Schneider Shorts

Schneider Shorts 10.02.2023 – Pound of Flesh

Schneider Shorts 10.02.2023 - an anonymous attack team harasses a Californian poet, a brothel with pipettes just for mTORman, Sicilian scholars fighting retractions, other Sicilian scholars going Egypt, with Photoshop classics, Antarctic predators, and yet another amazing correction by Wiley.

Schneider Shorts of 10 February 2023 – an anonymous attack team harasses a Californian poet, a brothel with pipettes just for mTORman, Sicilian scholars fighting retractions, other Sicilian scholars going Egypt, with Photoshop classics, Antarctic predators, and yet another amazing correction by Wiley.

Table of Discontent

Science Elites

Scholarly publishing

News in Tweets

Science Elites

Pound of flesh

If you have nothing else in your life, no invited to talks to give at conferences, no Nature papers to work on, you probably waste your weekends reading Schneider Shorts (like now). Then you might remember Professor Valerie M. Weaver, director of the Center for Bioengineering and Tissue Regeneration of the Bay Area Center for Physical Sciences and Oncology at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). She is the one being harassed and persecuted with fake allegations of image duplication by Elisabeth Bik.

Well, as I learned four of this lab’s papers are under investigation by UCSF, which also took hold of all the draw data including old floppy disks. Probably that’s why Professor Weaver now totally lost her composure on PubPeer.

Like in this case:

L Damiano , K M Stewart , N Cohet , J K Mouw , J N Lakins , J Debnath , D Reisman , J A Nickerson , A N Imbalzano, V M Weaver Oncogenic targeting of BRM drives malignancy through C/EBPβ-dependent induction of α5 integrin Oncogene (2014) doi: 10.1038/onc.2013.220

Elisabeth M Bik: “Concern about Figures 2, 5, 6, and 7. Boxes of the same color highlight panels that look quite similar. The labels suggests that some of those represent different experiments.”

In October 2022, Weaver kept insisting PubPeer:

Independent experiments NOT duplicated images


i would appreciate it if you did not try to tarnish my reputation with these types of accusations – these are legitmate stainings […] they are double stained organoids – it would help if you actually READ the paper – you are slandering my name when clearly there is nothing amiss here at all – it is very upsetting

Bik, Cheshire and others kept telling Weaver that it wasn’t about the nature of stainings, but about images reused to stand in for totally different experiments. Eventually, Weaver admitted the duplications:

No intent to deceive was made and if there was an inadvertent error this will immediately be corrected and we will work with oncogene editors The first author and second author refuse to respond to any email or linked in efforts to contact them Ucsf ethics group is currently looking through all data I stand by my trainees and consider them innocent of any misconduct

And then Weaver exploded (highlight mine, I archived her PubPeer rant):

I’m the senior author My response was to state there was no fraud That’s an entirely different comment I never stated there was no potential for an error although I do believe nothing is amiss Your constant attacks and comments treat the work as somehow nefarious and purposely deceptive It is inappropriate and unfair the way my groups work has been attacked by you and others If you are not dr Bik then why is your name not stated? What have you got to hide? What gives you the right to attack others? Your comments suggest I am to simply roll over and accept that your accusations are sound and humbly grovel

I stand behind my trainees – each set of studies conducted in my lab are team efforts – this is done purposely to ensure there are multiple checks and balances Studies are done using multiple overlapping approaches so that loss of function gain of function – description – etc ensures we are reasonably accurate and that our final conclusions are sound If there was any intent to deceive there would need to be a group conspiracy – which is ridiculous

Hence my statement that my lab does not condone support or ever publish fraudulent data

Could there be an inadvertent error Of course I don’t dispute this But I do dispute your accusations of intent This is a very different issue

Many of dr Biks highlighted comments regarding suspicious data in her teams recent posts are completely unfounded and upon examination many of claims of image duplication accusations are not at all true If dr Bik and her team truly wanted to ensure data accuracy then I suggest she and her team would have worked honestly and carefully with my team as opposed to behaving in the current manner

What I would like to do in future is to obtain dr Biks image analysis software so that my team can screen all final figures to ensure no inadvertent errors are introduced in the future We do carefully check every figure for potential errors Before first submission and once again after revision But true I don’t sit over my trainee to check their final image composition just prior to sending the article to press So you can charge me with not watching every single act my trainees execute – is that sloppiness – no- is it understandable – absolutely In fact several colleagues attest to themselves finding inadvertent errors in figures – just like a review of text can repeatedly miss a typo or spelling error etc – which is why spell check is important

