Schneider Shorts

Schneider Shorts 3.02.2023 – Where have all retractions gone?

Schneider Shorts 3.02.2023 - German trachea transplanters forgot to retract 7 papers, a bullying psychologist in Sweden, a colossal wanker with a dodo, ERC thanks an expert, German EiC leaves havoc behind, an EMBO editor has some explaining to do, and finally, how ethics at Cambridge and Oxford University Presses work.

Schneider Shorts of 3 February 2023 – German trachea transplanters forgot to retract 7 papers, a bullying psychologist in Sweden, a colossal wanker with a dodo, ERC thanks an expert, German EiC leaves havoc behind, an EMBO editor has some explaining to do, and finally, how ethics at Cambridge and Oxford University Presses work.

Table of Discontent

Science Elites

Scholarly Publishing

News in Tweets

Science Elites

Where have all retractions gone?

If you miss those charming German trachea transplanters Heike and Thorsten Walles (who in court insisted that Paolo Macchiarini learned his skills from them, and not they from him), well there are some news.

For background, read this most recent article:

Heike Walles guilty of research misconduct

Former star of German regenerative medicine Heike Walles gets slapped with research misconduct and a retraction by her former employer, the University of Würzburg. She and her husband, the Macchiarini-trained surgeon Thorsten Walles, left Würzburg years ago for Magdeburg where nobody minds.

That was one retraction, and just for Heike, from the couple’s previous employer, the University of Würzburg. Now the following thing happened at their even older place of work, the Hannover Medical School, abbreviated MHH (where their former boss Macchiarini still holds an adjunct professorship, btw).

Matthias Gaestel, MHH professor and deputy head of the university’s Commission for Good Scientific Practice, posted this on PubPeer, for seven Walles papers:

” This publication was the subject of an investigation by the Commission for Good Scientific Practice (GSP Commission) of Hannover Medical School (MHH). Upon recommendation of the Commission, the MHH President requested the authors to retract this publication in April 2019. As this publication has still not been retracted by January 12, 2023, the MHH President has instructed the Chair of the GSP Commission to publish this commentary.”

It should be mentioned that before she married the surgeon trainee Thorsten, the biologist Heike Walles used to carry the family name of her previous husband, Jürgen Mertsching (who is head of biosafety at MHH).

It’s seven papers in total slotted for retractions which so far didn’t happen. Let’s start with a preclinical paper which soon led to Walleses’ disastrous tracheal patch transplants in Stuttgart (the first one was done with Macchiarini at MHH):

Heike Mertsching , Thorsten Walles , Michael Hofmann , Johanna Schanz , Wolfram H. Knapp Engineering of a vascularized scaffold for artificial tissue and organ generation Biomaterials (2005) doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2005.04.048 

Same gel, different experiments, in one case the gel lane with the right-most band was digitally erased. Here a set of three papers with recycled data:

Klaus Kallenbach , Rainer G. Leyh , Elena Lefik , Thorsten Walles , Matthias Wilhelmi , Serghei Cebotari , Andreas Schmiedl , Axel Haverich , Heike Mertsching Guided tissue regeneration: porcine matrix does not transmit PERV Biomaterials (2004) doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2003.10.040 

Rainer G Leyh , Mathias Wilhelmi , Philip Rebe , Stefan Fischer , Theo Kofidis , Axel Haverich , Heike Mertsching In vivo repopulation of xenogeneic and allogeneic acellular valve matrix conduits in the pulmonary circulation The Annals of Thoracic Surgery (2003) doi: 10.1016/s0003-4975(02)04845-2 

Thorsten Walles , Heidi Görler , Carmen Puschmann , Heike Mertsching Functional neointima characterization of vascular prostheses in human The Annals of Thoracic Surgery (2004) doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2003.08.048 

One of Walleses coauthors there is their former MHH Über-boss, the almighty heart surgeon and entrepreneur Axel Haverich (read below).

Regenerating in Hannover, Part 1: how Macchiarini got ideas

The trachea surgeon and formerly world-renowned stem cell pioneer Paolo Macchiarini, whose human experimenting left most of his trachea-transplant patients dead or in permanent emergency care, certainly did not intend to restrict himself to regenerating airways. He wanted to grow hearts, and he was likely to have been inspired by his former colleagues in Hannover,…

Here are three more Walles papers with Haverich to be retracted:

Thorsten Walles , Arthur Lichtenberg , Carmen Puschmann , Rainer Leyh , Mathias Wilhelmi , Klaus Kallenbach , Axel Haverich , Heike Mertsching In vivo model for cross-species porcine endogenous retrovirus transmission using tissue engineered pulmonary arteries European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery (2003) doi: 10.1016/s1010-7940(03)00334-8 

Thorsten Walles , Tanja Herden , Axel Haverich , Heike Mertsching Influence of scaffold thickness and scaffold composition on bioartificial graft survival Biomaterials (2003) doi: 10.1016/s0142-9612(02)00490-8 

R.G Leyh , M Wilhelmi , T Walles , K Kallenbach , P Rebe , A Oberbeck , T Herden , A Haverich , H Mertsching Acellularized porcine heart valve scaffolds for heart valve tissue engineering and the risk of cross-species transmission of porcine endogenous retrovirus Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery (2003) doi: 10.1016/s0022-5223(03)00353-2 

In November 2021, the publisher Oxford University Press however decided that MHH investigators can piss off with their retraction requests and issued a Corrigendum instead:

“The authors regret, that initially the right to reproduce figures 1a and 1 b was not obtained. This has now been done and the figure legend has been updated accordingly.”

