoang was named Principal Editor for the Asia Region. Editors are appointed by the publisher (Elsevier); I was not consulted about or aware of this appointment prior to its announcement.
I want to assure our authors and readers that I take these concerns very seriously and will do everything I can to ensure transparency, equity, and adherence to the highest standards of professional ethics in Fuel.
Elsevier has already begun investigating these allegations, and I will be in touch with the publishing team regularly until this matter is resolved.
Great to hear and good luck!
Celebrating this Luque’s poop into Fuel? And conspiring for more?
Eric Lander is getting ”uncanceled”
”Politico published an article reporting complaints that Lander was sexist, had bullied staffers, and had created a toxic culture. Lander instantly resigned. He apologized to Biden for unintentionally “being disrespectful and demeaning” to some colleagues, and wrote, “I will take this lesson forward.”
”That apology seemed to help fuel a public shaming. The American Association for the Advancement of Science immediately disinvited Lander from speaking at its annual conference, issuing a statement that his reported conduct was not “befitting a scientist or scientific leader.” Top journals like Science and Nature referred to him as “disgraced,” part of a media pile-on that cast him as “a brilliant jerk.” In Scientific American, Harvard science historian Naomi Oreskes said Lander made her think of the killer Raskolnikov from “Crime and Punishment.”
In the aftermath, Lander, long a leading voice on science issues, fell publicly silent. But now that his two years of leave from the Broad have ended, he will return to his tenured faculty position at the institute, though not as director.
For months, he’d been reduced to a symbol of every mean boss and of the ongoing reckoning by American science with problematic conduct by powerful lab leaders.
But judging by interviews with more than 20 of his colleagues in recent weeks, Lander, 65, could also be a symbol for something else: That, sometimes, such cancellations — and the use of toxic words like “bully” and “sexist” — can involve a rush to judgment, a simplification by a vocal few that does not necessarily stand up to broader scrutiny.”
Dang, just when I was about to joke that Boston Globe will write about Sabatini next..
The Boston Globe: Whitehead Institute sexual harassment allegations: Inside the fall of a star MIT scientist.
Alternative title: Bullying bullshitter Lander fails to make it big in biotech, crawls back for academic demotion.
Breaking News: US Energy Department supporting Lab Leak Theory… how this? Are they ignoring excellent research of excellent researchers in high-impact journals??
LikeLiked by 1 person
Unlike the crap in Lancet, Nature and Science, DOE report is not peer reviewed!
Ignoring the virtue signaling of Angie Rasmussen? How dare they!
Oh, Angie, don’t you weep
All your tweets still taste sweet
I hate that sadness in your eyes
But, Angie, Angie
Ain’t it time we said goodbye, yeah?
As a child of the 70’s, I prefer Helen Reddy:
….your a special lady….
….living in the world of make believe…..
FYI, retraction #6 for Owyang and friends:
” JCI Insight previously issued a corrigendum to update the source of the TRESK and CCK-AR antibodies used for immunocytochemistry; however, the antibodies listed in the corrigendum were not correct (1). The institutional investigation determined that there was falsification of immunocytochemistry data by the improper description of the species of antibody used in Figure 2 and that falsified data were intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly included in the publication. Due to the intentional inclusion of falsified data and continued concerns over the identity of antibodies, JCI Insight is retracting this article.”
Translation:. JCI thought all these allegations against Owyang et al was slanderous dreck by snivelling failed scientist losers. Hence the correction.
Unfortunately JCI had to comply with the request of a major US university. Bugger.
Damn that Schneider and damn that Smut Clyde.