Dr Biks claim that potential errors are an intent to deceive is what I take offense with – I never have never would and never will condone such behavior and yes such an accusation does upset me immensely

So I find Your comment to be offensive and inappropriate

Out of almost 200 articles thus far a few minor errors have been identified

In fact Dr Bik and her attack team – which I gather you are part of – highlighted a duplicate image in an old article that was already identified by my team years ago and an erratum was published – the fact she and her team did not believe me is insane – fortunately the journal sent the reference link where the erratum was published

Shame on you and your colleagues for wasting time and energy attacking innocent mistakes

Moreover other accusations by Bik and her team are so ridiculous they don’t even merit a response

However I doubt you agree with me My impression is that you are not interested in finding errors and correcting these – rather you smell blood and want to attack and destroy people – for the mere pleasure of doing so And of course you remain anonymous

These are very different matters Ie intent to deceive versus honest errors

Regardless you’ve gotten your pound of flesh already So enjoy yourself I’m sure you are smugly congratulating yourself

There’s no there there and I have every reason to believe my groups reputation will be cleared by ucsf review

Bik found a number of papers from Weaver’s lab with problematic data (currently around a dozen on PubPeer). Like this one, flagged in November 2022, its co-author is none other but the MD Andersons mega-cheater Raghu Kalluri.

Hanane Laklai , Yekaterina A Miroshnikova , Michael W Pickup , Eric A Collisson , Grace E Kim , Alex S Barrett , Ryan C Hill , Johnathon N Lakins , David D Schlaepfer , Janna K Mouw , Valerie S LeBleu , Nilotpal Roy , Sergey V Novitskiy , Julia S Johansen , Valeria Poli , Raghu Kalluri , Christine A Iacobuzio-Donahue, Laura D Wood, Matthias Hebrok, Kirk Hansen, Harold L Moses, Valerie M Weaver Genotype tunes pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma tissue tension to induce matricellular fibrosis and tumor progression Nature Medicine (2016) doi: 10.1038/nm.4082 

Weaver commented some days ago:

The majority of the images flagged by Dr Bik and her team are inaccurate accusations of potential errors That being said I am obviously keen on carefully reviewing all images to ensure there are no errors present I stand by my trainees and maintain no nefarious activity was present when preparing this article.

No mention of the pound of flesh this time, meh. In another case Weaver sounded almost reasonable (but not quite):

Yekaterina A. Miroshnikova , Janna K. Mouw , J. Matthew Barnes , Michael W. Pickup , Johnathan N. Lakins , Youngmi Kim , Khadjia Lobo , Anders I. Persson , Gerald F. Reis , Tracy R. McKnight , Eric C. Holland, Joanna J. Phillips , Valerie M. Weaver Tissue mechanics promote IDH1-dependent HIF1α–tenascin C feedback to regulate glioblastoma aggression Nature Cell Biology (2016) doi: 10.1038/ncb3429

Bik: “I might be misinterpreting the labels, but could the authors check if these are indeed the same experiments?

Days ago, Weaver finally reacted, for a change thanking Bik but blaming the journal for fudging her data:

We thank Dr Bik and her team for identifying the image error […] We have contacted the journal editors with the correct image that they can verify was present throughout the review process The erratum will be published […] It is alarming when an anonymous individual whose credentials are not stated also feels they can make these accusations Perhaps this individual should contact the journal and formally request to review the article together with 2-3 qualified scientists and the final assessment will be left with the editors

The “anonymous individual”, i.e. Elisabeth Bik, was confused. And then there was this:

Julie C. Friedland , Johnathon N. Lakins , Marcelo G. Kazanietz, Jonathan Chernoff, David Boettiger , Valerie M. Weaver α6β4 integrin activates Rac-dependent p21-activated kinase 1 to drive NF-κB-dependent resistance to apoptosis in 3D mammary acini Journal of Cell Science (2007) doi: 10.1242/jcs.03484 

Also here, Weaver insisted in October 2022:

These are from completely independent experiments My group would never reuse images or blots

And just recently she exploded with another rant at Bik (archived copy here):

“I have been pestered by emails from a journalist claiming to work with you accusing me and my group of committing fraud – other comments by anonymous individuals have similarly started piling on I get your intent to troll papers to “search for” evidence of unethical activity However much of your efforts fail to identify such activities and actually seriously hurt those you go after”

Followed by the usual long tirade about “minor unintentional errors”, only a fraction of her 200 papers affected, Weaver’s reputation being tarnished by Bik who is “doing quite a lot of harm” and demands that Bik turns over her software.