The Editor-in-Chief of European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery is the German surgery professor at the University of Freiburg, Matthias Siepe. He doesn’t answer to my emails. I guess this is how German medical ethics work for trachea transplanters!

Karolinska gets taught German medical ethics

In the aftermath of the scandal around Paolo Macchiarini, which left many patients dead, his former employer Karolinska Institutet requested a retraction a paper. The Swiss-German medical publisher Karger and its journal Respiration however categorically refused and ordered KI not “to patronize the readers of the journal ‘Respiration’.” The German Editor-in-Chief had namely a huge…

I asked the MHH investigator Gaestel for the investigative report or its summary (with 7 retraction requests, there must have been research misconduct findings!). Gaestel announced to check with his commission colleagues.

I also contacted the editors of the affected journals, the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (Fraunhofer IGB) in Stuttgart (responsible for more fake papers and two disastrous tracheal transplants in humans), and Walles’ current employer, the University of Magdeburg (where they are treated like science stars). It is still unclear if Fraunhofer ever did their own investigation as agreed with the MHH and the University of Würzburg, but it becomes rather clear that the Magdeburg leadership knew about the 7 retraction requests since 2019 and never ordered Walleses to comply with them. In fact, when challenged to deny that they wilfully sabotaged those retractions, the Magdeburg leadership remained silent.

Walles court trial against me ends with “amicable settlement”

The court trial against me by German trachea transplanters Heike and Thorsten Walles ended with the settlement in the appeal court in Bamberg. A costly one, which I had to accept, giving the danger of seeing me and my family driven to bankruptcy before the next very costly court instance can even be invoked for my…

Charming Bully

The Swedish magazine Psykolog reports a bullying scandal at the University of Uppsala:

“Eleven former PhD students in Sweden and England accuse a professor of psychology of having bullied them systematically. The researchers have suffered from stress reactions that have led to vision impairment, sleep disorders, and suicidal thoughts.”

It started in Oxford, UK, where the unnamed psychologist bullied her subordinates: “at least someone in the group was picked on at all times“, “censure and praise was given unpredictably“, people brought to crying in boss’ office.

“When rumour of the toxic work environment started to spread in Oxford, the professor got a new post in Cambridge. New PhD students were recruited. One of them would later inform the leadership of her trying conditions. A decision was made that the PhD student would never again have to meet the professor alone.

The professor kept getting lots of articles published.

Karolinska Institutet got wind of her successes, noted that the professor had Swedish roots and offered a part-time visiting professorship.”

Karolinska “had heard a few rumours of difficulty in co-operation” but recruited the star psychologist anyway.

“There were whispers of the harsh work environment in the professor’s research team at Karolinska Institutet as well. One of the former PhD students – we’ll call her Rebecka – recounts what happened […]

“On the surface, everything is more than great. We were the chosen ones, the elite. But behind our closed doors a darkness filled with punishments and fear welled up.”

The leadership pondered how to handle the situation. A decision was made that one of the PhD students would not have to meet her advisor without supervision. After that, the problem solved itself. The professor announced that she had accepted full-time employment at the university of Uppsala. The management there had not bothered with references, just as at Karolinska Institutet. The university of Uppsala had applied a special provision in the higher education ordinance, which states that a professor of special standing may be recruited without advertising the post.”

In Uppsala, the bullying continued. Someone complained, the faculty sent out an anonymous survey about the work environment which people didn’t dare to answer honestly because they survey wasn’t entirely anonymous after all.

It is extremely easy to find out the real identity of this psychology professor. It’s Emily Holmes, and on her photos she looks like an angel, the nicest person possible. Her institutional page informs us:

“My driving force is improving mental health through science.”

Through bullying, rather. Psykolog published excerpts from victim testimonies, I quote some:

  • “I tried to give notice, since I was completely stressed out. I was told that I only thought of myself and lacked empathy. Then she added that the world of research is small, which I perceived as a threat.”
  • “Tasks were taken away from me. I did not understand why. I was also told that my name would be removed from an article. When I called this into question – I had worked my fingers to the bone for months – I was told to get out of her room.”
  • I had been working seven days a week for months on end and always carried my computer around to be able to answer questions quickly.”
  • “….everything I did was wrong. My name was expunged from an article, and I could not do anything about it. I contemplated suicide and still attend therapy sessions.”
  • “At one time it became known that we in the group had talked about one of us being bullied and that this was dreadful. We were all given an earful, since we were supposed to speak to her of any problems, not with each other.
  • The first week I overheard a researcher being told off through a closed door during a Zoom meeting. Each and every week someone on the research team was the special victim. I got palpitations of the heart because of all the stress.”

Holmes did not reply to my email. She told Psykolog:

I am deeply sorry to hear that the people you have interviewed felt bad, and feel very saddened to hear this.

