Research integrity University Affairs

Bad science sanctioned in Ukraine

"...the Commission emphasized that some of the members of the author's team paid lip service to integrity in science, while at the same time consciously or unconsciously allowing deviations from the principles they promoted in their own activities. "

A fake paper in MDPI. Research misconduct findings in Ukraine. One of the guilty parties is a National Academy of Science member, champion of academic ethics, and peddler of Angel Milk and anti-aging creams. My contribution to bringing Ukrainian science integrity onto above the EU level.

One day December 2021, Cheshire was busy with his hobby: trawling the literature for fake Alzheimer’s research. Among one fake papers Cheshire (aka Actinopolyspora biskrensis) found and flagged on PubPeer, was this clinical study in MDPI, its main authors from Kyiv, Ukraine. 23 participants, 16 of them suffering from mild memory loss were subjected to “intermittent hypoxic-hyperoxic training”, i.e. inhaling air with different oxygen levels, which the authors decided improved cognitive scores and reduced Alzheimer’s biomarker’s in participants’ blood.

Basically, a bit similar (if less high-tech) than the Hyperbaric Oxygen nonsense which cures Alzheimer’s, old age, COVID-19 and everything else.

Now here is the MDPI paper, its main authors are affiliated with the Bogomoletz Institute of Physiology in Kyiv, some are with the Chebotarev Institute of Gerontology, also in Kyiv, one corresponding author is not Ukrainian though: the hypoxia expert Lei Xi from the Division of Cardiology at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, USA. It seems Xi doesn’t work there anymore, his institutional profile page was recently deleted.

Zoya O. Serebrovska, Tetiana V. Serebrovska, Viktor A. Kholin, Lesya V. Tumanovska, Angela M. Shysh, Denis A. Pashevin, Sergii V. Goncharov, Dmytro Stroy , Oksana N. Grib, Valeriy B. Shatylo, Natalia Yu. Bachinskaya, Egor Egorov, Lei Xi, Victor E. Dosenko Intermittent Hypoxia-Hyperoxia Training Improves Cognitive Function and Decreases Circulating Biomarkers of Alzheimer’s Disease in Patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Pilot Study International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2019) doi: 10.3390/ijms20215405

The Western blot shown in the lower panel of Figure 2 may have some repeated bands (red boxes). […] The smears marked with green boxes also share some similarities after 180-degree rotation.”

A fake blot with copy-pasted bands. Which should have failed peer review even without the duplication, because instead of continuous gels we are presented with a Franken-blot, every single gel band sourced separately from sources unknown. But it was published via the toxic system of special issues, and the incompetents who waved it through were the guest editors Michele Samaja professor at the University of Milan, Italy, and Giuseppina Milano, postdoc at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois in Lausanne, Switzerland.

A Ukrainian reader of For Better Science saw the PubPeer post and in June 2022, he informed the Bogomoletz Institute. The institute issued its report on 8 September 2022, here is the Ukrainian original:

Translation of key part (via DeepL):

“As of 06.09.2022, the commission received two written responses from representatives of the authors’ team, Z.O. Serebrovska and A.M. Shysh, which reflect the consolidated position of all authors.
Without going into technical details, this position can be summarized as follows
1) The authors acknowledge that the illustrative material of the representative Western blots contains inconsistencies indicated in the letter of [the whistleblower].
2) These inconsistencies are technical and not intentional.
3) They arose as a result of inattention during the multistage processing of visualized protein bands (developing and scanning films, copying images), selection of representative images, and the involvement of many employees in this process.
4) A significant part of the strips shown in the figures has been lost over time and cannot be reproduced [the clinical trial received its ethics approval on 11 June 2017, -LS].
5) The conclusions of the article are based on the statistical processing of densitometry data of a large number of strips and therefore cannot be affected by inconsistencies in individual representative images.
6) The authors of the article are ready to apply to the journal (and have already made attempts to do so) to provide a correction to the article, in which the relevant representative images of western blot strips are replaced with new images for whichfilms and laboratory records have been preserved.

Based on the materials received, the commission considered it possible to accept the explanations of the authors and supported their desire to submit a correction to the journal. At the same time, the commission proposed to reprimand the authors for inattention and negligence in the preparation and design of the article and to warn them against a possible repetition of such actions in the future. In this context, the Commission emphasized that some of the members of the author’s team paid lip service to integrity in science, while at the same time consciously or unconsciously allowing deviations from the principles they promoted in their own activities. The Commission noted that in addition to the shortcomings noted by [the whistleblower], the article contained a number of other “gaffes” that passed the attention of the reviewers during the review of the journal article and which indicate inattention, irresponsibility of the authors, lack of verification of their own work during the preparation for publication. However, since the article has passed peer review, the commission did not consider it necessary to emphasize those.