Actually, I wrote only one email to Weaver at that time. Now I wrote to her again to ask if she was OK, and if she has any actual examples for where Bik’s findings were proven to be “not at all true”.

She replied with a long… poem. Excerpt:

“Besides ucsf is now looking into things
As I was reported to the ethics committee […]
But I run a tight ship and our work is meticulous and carefully done
So any error is just that

Valerie Weaver, poet

Brothel with pipettes

You probably heard that the sexual predator and science cheater David Sabatini received a $25 million dollar grant to set up a new lab, from his billionaire friend Bill Ackman (e.g., Science reported about it). That financial intervention was apparently necessary after Sabatini was sacked by MIT and failed to get an already promised job at New York University Langone Health (even though they love science-faking sexual harassers there).

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…

Sabatini then resorted to whining from his sofa to anyone sympathetic about how unfairly he was treated, and how nobody wants to give him a job except russia, China and the Emirates. Obviously the first offer is not really a convenient option these days, and as for China: it is widely known Sabatini prefers white European women. Emirates: how is a sex- and whiskey-fiend supposed to survive there?

And now Ackman elegantly solved Sabatini’s problem. The billionaire will invest $2.5 million annually for 5 years in order to build the fallen mTORman his own theme park lab. With blackjack and hookers.

Science wrote on 3 February 2023:

“Sabatini’s newest chance emerged 4 days ago, as Ackman prepared to wine and dine his foundation’s scientific advisers at Manhattan’s high-end restaurant Le Bernardin. Ackman had reached out to Sabatini when he was first fired in 2021 and defended him in a talk last year at the annual dinner honoring scientific reviewers for the Pershing Square Foundation, which makes coveted awards to young cancer scientists in the New York City area. Earlier this week, he says, “I called him and said, ‘We think it’s important that you get back to work.’”

Looking for a partner to split the costs of relaunching the Sabatini lab, Ackman says he next called two potential donors. The first demurred because of the unsettled lawsuits, in which Sabatini sued Whitehead and Knouse for defamation and infliction of emotional distress and she countersued for sexual harassment, retaliation, assault and battery, and emotional distress. But, Ackman says, the second potential donor told him, “This is the best idea I have heard in a long time.”

Ackman declined to name the individual, but said the name will eventually become public. “They are very knowledgeable about David and have a lot of respect for his work.””

Now, Science should maybe have mentioned why Ackman, the billionaire CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, is so protective of sexual predators. Key information: Ackman is married to the MIT professor Neri Oxman.

Boston Globe wrote in 2019:

“The MIT Media Lab’s schedule was cleared on a Saturday afternoon in October 2015. There was a special guest and potential donor visiting then-director Joi Ito’s office.

One by one, some of the highest profile professors at the Media Lab trooped in and presented their research, answered questions, and discussed their work with the prospective benefactor: Jeffrey Epstein.

Neri Oxman, a well-known architect and designer, whose work has been featured at the Smithsonian Institution and in the pages of Vogue magazine, said she was among those who spoke. She discussed her research on how art, science, engineering, and design work together and brought small-scale models of her sculptures. Ito and another senior MIT professor were also present.

The day was a success: Oxman’s lab, Mediated Matter, received $125,000 tied to Epstein over the years. And because MIT did not want the disgraced financier to use the gift to help rehabilitate his reputation, Oxman was told it would be kept confidential. […]

After the meeting, Oxman told the Globe, Ito twice asked her to write notes thanking Epstein for his contributions. She, along with other professors, were invited to dine with Epstein on several occasions, though she said she never attended. And in 2017, Ito requested that her design lab, which often produced donor gifts for the university, send a token of appreciation to Epstein: a grapefruit-sized, 3-D printed marble with a base that lit up. It came with a pair of gloves to avoid getting fingerprints on the surface.

She complied, and asked lab members to mail it to Epstein’s Manhattan address.”

As Axios reported later, Ackman worked hard to suppress all connection of his wife to Epstein.

Yes sure, Ackman’s wife eagerly took money from America’s most infamous paedophile pimp, Jeffrey Epstein. But hey, she is a woman, so it is actually empowering for Women in STEM, you know.

Again, congratulations to Sabatini on the Ackman-sponsored brothel with pipettes. Now, Science also interviewed the Harvard professor Jeffrey Flier, former Dean of the Harvard Medical School.