Lander uncancelled

The Boston Globe went full social justice warrior and took upon themselves to defend the most persecuted minority group ever, which are of course the wealthy heterosexual white males.

There are now two articles in defence of unjustly cancelled victims of the woke mob harassment: the sexual harasser and research cheater David Sabatini (sacked by MIT) and the multi-millionaire geneticist Eric Lander, who a year ago was dismissed as President Biden’s freshly appointed science czar over massive bullying (read here).

The Sex Privileges of mTORman David Sabatini

“The Plaintiff is Professor Sabatini […] the self-described powerful senior scientist, who had demanded sex of her when she was a graduate student ending her studies and about to start a fellowship at the Whitehead, in a program Sabatini would direct. […] And it is the man who had made it clear – throughout her…

This was the teary Sabatini article, and this one, also by Boston Globe, laments about Lander:

“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.”

Now, nobody is sadder than me when a rich white professorial wanker is punished for doing what he thought was his sacred privilege as an entitled genius: abusing his property, erm, his lab members in every way he feels like.

But I find it funny that Lander now returns to Broad Institute to work as a humble PI. First, he doesn’t need the money, Lander is very rich, $45.5 million. And didn’t he have a successful business?

Together with a certain cancer cheater from MD Anderson, Raghu Kalluri, Lander once founded a multi-million heavy biotech company named Codiak Biosciences. Its founding technology is based on Sonia Melo’s fraudulent data and other phony trash from Kalluri’s lab.

Sonia Melo case: PhD advisor Esteller sham-investigated, postdoc PI Kalluri with $ 80Mio COI

Sonia Melo, Portuguese cancer researcher and recipient of the prestigious EMBO Installation Grant, now has her publications investigated by EMBO for suspected image manipulations. Her current and former research institutions are apparently actively avoiding any attempts to scrutinise her papers, some due to very heavy financial conflicts of interest. Yet my information suggests that Melo’s former…

Maybe Lander failed as a biotech entrepreneur, or maybe he misses bullying people, otherwise why is he crawling back to Broad while demoted?

And as for Sabatini, well, there is this from his billionaire patron:

ERC Experts

On 12 December 2022, the President of the European Research Council (ERC) Maria Leptin thanked a panel member in a letter:

“Dear Professor Chamkha.

On behalf of the European Research Council, we would like to thank you for having served as panel member of the ERC Starting Grant Call 2022. […] We appreciate your dedication, your hard work and resilience in this particular context.

Your contribution to the evaluation and review process is invaluable to the ERC’s continuing effort to support frontier research in Europe on the sole basis of scientific quality. We also want to thank you for the written feedback (panel recommendations) after the evaluation process. […]

Again, we want to thank you for all your efforts, and we look forward to working with you again in the future.”

So far, so boring. The exciting bit is what kind of scholar this Ali Chamkha is. He is an engineering professor in Kuwait and he used to be a “highly cited researcher” on Clarivate. Until he was removed for citation rigging.

Alexander Magazinov previously wrote about him on For Better Science.

Magazinov now wrote to the ERC:

“Please allow me to explain a circumstance that, in my opinion, disqualifies him from such a service.

In 2020, I reported to Wiley a “special issue” in one of their journals, Mathematical Methods in the Applied Sciences. See the archived call for papers for this “special issue” here:*/

The “special issue” in question was co-“guest-edited” by Chamkha.

A number of concerns were raised, including doubts over the scientific quality of accepted papers, and, more importantly, recurring authors and questionable citation practices.

As a result of these concerns, the “special issue” has been put on hold, and seemingly remains so for over 2 years. As of now, the papers purportedly from that “special issue” remain “online first” without being assigned to a journal volume (although Wiley does not communicate on their findings, if any).

Please, refer to the following spreadsheet.

Wiley communicated that 94 papers have been accepted to the “special issue” in question, yet only a partial list is undoubtedly confirmed (“Reason for inclusion” = “C8” or “JM list”). The rest is inferred from other features of the papers, but to me, as I am familiar with the overall content of the journal, these features are quite convincing.

To the main point: the “special issue” in question contributed the following payloads of citations to a selection of researchers…”

Chamkha got from that special issue 348 citations to himself. And many other citations went to known papermillers and citation scammers.

The ERC anti-fraud team informed Magazinov:

We have transferred your email to our colleagues of the Integrity Standing Committee, which is dealing with information and allegations concerning scientific misconduct and other breaches of research integrity.

Good. But I have questions. Specifically, why is Jesper Svejstrup still a member of the ERC Standing Committee? Not just that, he is ERC’s Vice-President for Life Sciences.

Now, the University of Copenhagen professor Svejstrup (who recently returned to Denmark from UK) is the former boss of Maria Fousteri, and together they published a paper which Fousteri’s former employer Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) found to be fraudulent and requested its retraction. In 2015. Next to 3 more Fousteri papers, two of which were retracted only last year.

The corresponding author Svejstrup however successfully prevented the retraction of his paper till this day. Also, Fousteri was allowed to use up her freshly awarded €1.5 million ERC grant till the last penny. ERC did not mind at all, and for three years knowingly watched the money being burned on fake science. As reminder, Svejstrup was member of the ERC research integrity commission already back then.