Based on this, the commission laid the responsibility on the Institute’s Academic Council of the Institute for punishing the authors for submitting unverified illustrative material for publication and the reputational damage incurred by the Institute . As a punishment, the commission proposes to consider the possibility of depriving the authors of the article of the support from the Institute’s Academic Council for their applications for external financing of future research projects for a period of 1-3 years (at the choice of the Academic Council).

The Commission also recommended that the Academic Council instruct the heads of departments and all researchers of the Institute to keep laboratory journals (in digital or paper form), to properly record experimental work, and to preserve primary laboratory documentation for as long as possible (but not less than 5 years) after the publication of the relevant data.”

Funding ban over one fake blot, wow. Basically, this Ukrainian investigation was better than anything I saw in Germany even. Never mind Spain or France, where they would declare their scientists to be innocent victims of harassment, issue lawsuit threats to all and sundry, and charge the whistleblowers with fraud, treason and terrorism (I am not exaggerating here).

Pravda of Jessus report, CNRS Politburo scared of own people

Following my recent article about attempts to fix data irregularities in the papers by CNRS’ chief biologist and director of l’Institut des sciences biologiques (INSB) Catherine Jessus, this state-owned French research institution, the biggest in Europe, now went full Pravda. Just as the notorious propaganda newspaper of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Pravda means…

Yes, the Bogomoletz investigators don’t explicitly ask for a retraction, despite establishing research misconduct, arguing that the fraudulent paper passed peer review by Italian academics in a Swiss journal. You see, in Ukraine they still naively think that this is a quality sign. They seem to have no clue that MDPI is a garbage heap of papermill fraud where literally anything goes with zero consequences.

In fact, the whistleblower did contact the responsible MDPI editor for this section. On 22 February 2022, just before russia started its full-scale genocidal war on Ukraine, the whistleblower wrote to Irmgard Tegeder, pharmacology professor at the University of Frankfurt, Germany. No reply. He wrote again on 11 March 2022, pleading:

Your silence means that the journal accepts fraud science and violation of research integrity. Am I right? I understand that the authors are from Ukraine, and at the moment, it might be impossible to provide original images for the blots. Still, in this case, one should expect at least publication of Expression of concern until the issue is solved,  of course, if the Journal takes care of its reputation and reliability and reproducibility in science.

Nothing. I wrote to Tegeder on 18 March 2023 and received silence as well. To be fair, much more respectable publishers than MDPI do absolutely nothing about much worse fraud on PubPeer. Also to be fair, academic editors have no say in editorial policy with publishers like MDPI (or Frontiers, or Hindawi). The editors, recruited preferably from Europe and USA, merely allow these publishers to advertise with their credentials and to invite submissions on their behalf, in return they get rewarded with small sums of money and/or APC waivers.

On 22 March 2023 I wrote to Tegeder again. Finally, she reacted:

Dear IJMS Team 

please take care of the emails below and the respective paper.

The Western Blots in the paper are inacceptable narrow single cutouts of bands. Full uncut/unprocessed membranes are not provided as supplement

It belongs to the Special Issue : “Adaptation to Hypoxia: A chimera?” Editors: Prof. Dr. Michele SamajaDr. Giuseppina Milano

I have not been involved in the decision. 

Regards Irmgard Tegeder

I don’t think MDPI will do anything now. Why should they, trash science, even from papermills, is MDPI’s business. And it’s not like the editors will leave in protest or anything.

Russkiy Mir at Elsevier and MDPI

Alexander Magazinov presents you two russian professors whom Elsevier and MDPI consider respectable: a Lt Colonel of putin’s mass-murdering army, and a machine-gun totting rascist. Both buy from papermills.

In any case, the Bogomoletz cheaters drew the correct lessons from the affair.