Flier tweeted his full interview:

Q. What did you feel when you read this news? What was your reaction to this change of fortunes for David Sabatini? A. I was happy to hear this, because it might represent a path for DS to reestablish his research program.2/

Q. Why did you feel that way? A. From what I have read and know, the decision to fire him & close his research prog was conducted w insufficient attention to due process, was unfair, and meted out markedly excessive punishment for the issues that provoked the investigation.3/

Q. What message do you feel that this investment by Bill Ackman and his partner sends to the scientific community if any? A. It sends the message that some high profile and ethical people are willing to support DS reengaging his brilliant career as a scientist ….4/

A…..and mentor of other scientists, despite the risk that by doing so they themselves will be falsely attacked. Perhaps this example would give more courage to others to speak out honestly on this issue, in an ethical and balanced manner.

Well, there are some arguments why Flier should have kept his trap shut on the Sabatini affair. First, it’s not like Harvard had a policy of zero tolerance for sexual harassment, research fraud and other misconduct under his watch. Read about the whistleblower lawsuit against the Harvard professor Umut Ozcan, accused of bullying, racism, sexual harassment and massive research fraud. It took place when Flier was Dean of the Harvard Medical School, and guess whose side the university took.

Second, Flier decided to become America’s top authority on research integrity, that despite his bosom buddy, fellow Harvard professor and the PhD mentor of Flier’s wife, C Ronald Kahn, being a massive research cheater. Read here:

Flier just had to speak up in defence of the wealthy white American male in US academia.

Antarctic predators

Speaking of sexual harassment: Undark reports about the dangerous culture on Antarctic research stations. The article opens with a palaeoclimatology PhD student Megan Kerr who asked questions:

“The report Kerr mentioned was the 273-page elephant in the room — a document the NSF released in late August detailing a decades-long history of pervasive sexual harassment and assault at Antarctic research stations. Almost three-quarters of women surveyed agreed that harassment was a problem, describing it as a “fact of life” on the continent. And 95 percent of women interviewed in focus groups knew someone who had experienced assault or harassment within the Antarctic program. To outsiders, the graphic detail and matter-of-fact descriptions were shocking. But in the polar science community, the reaction was different.

When the report came out, “No one was surprised, other than the grad students.” Kerr said. She spoke with her principal investigators and supervisors, “and they were like, ‘Yeah, it’s been an issue for a long time.’ Okay, why is this the first time I’m hearing about it?””

Female researchers were never welcome at Antarctic stations, and when they eventually arrived, they became prey.

“In the NSF report, one interviewee said she’d been told on her first day at McMurdo to stay clear of a certain building unless she “wanted to be raped.” Another woman said she felt like she was seen as “prey” no matter where she was physically on the base. […] Remote fieldwork camps are even more dangerous, because scientists work together on small teams hundreds of miles away from McMurdo for weeks at a time. If something happens, the survivor has nowhere to escape to — they’re trapped out on the ice with their abuser.”

This was the most infamous case:

“Polar science had its #MeToo moment in 2017, just weeks after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, when Boston University suspended prominent Antarctic geologist David Marchant with pay. Multiple women had come forward with allegations of sexual harassment against him, including claims that Marchant had pelted female graduate students with rocks while they urinated, taunted them, and threatened their careers. His ousting had far-reaching effects beyond the women he directly harassed.”

NSF announced action against sexual harassment in Antarctic expeditions, but the problem are the male scientific elites who in the end decide and implement the policies.

“In the NSF report, while almost 90 percent of senior leadership agreed that sexual harassment and assault are important to address, less than a quarter of them agreed that sexual assault was a problem in Antarctica.”

Lawyers are involved

Remember the University of Messina data forgers around Francesco Squadrito in Sicily (Italy)?

The Italian newspaper Il Secolo XIX brought on 5 February 2023 a story about Squadrito’s Messina gang, with a particular focus on his mentee, Alessandra Bitto, now full professor herself. Unfortunately the article is not yet available online so I can’t link to it. Here some translated excerpts:

“Eight hundred and fifty thousand euros for a research project are a rarity in Italy. […] But there are exceptions. Like the study of new anti-tumor therapies
that Alessandra Bitto, professor of pharmacology at the University of Messina, coordinates with the contribution of the CNR and the University of Genoa, and which received 850 thousand euros from the ministry. The study is finishing and the Ministry of the University is setting up in these days […] a “technical-scientific commission which will evaluate the research project and the CV” of the scientist. Alessandra Bitto is co-author of 261 scientific articles on tumours, diabetes,
haemorrhages and other diseases; 261 is a lot, but four of them have been retracted. […]

From the ministry they let it be known that the minister Anna Maria Bernini, after the evaluations of the commission, will decide whether to confirm the research or cancel it
and ask for the return of the 850 thousand euros.”