Fousteri affair: Dutch integrity thwarted by academic indecency

Two and a half years after Maria Fousteri was found guilty of scientific misconduct by her former employer, the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), exactly nothing at all happened. ERC and Molecular Cell ignored LUMC letters from June 2016, while Fouster’s British co-authors interfered to save own papers. Of 4 scheduled retractions, none took place.

This is the paper, number 3 in the investigative report, for which LUMC decided:

“In two other publications the manipulations were less numerous (3,4), but still of a nature that the Committee believes retraction is in order. However, since these publications did not originate from the LUMC, which only provided part of the experiments, the Committee advises further action to be taken by the institutes in the United Kingdom, where the main responsibility for these publication lies.”

Roy Anindya , Pierre-Olivier Mari , Ulrik Kristensen , Hanneke Kool , Giuseppina Giglia-Mari , Leon H. Mullenders , Maria Fousteri , Wim Vermeulen , Jean-Marc Egly , Jesper Q. Svejstrup A ubiquitin-binding domain in Cockayne syndrome B required for transcription-coupled nucleotide excision repair Molecular Cell (2010) doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2010.04.017 

Fig. 5 CsB controls (In Fig. 5A and Fig. 5C identical) are clearly from experiment ChIP 10-08-2009. All other signals in Fig. 5A, 5B and 5C are clearly not derived from this experiment. RNAPolII signal in Fig. 5A is derived from ChIP [….] 3 (present in our files). However it has been flipped left/right and the empty marker lane is used as negative control for wt cells. The H2A signal from Fig. 5A and 5C is the RPA signal from blot […. ] 3 (present in our files).

That Molecular Cell paper must be even faker than described. It’s not just because of Fousteri: Svejstrup’s French collaborator on it is Jean-Marc Egly from University of Strasbourg, whose lab published lots of fraud.

The Strasbourg Swamp

You know Voinnet, but now meet other great life scientists of Strasbourg: Drouard, Loeffler, Boutillier, Mr and Mrs Egly, and many others.

Svejstrup (and Alan Lehmann, the UK researcher behind paper Nr 4) were “urged to further investigate and to take appropriate action concerning the publications” by Fousteri. They chose to do nothing, encouraged by their universities and the editorial crooks behind Molecular Cell and Cell Press.

But who are we to meddle? Svejstrup is Europe’s top research integrity expert, right? And now he is in charge of all biomedical grants at ERC.

Hahaha. ERC learned nothing from their embarrassing pratfall three years ago with their genius choice of President, Mauro Ferrari. I did warn them, they didn’t listen.

Bullshitter Mauro Ferrari out as ERC President

Mauro Ferrari was made to resign as ERC president. In his 3 months in office, he published a ridiculously fraudulent paper with Houston colleagues. Now Ferrari announces from his Texas lockdown “trenches” to cure COVID-19.

Fully exonerated of any wrongdoing

On the occasion of our recent reporting of some fraud at University College Dublin (UCD), Clare Francis recalled in the comment section an older case, at a different Irish university.

Retraction Watch published in 2015 an investigative report by the Maynooth University :

“During the detailed investigation, the student admitted to the falsification and misrepresentation of some research data included in her PhD thesis and in the journal publications.

Maynooth University takes an extremely serious view of issues of this nature and has decided to revoke the PhD degree awarded to Aisha Qasim Butt. This is necessary as the PhD thesis of Aisha Qasim Butt is no longer sufficient to support the award of PhD. […]

It found that the senior staff member who initially reported the matter, Dr Sinéad Miggin, and the two other researchers, Dr Suaad Ahmed and Dr Ashwini Maratha, were in no way complicit with the actions of Ms. Butt and thus have been fully exonerated of any wrongdoing. The University would like to thank them for their co-operation in the investigation and their professional forbearance during this very difficult time.”

Aisha Qasim Butt , Suaad Ahmed , Ashwini Maratha , Sinéad M. Miggin 14-3-3ε and 14-3-3σ inhibit Toll-like receptor (TLR)-mediated proinflammatory cytokine induction Journal of Biological Chemistry (2012) doi: 10.1074/jbc.m112.367490 Retracted in 2014.

Two papers by the evil Butt were retracted, the little fraudster lost her PhD degree, and the case closed. All thanks to the heroic Dr Sinead Miggin, who told Retraction Watch:

“…my former PhD student, Aisha Qasim Butt, admitted to the falsification and misrepresentation of some research data included in her PhD thesis and in the journal publications. The investigation found that Dr Suaad Ahmed, Dr Ashwini Maratha and I were in no way complicit with the actions of Ms. Butt and thus we have been fully exonerated of any wrongdoing. This has been a tremendously difficult time for me and I would like to thank all those who have supported me during this period. Given that I withdrew the papers appropriately and have fully cooperated and been exonerated after a year-long investigation I now consider the matter concluded.”

You know where this is going, right?

Miggin is namely the mentee of the infamous UCD’s cheater Therese Kinsella. And the fake science they published together happened long was before Miggin had her own lab for Butt to joined for PhD to.