There are also 2 Expressions of Concern, and many more retractions are expected The Secolo XIX article also addresses Squadrito’s and Bitto’s research into the flavanol drug flavocoxid (Limbrel) which they first published fake preclinical data on, and then tested it children in clinical trials, until the US authority FDA demanded Limbrel’s withdrawal over toxicity concerns (read The Fraud Squad article for details).

“On Pub Peer, 111 articles of her have been reported as critical. […] Can Alessandra Bitto coordinate an 850,000 euro project? “There is something to worry about, no doubt,” the professor declares on the phone. «But the matter is delicate, the lawyers are involved. Many drugs have side effects and at the time of our test on children, the FDA was silent. Publishers who withdrew articles may have done so because they were overwhelmed by criticism.”

The FDA was of course not at all silent, but one cannot expect truth or factuality from Bitto.

“Lawyers are involved” means Bitto et al are bullying journal editors not to retract their fraud. Actually, Squadrito previously threatened in his emails to sue me. Now he pretends to be impaired by my alleged anonymity:

“The first to report the case was Leonid Schneider on his blog For Better Science where, with the help of two pseudonymous scientific fraud hunters, Aneurus Inconstans and Cheshire, he denounced dozens of alleged irregularities in the articles by Bitto, Squadrito and the group of the University of Messina. “They are anonymous attacks,” comments Squadrito. “The FDA is reviewing Limbrel, it has seen that the side effects are not serious and will have it put back on the market,” says the professor. «We asked the journals that expressed the “expression of concern” to be able to repeat the experiments. They accepted. The errors that we have been accused of are marginal and do not compromise the result».

As you usual, everything this Sicilian gobshite utters is a combination of lies and threats. Even towards the children upon whom he demands to be allowed to continue experimenting.

First signs of desperation: Bitto now publishes with the predatory Bentham (Lui et al 2022):

Scholarly publishing

360 bands, all duplicated

Meanwhile, Squadrito, Bitto and their friends were served yet another retraction, just in time to be mentioned in the Secolo XIX article. The paper was indeed untenable, even its age didn’t protect it:

Alessandra Ottani , Daniela Giuliani , Chiara Mioni , Maria Galantucci , Letteria Minutoli, Alessandra Bitto , Domenica Altavilla, Davide Zaffe , Annibale R Botticelli , Francesco Squadrito, Salvatore Guarini Vagus nerve mediates the protective effects of melanocortins against cerebral and systemic damage after ischemic stroke Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism (2009) doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2008.140

Aneurus inconstans exclaimed in April 2022:

I cannot believe my eyes… Literally hundreds of identical bands. How could this pass peer-review? The journal JCBFM belonged to the Nature Publishing Group in 2008, now it’s a SAGE journal. […] There might be 360 bands in this article, ALL are duplicated.”

Fig 2
Fig 4
Fig 6
Fig 3
Fig 5

On 2 February 2023, that bizarre paper was retracted. The retraction notice went:

“A reader approached us with concerns that were raised on PubPeer regarding the figures in this article. PubPeer commentors noticed that numerous Western blots appear highly similar. An Editorial assessment of the concerns raised indicated the following:

  • [1. Figure 2A pJNK panel lanes 2, 5–9 appear duplicated
  • [2. Figure 2A JNK panel all lanes appear duplicated
  • [3. Figure 2A β-Actin panel all lanes appear duplicated
  • [4. Figure 2B pJNK panel lanes 2, 5–9 appear duplicated
  • [5. Figure 2B JNK panel all lanes appear duplicated
  • [6. Figure 2B β-Actin panel all lanes appear duplicated
  • [7. Figure 2C pJNK panel lanes 2, 5–9 appear duplicated
  • [8. Figure 2C JNK panel all lanes appear duplicated
  • [9. Figure 2C β-Actin panel all lanes appear duplicated
  • [10. Figure 2D pJNK panel lanes 2, 5–9 appear duplicated
  • [11. Figure 2D JNK panel all lanes appear duplicated
  • [12. Figure 2D β-Actin panel all lanes appear duplicated
  • [13. Figure 3A pERK panel lanes 2, 5–9 appear duplicated
  • [14. Figure 3A ERK panel all lanes appear duplicated
  • [15. Figure 3A β-Actin panel all lanes appear duplicated
  • [16. Figure 3B pERK panel lanes 2, 5–9 appear duplicated
  • [17. Figure 3B ERK panel all lanes appear duplicated
  • [18. Figure 3B β-Actin panel all lanes appear duplicated
  • [19. Figure 3C pERK panel lanes 2, 5–9 appear duplicated
  • [20. Figure 3C ERK panel all lanes appear duplicated
  • [21. Figure 3C β-Actin panel all lanes appear duplicated
  • [22. Figure 3D pERK panel lanes 5–9 appear duplicated
  • [23. Figure 3D ERK panel all lanes appear duplicated
  • [24. Figure 3D β-Actin panel all lanes appear duplicated
  • [25. Figure 4A β-Actin panel all lanes appear duplicated
  • [26. Figure 4B TNF-α panel 2, 5–9 appear duplicated
  • [27. Figure 4B β-Actin panel all lanes appear duplicated
  • [28. Figure 4C TNF-α panel 2, 5–9 appear duplicated
  • [29. Figure 4C β-Actin panel all lanes appear duplicated
  • [30. Figure 4D TNF-α panel 2, 5–9 appear duplicated
  • [31. Figure 4D β-Actin panel all lanes appear duplicated
  • [32. Figure 5A Caspase-3 panel 2, 5–9 lanes appear duplicated
  • [33. Figure 5B β-Actin panel all lanes appear duplicated
  • [34. Figure 6A Caspase-3 panel 2, 5–9 lanes appear duplicated
  • [35. Figure 6B β-Actin panel all lanes appear duplicated

The authors deny the images are duplicated and say that the appearance of duplication may be related to the low quality of the images. The authors were unable to provide the data used for this experiment, but have explained that they are able to replicate their findings with unprocessed samples to which they still have access. However, the Journal Editors deemed their response insufficient to the original concerns raised due to their inability to access the data underlying this article.”

Catanian papermillers

We stay in Sicily.

Meet assistant professor Giuseppe Caruso and associate professor Filippo Caraci, at the University of Catania. Caruso has a fancy personal website where he informs us that he published 80 papers and has an h-index of 25. From 2014, Caruso’s annual publication output went: 1, 1, 2, 4, 5, 11, 18, 22, 18, and 4 papers in 2023 already.

Well, from their PubPeer record it looks like the Catania duo purchased at least 7 of these are papermill products, jointly with some Saudis and Egyptians, especially with the known fraudsters Usama Fahmy (40 papers on PubPeer) and Nabil Alhakamy (50 papers on PubPeer).

Here is one such representative case, a fake papermill product, published of course in MDPI, of course in a special issue:

Zuhier A. Awan , Usama A. Fahmy , Shaimaa M. Badr-Eldin , Tarek S. Ibrahim , Hani Z. Asfour , Mohammed W. Al-Rabia , Anas Alfarsi , Nabil A. Alhakamy , Wesam H. Abdulaal , Hadeel Al Al Sadoun Nawal Helmi, Ahmad O. Noor, Filippo Caraci , Diena M. Almasri , Giuseppe Caruso The Enhanced Cytotoxic and Pro-Apoptotic Effects of Optimized Simvastatin-Loaded Emulsomes on MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cells Pharmaceutics (2020) doi: 10.3390/pharmaceutics12070597 

Diaporthe angelicae: “Figure 8b in this paper has been used again in Alhakamy et al 2020
figure 8 (a and b) of this paper is sharing the similar results with Shaimaa et al 2021 (the same lab)

And so on. This is my favourite, proving that the flow cytometry plots were hand-forged out of thin air.

Arphia conspersa: “figure 8 dots are leaking outside the plot as well as some white dots appeared on the x-axis resemble the white dots in the graph which should represent empty spaces.

Caruso and Caraci did not reply to me email when I asked how much they paid for their authorships. Professional secret!

On his website, Caruso informs us what a good person he is – look, our hero support the charity Save the Children. I don’t know how much exactly Caruso donates there, but I daresay it’s much less than what he pays to Egyptian papermills.

Photoshop classics

We remain on the topic of Italian fraud.