Two papers by Miggin and Kinsella were retracted, one fixed with a correction:


Orlaith A. Lawler , Sinead M. Miggin , B. Therese Kinsella Protein kinase A-mediated phosphorylation of serine 357 of the mouse prostacyclin receptor regulates its coupling to G(s)-, to G(i)-, and to G(q)-coupled effector signaling Journal of Biological Chemistry (2001) doi: 10.1074/jbc.m104434200

Corrected in 2018: “the authors realized that there may have been unspecified reordering of lanes in Fig. 11B and possible duplication of lanes 2 between Fig. 11, B and C. As the original data were no longer available, replicate data are provided. This correction does not affect the results or conclusions of this work.”

Miggin has 8 papers on PubPeer. Not all coauthored by Butt or Kinsella. How about this one, with Miggin as first author and the Trinity College Dublin professor Luke O’Neill (who has over 20 papers on PubPeer!), allegedly fixed with a Correction in 2013?

Sinead M. Miggin , Eva Pålsson-McDermott , Aisling Dunne , Caroline Jefferies , Emmanuel Pinteaux , Kathy Banahan , Caroline Murphy , Paul Moynagh , Masahiro Yamamoto , Shizuo Akira , Nancy Rothwell , Douglas Golenbock , Katherine A. Fitzgerald , Luke A. J. O’Neill NF-kappaB activation by the Toll-IL-1 receptor domain protein MyD88 adapter-like is regulated by caspase-1 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2007) doi: 10.1073/pnas.0608100104

“The authors note that Fig. 3 appeared incorrectly. Panel B (Top) depicting the time course of NF-κB activation in wild type and caspase-1 deficient peritoneal macrophages is not the same version as the authors submitted originally to PNAS. A correct version including vertical rules to indicate splicing is shown below. Regarding panel C, during the preparation of the manuscript, we inadvertently repeated a set of p38 blots corresponding to p-p38 Western blots. The correct p38 Western blots are shown below. The findings of the paper have not been affected by the error and the authors apologize to the editors and readers.”

Obviously everyone in Ireland knows Miggin is a very bad scientist. That’s probably why she remains in the junior rank of Assistant Professor since 2006. If only Miggin was male, she would be a full professor and carrier of honours, awards and academy memberships like O’Neill and nobody could touch her.

But I do wonder: what really happened with Butt? What if her real crime was to protest about the fake data her advisor forced her to introduce into her paper and thesis? In any case, maybe Maynooth University should not allow Miggin to train students.

Speaking of Kinsella: this zombie professor of UCD seems to work full-time for her own successful biotech startup ATXA Therapeutics. Successful in the sense that it gets millions of Euros of public funding, despite the CEO’s fraud record and 6 retractions. Just in October 2022, ATXA was given €10,5 million by the European Innovation Council. This follows €2.5 million ATXA received from Horizon 2020 in 2018. Because Kinsella says she invented a cure for pulmonary hypertension.

Scholarly Publishing

Sauer stops

Remember Prof Dr Dirk Uwe Sauer of RWTH Aachen, the Editor-in-Chief of Elsevier’s Journal of Energy Storage? Which Iranian fraudsters discovered to be a welcoming home for their purchased papermill manuscripts and citation scams?

As Sauer informed me, he would have loved to crack down on the fraud, but was unfortunately too busy. Maybe this is why he tasked his department’s junior group leader Weihan Li with running yet another special issue, assisted by France-based peddler of “tortured phrases” (aka plagiarism), Mostafa Safdari Shadloo (read here).

Other papermill garbage kept entering via the “normal” editorial procedure, outside of special issues. Like this Chinese papermill turd, co-authored by a russian pig sty expert (sic!):

Daifen Chen , Yanlong Zhu , Shuo Han , Lysyakov Anatoly , Makeey Andrey , Liu Lu Investigate the effect of a parallel-cylindrical flow field on the solid oxide fuel cell stack performance by 3D multiphysics simulating Journal of Energy Storage (2023) doi: 10.1016/j.est.2022.106587

More recently, Sauer dropped all pretences and invited one of the most infamous papermillers and citation scammers, Davood Toghraie. This was published on 16 January 2023:

Jian Wu , Mohammad Derikvand , Duaa Abdul Rida Musa , Zainab Ali Bu Sinnah , Farag M.A. Altalbawy , Sabah Auda AbdulAmeer , Davood Toghraie , Ammar I. Alsabery , Ibrahem Waleed Thermal performance improvement of a heat-sink using metal foams for better energy storage systems Journal of Energy Storage (2023) doi: 10.1016/j.est.2023.106663

oxocarpus lagenifer
There is a dramatic difference between key parameters of the materials used in the core model and in the validation model.”

Of course Sauer also allowed citation stacking to celebrate a certain YM Chu and a certain Y. Tang, published on 20 January 2023:

Shao-Wen Yao , Mohammed N. Ajour , Nidal H. Abu-Hamdeh, Abd Elmotaleb A.M.A. Elamin Freezing process of nanomaterial inside thermal storage tank with amelioration in geometry utilizing Galerkin modeling Journal of Energy Storage (2023) doi: 10.1016/j.est.2023.106653 

While on his celebrity trip, Sauer let the legendary Rafael Luque to place his papermilled turd into the journal, joined by Awais Ahmad and other crooks. Published on 11 January 2023:

Iqra Ashraf , Qasim Abbas , Yaqin Huang , Najam Ul Hassan , Munirah D. Albaqami , Ammar Mohamed Tighezza , Sayed M. Eldin , Muhammad Sufyan Javed , Awais Ahmad , Rafael Luque V-Mn-O aerogel composite-based high-energy Zn-ion hybrid supercapacitor Journal of Energy Storage (2023) doi: 10.1016/j.est.2022.106601

Neodiprion demoides:

Surprisingly, this paper (and its supplementary material, too) lacks the description of how the reported compound was synthesized, unless Fig. 1a is supposed to be such a description.

The following key information is totally missing:

  • sources of initial compounds
  • amounts of initial compounds
  • reaction conditions (except for “stirrer @ 90 degrees Celsius” […]
  • yield

I am completely at loss how this could escape the attention of everyone involved in the editorial process, including the authors, the editors, the reviewers and the copy-editors.

One wonders why Sauer was allowing this to happen. Pigheadedness? Revenge, maybe? The metaphorical equivalent of crapping on your successor’s desk before leaving the job?

Because some days ago, Sauer was replaced as Editor-in-Chief, suddenly and without any announcements by the journal. Sauer chose not to comment on his departure into the status of “founding editor”, but I asked the RWTH Ombudsman to investigate his editorial activities vis-a-vis papermills. Sauer is indeed a busy man: people have to pay to listen to him (even online!) as if he was a rock star. Almost €130 per ticket, and this in Thailand. Our German professor may be a bad editor, but he certainly knows all about money.

The new Editor in Chief of Journal of Energy Storage is Luisa F. Cabeza, professor at the University of Lleida in Spain. Last year, her past and current mentees to organise an MDPI special issue titled “A Themed Issue Dedicated to Professor Luisa F. Cabeza”. It had only 3 papers, all their own. At least no papermill trash.

I wonder: does Sauer use papermill “science” while educating the public and advising the German government on battery technology and green energy? Maybe he does? What then?

Conflict of Interests

EMBO Reports is one of the journals owned by the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), a prestigious learned society with its administrative and editorial office in Heidelberg, Germany.

A paper in EMBO Reports, from the Dulbecco Telethon Institute in Naples, Italy, has been flagged on PubPeer in 2020, and Elisabeth Bik added another finding a few days ago.

Achim Breiling, Laura P O’Neill , Donatella D’Eliseo , Bryan M Turner, Valerio Orlando Epigenome changes in active and inactive Polycomb‐group‐controlled regions EMBO reports (2004) doi: 10.1038/sj.embor.7400260

Bik had a look at the journal’s editorial board and noted:

Of additional note, the first author is Senior Scientific Editor of Embo Reports, in which this paper has been published. I hope this will not affect the investigation of these concerns.”

In fact, Achim Breiling and his postdoctoral mentor Valerio Orlando (EMBO member since 2006 and now professor at King Abdullah University in Saudi Arabia), have another paper on PubPeer. Flagged by Bik already in 2020:

Filippo M. Cernilogar, A. Maxwell Burroughs, Chiara Lanzuolo, Achim Breiling, Axel Imhof , Valerio Orlando RNA-interference components are dispensable for transcriptional silencing of the drosophila bithorax-complex PLoS ONE (2013) doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065740 

Orlando is not an angel. He collaborated with the most toxic cheaters. Like here, with Kristian Helin and his mentee Diego Pasini, back when Helin was running a lab at the European Institute of Oncology (IEO) in Milan, 1995-2007. Orlando worked between 1998 and 2002 at San Raffaele Institute in the same Italian city.

Here an example of this collaboration:

Lovorka Stojic , Zuzana Jasencakova , Carolina Prezioso , Alexandra Stützer , Beatrice Bodega , Diego Pasini , Rebecca Klingberg , Chiara Mozzetta , Raphael Margueron , Pier Lorenzo Puri , Dirk Schwarzer , Kristian Helin , Wolfgang Fischle , Valerio Orlando Chromatin regulated interchange between polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2)-Ezh2 and PRC2-Ezh1 complexes controls myogenin activation in skeletal muscle cells Epigenetics & Chromatin (2011) doi: 10.1186/1756-8935-4-16

That gel is completely fake. Helin is now directing the ICR London fraud factory, they couldn’t have found a more suitable president. The first author Lovorka Stojic is also in London, running her own lab at the fraud-infested Barts Cancer Institute of the Queen Mary University.

The English science supremacy

England leads the world in science, any fule kno. Meet some more of the star jesters: Nick Lemoine, Peter St George-Hyslop and Xin Lu. They are curing cancer and Alzheimer with Photoshop.

And look with whom Orlando and his mentee Stojic teamed up in the Neapolitan neighbourhood: Italy’s most infamous research fraudster Alfredo Fusco!