Most of the image fraud in research papers from two decades ago looks amateurish. Adobe Photoshop was still rather new, it took some time till scientists mastered it to produce the desired results without raising suspicions among editors and reviewers. Back then, some forgeries were still done with scissors and glue, like in the good old times. But these Italian masters achieved amazing professionalism already in this 23 year old paper:

M Sabbatini , P Strocchi , L Vitaioli , F Amenta The hippocampus in spontaneously hypertensive rats: a quantitative microanatomical study Neuroscience (2000) doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(00)00297-9 

The nature of the duplications suggests the artists have been removing labelling from the figures they stole elsewhere. Amazing skills, at the turn of the last century.

Aneurus Inconstans previously wrote about Maurizio Sabbatini and his mentor Francesco Amenta at the University of Camerino:

The Name of the Foes

“I am Jorge de Burgos. I believe research should pause in searching for the progress of knowledge. Right now, we don’t need more papers, we rather need more knowledge by going through a continuous and sublime recapitulation to figure out what is true and what is fake” – Aneurus Inconstans

But who knew they had such skills! I guess their forgeries of today are undetectable….

Wiley corrects a paper

Wiley, the fraud-tolerant publisher of papermill garbage which likes to profess a heroic research integrity stance in public, corrected a paper last year.

Tiancheng Li , Yao Qin , Zhen Zhen , Hong Shen , Tiechuan Cong , Erik Schiferle , Shuifang Xiao Long non-coding RNA HOTAIR/microRNA-206 sponge regulates STC2 and further influences cell biological functions in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma Cell Proliferation (2019) doi: 10.1111/cpr.12651 

Hoya camphorifolia: “Fig 2J. “cell cycle and cell cycle ratio detected by flow cytometry”. Raw cell-count histogram in NC panel has somehow developed an overhang.”

Basically, the flow cytometry plots were hand-drawn.

Figs 2K, 7L. The spacing of points in the upper right quadrants of these flow-cytometry plots is neater and more regular than one would expect for cells being sampled randomly from an underlying distribution.”

Also these FACS plots were fake.

On 2 March 2022 Wiley issued this Corrigendum:

“In Li et al.,1 the following errors were published:

The images provided for Figure 2J, K, L and M and Figure 7J, K, L and M were incorrect because the cell cluster was not properly set resulting in inaccurate results.

In addition, an incorrect image was provided for the immunofluorescence NC group in Figure 8H.

The corrected images for Figures 2J, K, L, M, 7J, K, L, M and 8H are provided below:”

One can trust that the replacement data is just as made-up. But then again, the journal is run overwhelmingly by Chinese academics, some based in US. They might need to issue another Corrigendum for this inept papermill fabrication:

Hoya camphorifolia: “There remain the three Western Blot images, which are stylised in appearance, all strings of sausages on a featureless grey background.
Fig 7A. Two panels seem to be overlapping details of a single larger image, despite their different labels.

By the way, while almost all of that paper’s authors are Chinese and affiliated with the Peking University First Hospital in Beijing, one is not: Erik Schiferle. There are no online record of a cancer researcher from “Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School” of this name, but there is a PhD student with background in engineering studying nanotechnology in an optical nanomaterials lab at Boston University. Who didn’t reply to my email.

International collaboration

Finally, a product of an Iranian papermill. Published in June 2022 in Nature Scientific Reports.

Fardad Faress , Amin Yari , Fereshteh Rajabi Kouchi , Ava Safari Nezhad , Alireza Hadizadeh , Leili Sharif Bakhtiar, Yousef Naserzadeh , Niloufar Mahmoudi Developing an accurate empirical correlation for predicting anti-cancer drugs’ dissolution in supercritical carbon dioxide Scientific Reports (2022) doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-13233-x 

As explained on PubPeer, the paper is full of nonsense references, including to to a certain C. Li and a certain YM Chu, two Chinese fraudsters who pay money to papermills for exactly this service. The authors have all Persian names. So far, so common for this kind of fake science.

But look at the authors’ academic affiliations.

  1. Department of Business, Data Analysis, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), Edinburg, TX, 78539, USA Fardad Faress
  2. Faculty of Pharmacy, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences (IUMS), Isfahan, Iran Amin Yari
  3. Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering, Boise State University, Boise, ID, 83725, USA Fereshteh Rajabi Kouchi
  4. Faculty of Pharmacy, Bogomolets National Medical University, Kyiv, Ukraine Ava Safari Nezhad
  5. MD, School of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran Alireza Hadizadeh
  6. Research Center for Advanced Technologies in Cardiovascular Medicine, Cardiovascular Diseases Research Center Institute, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran Alireza Hadizadeh
  7. Protein Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran Leili Sharif Bakhtiar
  8. Department of AgroBiotechnology, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University), 117198, Moscow, Russia Yousef Naserzadeh & Niloufar Mahmoudi

It was 2022, and here we have “scholars” from Iran, Ukraine, russia and USA collaborating! Nobody at Scientific Reports raised an eyebrow.