Eleonora Borbone , Giancarlo Troncone , Angelo Ferraro , Zuzana Jasencakova , Lovorka Stojic , Francesco Esposito , Nadine Hornig , Alfredo Fusco , Valerio Orlando Enhancer of zeste homolog 2 overexpression has a role in the development of anaplastic thyroid carcinomas The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (2011) doi: 10.1210/jc.2010-1784

Now, everyone can end up in a rotten research group. But the German postdoc Breiling arrived to Orlando’s San Raffaele lab in 1998, and three years later followed his boss to Naples where he stayed until 2007, until Orlando moved to Rome. It doesn’t look like they fought over research practices. Breiling then worked for 9 years at DKFZ in Heidelberg and then became senior editor at EMBO Reports. Where he was so busy that he found no time to fix his own paper there, so I reinforced the EMBO Head of Publications Bernd Pulverer, who promised to investigate. I predict that the EMBO Press-typical “partial retraction” will now happen.

No further action

Papermill hunter Nick Wise reported this on PubPeer:

Afshin Ardebili , Ahmad Latifian , Chya Fatah Aziz , Rima H. BinSaeed , S. M. Alizadeh , Evgeniy V. Kostyrin A comprehensive and systematic literature review on the employee attendance management systems based on cloud computing Journal of Management & Organization (2022) doi: 10.1017/jmo.2022.63 

On the 2nd of March 2022 an advert was placed on Facebook selling authorship of a paper with a title similar to this one.”

Wise also noted that several sentences in the paper’s abstract were “identical or very similar to the advert above“. One author, S.M Alizadeh, has a PubPeer record of papermilling with known fraudsters Davood Toghraie and Afshin Davarpanah. Wise also wondered how the “authors”, each one of them located in a different country (Malaysia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and russia) came to collaborate. One of the authors papermill customers, Ahmad Latifian, explained:

Through Researchgate and Linkedin, scientific &research communication and consensus and collaboration was established.

Well, Wise didn’t really wonder, you can’t have more proof for a cheap papermill origin than this.

He informed the publisher in September 2022. On 30 January 2023, he received this expert assessment from Jamie Davidson, Associate Publisher for Business & Management and Law Journals at Cambridge University Press:

“Thank you for bringing the Facebook advertisement to our attention. While we acknowledge the advert looks suspicious, the journal’s investigation into this publication has not found sufficient evidence to confirm that the article is part of a paper mill. No further action will be taken at this time; however, the journal will be monitoring the situation and will take editorial action should new information become available, or if further suspicious activity is found.””

Cambridge University Press rightly decided that papermill money doesn’t stink.

This careless error

From Cambridge University Press to Oxford University Press. Look what just got corrected.

Bidyut Purkait , Ruby Singh , Kirti Wasnik , Sushmita Das , Ashish Kumar , Mark Paine , Manas Dikhit , Dharmendra Singh , Abul H. Sardar , Ayan K. Ghosh , Pradeep Das Up-regulation of silent information regulator 2 (Sir2) is associated with amphotericin B resistance in clinical isolates of Leishmania donovani Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (2015) doi: 10.1093/jac/dku534 

All that was flagged by Elisabeth Bik a year ago, In January 2022. And here comes the Correction from 23 January 2023:

“The authors and JAC are grateful to Dr Elisabeth Bik who raised the possibility of image manipulation in figure 6c in the article Up-regulation of silent information regulator 2 (Sir2) is associated with amphotericin B resistance in clinical isolates of Leishmania donovani (Purkait et al., 2015). The authors apologise to the readers of the Journal for making this careless error in compiling the composite figure. The authors have resupplied a new part C to figure 6 entitled FITC-A LdSir2–/+ S + AmB to replace the original part and this is published below to correct the scientific record.”

That’s it. The authors openly admit they faked the flow cytometry in Figure 6, pretend the evidence for massive forgery in other figures wasn’t there, and the journal editors, the publishers Oxford Academic and the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy accept it.

The scientific record stands corrected.