News in Tweets

  • Dorothy Bishop on PsyrXiv: “To tackle paper mills, it is crucial to move from a focus on individual articles to identify and root out individuals who have used positions as guest editors of special issues to flood the literature with fraudulent material
  • Another retraction for Joe Shapiro, Nader Abraham and Kamal Sodhi (Sodhi et al 2020): “The editors of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN) retract the ankle referenced above. Questions about the integrity of the image data in Supplemental Figure 8 were raised on PubPeer in September 1021. Through our own use of image evaluation tools and feedback from an independent expert, we determined that there is sufficient evidence of image manipulation in Supplemental Figure 8 and Figure 2C to warrant retraction. Additionally, the fundamental validity of this study is in question, since several recently retracted articles authored by the same author group were extensively cited in the JASN article. An “Expression of Concern was previously published while the JASN editors investigated these concerns […] The authors failed to provide complete source data for the published images to address the allegations of image manipulation. The blot images supplied by the authors appear to be cropped images (some with the marker lanes cropped out), and the pixel structure of the images appears to show that they have been subjected to image compression using image-processing software. As noted above, there was also evidence that suggests the images supplied as source data were themselves manipulated. 3. The JASN article cites and relies heavily on foundational scientific work in publications that have been retracted. The studies in question were retracted largely based on evidence of image manipulation. The referenced articles are citations 2. 3. 21 and 31. and the retraction of these studies calls into question the validity of the model and of some of the as-sumptions made in the JASN anicle.
  • After fake figures, we had fake raw data. Now we have fake lab books. Trust the editors to swallow this as well. Ren et al PLOS One 2014
  • But it passed peer review! Ioannis Grigoriadis, “QFFT quantum circuits for exact solutions of the black-hole singularity-mass schrödinger equations on quantum kerr- (A) ds galilean myers– perr driven gravitational transformations in a lorentzian path integral for the anti-COVID- 19 roccuffirnatm, roccuttirnaTM, and eplerotiffirnaTM drug designsCogent Engineering (2022) DOI: 10.1080/23311916.2022.2114198 The author on PubPeer last November: “see you in Nobel prizes… thank you very much….Retraction notice 3 February 2023: “Since publication, further assessment has determined there are substantial concerns related to the integrity of the content, and the article does not meet the expected editorial standards of the journal.” Right…..
  • Some papermill humour.
  • Finally, on the topic of “weather” balloons.


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12 comments on “Schneider Shorts 10.02.2023 – Pound of Flesh

  1. Awesome. Happy Friday.


  2. Like Valerie Weaver, Alan Ashworth is a big knob at UCSF. He also has a fair sized Pubpeer record, but that is in a different country so UCSF doesn’t care.


  3. Thanks for the news, Leonid.

    And of course that Umut Ozcan kindly donated $2500 to Sabatini in his GoFund campaign. Another poor men victim of the cancel culture.


  4. I dont think that Barbara Kahn is Ronald’s wife.


  5. Have you no sympathy. That poor Weaver woman can’t even afford periods, commas, semicolons, or any other form of punctuation. Maybe they went with that pound of flesh. Methinks she doth protest too much.


  6. Pingback: Riepilogo – ocasapiens

  7. NMH, the failed scientist and incel

    Being a part of the “Bik attack team” is a high complement; regrettably, I am simply to incompetent (cant spot duplications easily) to be a part of such a skilled and honorable group. Ms Bik and her team should apply for one of those “genius grants”.


  8. Geftinib

    Poor Valerie Weaver! Only if she learned from our English pros how to deal with pubpeer comments by being passive-aggressive and constantly taking the piss!

    “None of these issues in my opinion change the conclusions of the study. I see no point in retracting this paper or publishing an erratum at this late stage… The investigation found that the findings of the paper are still correct and important, even accounting for the errors made” Quote by Ian McNeish
    Who conducted the investigation, we’ll never know.

    Another piss-take that Valerie could have used was ” the raw data is not available”


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