News in Tweets

  • Peter Wilmshurst, Susan Bewley and Patricia Murray with a letter to editor regarding Robbins et al 2021: “We raise concerns about the article by Robbins et al describing hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) for the treatment of long COVID.1 […] We believe it is unacceptable that this experimental non-comparative efficacy trial had ethics approval only for the data analysis. It did not have ethics approval for the exposure of patients to the unproven use of HBOT in a clinical trial. […] The trial was not blinded for either patients or the treating doctor, who performed the assessment in the private facility. Whether the research was funded by the subjects paying for ‘private treatment’ is not stated. […] We believe that Clinical Medicine should publish an expression of concern about this paper whilst the journal investigates whether there was ethical approval for the actual research and not just the analysis. If there was not, the article should be retracted.
  • Paul Knoepfler blogs “on the Bryan Johnson anti-aging extravaganza” (endorsed by George Church!) and Johnson’s private doc Oliver Zolman: “The Bloomberg piece, entitled “How to Be 18 Years Old Again for Only $2 Million a Year” seems to lurch from almost fanboy-like admiration to cautionary statements about some of the things Johnson is doing. The title also wrongly implies Johnson has been able to become like an 18-year-old again.
  • Colossal wanker from MIT, George Church, who previously successfully announced to use gene technology to de-extinct mammoths, dinosaurs, Neanderthals, thylacines, and now he and his company Colossal announced to de-extict a Dodo. Guardian loves it: “Ben Lamm, the co-founder and chief executive of Colossal, said the company – whose attempts on mammoths and thylacine have not yet produced new animals – was raising a further $150m (£122m) from investors to pursue its research on the dodo.
  • An older investigation by Charles Seife from 2015: “Fifty-seven published clinical trials were identified for which an FDA inspection of a trial site had found significant evidence of 1 or more of the following problems: falsification or submission of false information, 22 trials (39%); problems with adverse events reporting, 14 trials (25%); protocol violations, 42 trials (74%); inadequate or inaccurate recordkeeping, 35 trials (61%); failure to protect the safety of patients and/or issues with oversight or informed consent, 30 trials (53%); and violations not otherwise categorized, 20 trials (35%). Only 3 of the 78 publications (4%) that resulted from trials in which the FDA found significant violations mentioned the objectionable conditions or practices found during the inspection. No corrections, retractions, expressions of concern, or other comments acknowledging the key issues identified by the inspection were subsequently published.
  • A thread by Elisabeth Bik about a very fake paper in PNAS, Qiang et al 2014 (see on PubPeer): “This paper was cited 184 times, and funded by @NIH, @AmericanCancer, @UChicago Cancer Research Center, and UChicago Friends of Dermatology Endowment Fund. All problems found by eye.
  • Gongxian Wang, author of Huang et al 2020: “we believe that the authors of paper entitled “LncRNA IGFBP4-1 promotes tumor development by activating Janus kinase-signal transducer and activator of transcription pathway in bladder urothelial carcinoma” plagiarized our manuscript submitted to Frontiers in Oncology. Therefore, we ask the authors to apologize and withdraw the manuscript, and appeal to Frontiers in Oncology to start a survey on this plagiarism.”


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22 comments on “Schneider Shorts 3.02.2023 – Where have all retractions gone?

  1. My god do you do a lot of words! Anyway, I didn’t previously know about Bill Ackman’s ties to Sabatini. Maybe I can work on that angle via different channels than usual.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. magazinovalex

    TGGS_KMUTNB? This is bonkers!

    If anything, KMUTNB is “King Mongkut’s University of Technology North Bangkok.”

    You know whom specifically herr prof dr Sauer might have been visiting there? I have a wild hypothesis: no one other but a certain Somchai Wongwises, a recipient of well over 100 citations from Afrand’s shitshow in ex-Sauer’s journal. And also an editor of J Therm Anal Calorim, on which I have an almost 2-year old presentation.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. magazinovalex

    “In fact, Achim Breiling and his postdoctoral mentor Valerio Orlando (EMBO member since 2006 and now professor at King Abdullah University in Saudi Arabia), have another paper on PubPeer. Flagged by Bik already in 2020:”

    Filippo M. Cernilogar!

    The guy listed as an editor on “The Role of Janus Kinase/STAT3 Pathway in Hematologic Malignancies With an Emphasis on Epigenetics” – because it’s Frontiers! One of the papers offered by Scientific Publisher and featuring Mostafa Jarahian, whose affiliation was refuted by DKFZ!


  4. Let’s not forget the ERC Starting Grant (1.5M) recepient Julia Santiago (Univ. Lausanne), who faked the infamous Santiago et al 2009 paper and then put the blame on a deceased collague. Despite a promise to retract that paper by her mentor Pedro L. Rodriguez, nothing yet happened.
    Dr Santiago has this PubPeer record, with several problematic papers:
    After Leonid’s notification, ERC promised to investigate, but no action was undertaken as of today.


  5. Lander and Sabatini have lot in common. For example, both are corresponding authors in this fraudulent Cell paper:


  6. Pingback: “Uno dei peggiori articoli” – ocasapiens

  7. RE: Conflict of interests of Journal Editor
    Self-publishing is common among academic journal editors (nature 2023)
    There is irony in that Springer-Nature Journals have these same problems. Being an Editor of a Springer-Nature stable of Journals, you can publish sub-standard work in your own edited Journal/Books, get favorable reviews and waiver of APC charges for your papers from other editors of Journals. Otherwise, why do the editorial work. These conflict of interest papers are indexed on Pubmed because they are from top publishing groups. Many Editors of pubmed indexed journals and books are publishing excessively in self-edited books and journals. Just one example
    Shilendra Saxena (King George Medical College, India) publishes papers in Springer-Nature which acquired Indian Journal of Virology and rebranded as VirusDisease which he edits
    Books where he is Editor/Editorial Book Editor

    Click to access 2020_Book_CoronavirusDisease2019COVID-19.pdf

    Editors do not respond on Pubpeer. They don’t have to.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Copy/paste is easier to do, I guess – a good friend of Claudio Hetz


  9. yes right.
    And Chevet (Inserm) never corrects anything, so question is why EMBO mol med, Cancer Res and Mol cell biol, etc… did not ask him to correct? Copy/paste of bands in western blots seems to be accepted for some persons!


  10. ERC panel members are some time like this. Last month in the ERC Advanced grant interview panel of PE11, noted a guy who has been discussed here sometimes . His length & breadth of publications list is shady. The irony is that such people will decide the best scientist.


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