  1. MDPI can be trusted with fraud
  2. Best not to publish any western blots at all.

And that is how this new MDPI joke about the hypoxia-hyperoxia cure for Alzheimer’s came to be, “Revised: 11 March 2022“:

Zoya O. Serebrovska , Lei Xi , Lesya V. Tumanovska , Angela M. Shysh , Sergii V. Goncharov , Michael Khetsuriani , Taisia O. Kozak , Denis A. Pashevin , Victor E. Dosenko, Sergii V. Virko , Viktor A. Kholin , Oksana N. Grib , Natalie A. Utko , Egor Egorov , Anna O. Polischuk , Tetiana V. Serebrovska Response of Circulating Inflammatory Markers to Intermittent Hypoxia-Hyperoxia Training in Healthy Elderly People and Patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment Life (2022) doi: 10.3390/life12030432 

Cortinarius porphyrophaeus:

Could authors provide originals of WB to the figure? On the figure 3 they represent only results of densitometry without any blots. Moreover, journal requests the raw Western blots

It was supposed to prove the successful conclusion of the Ukrainian research grant with which the authors got in trouble with their earlier MDPI paper. It was a new clinical trial (“protocol #9, approval date: 13 May 2019”), with 27 participants. Quite possibly it was the hypoxia researcher Lei Xi from USA who decided to use Ukraine as a place to do his human research cheap and without much bureaucratic fuss. Unfortunately, Ukraine used to be a popular destination for ethics dumping in clinical research.

The whistleblower reported this publication to the Bogomoletz Institute leadership in June 2022 as well.

It was Zoya Serebrovska, who inherited the research project from her mother Tetiana Serebrovska (who died in April 2021 due to COVID-19), who replied on PubPeer in July 2022.

The whistleblower had a look at those original blots and noticed that the loading controls were useless at best. Some key samples were heavily under-loaded:

At least this time the authors bothered to store their raw data from their new clinical trial instead of destroying it right away.

“A Cow Like That Gives 5,000 Liters a Day” by Maria Primachenko (1978)

Now, the last author of the first MDPI paper (and coauthor fo the second) is Victor Dosenko, Head of Department of General and Molecular Pathophysiology at the Bogomoletz Institute and member of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences. He is a very interesting character.

A few years ago, Dosenko postulated that cow milk can be both healthy and dangerous, depending on which allele of the casein gene the cattle breed carries, here is Dosenko explaining this on Ukrainian breakfast TV in 2022. The A2 type milk is good, A1 is evil, yet you largely don’t notice the effect because most milk is from hybrid cows bearing both A1 and A2 alleles. To be fair, this A1 toxicity theory was originally postulated not by Dosenko, it’s 30 years old and there’s even a Wikipedia page on this.

In 2009, the EU authority EFSA concluded that A1 milk is safe:

“Based on the present review of available scientific literature, a cause-effect relationship between the oral intake of BCM7 [bovine β-casomorphin 7, alleged A1 analogue] or related peptides and aetiology or course of any suggested non-communicable diseases cannot be established. Consequently, a formal EFSA risk assessment of food-derived peptides is not recommended.”

So what. Still no reason not to promote A2 milk as miracle health food! Dosenko eagerly advertises for the company “Angel Milk” and its products, e.g here and here:

“This milk is mild. Especially in old age, even for people, who are sensitive to lactose, because this milk is evolutionary. All animals – yaks, buffaloes, goats, camels – have A2 milk. We must return to this kind of milk not to have health problems. ”

Source: Facebook

A2 is the “Angel Milk”, and the A1 milk is of the devil, causing “sudden infant death syndrome, diabetes, childhood obesity, and heart disease” – this is what the Angel Milk website tells us. Of course Dosenko rarely mentions that he actually co-founded this company Angel Milk Genetical Lab which he keeps advertising for (like he does here and here).

That’s not all Dosenko can do for your health. He derives his inspiration from the man after whom his institute is named: Alexander Bogomolets, who worked on life extension on specific orders from Stalin. Bogomolets even invented a life-extension drug initially called antireticular cytotoxic serum, later named after the inventor. It was basically an antibody cocktail targetting connective tissues. We are informed:

““The creation of this drug was an event at the level of the first flight into space,” says Viktor Dosenko.

In small doses, serum causes slight damage to the connective tissue and thus stimulates its work. The drug began to treat various complex diseases, including cardiovascular, oncological and various immunodeficiency states. Numerous then studies of the drug on laboratory animals, which were carried out at the Institute of Physiology, showed that it increases their lifespan.

“There are publications and scientific reports signed by prominent physicians of the time, indicating that the serum worked,” says Viktor Dosenko. But by modern standards, the effectiveness of the drug has not been investigated.”

Dosenko’s solution is senolytics. This is why he invented a “senolytic cream” to keep your skin eternally young. Translated:

“Senolytic cream Kaetana is the result of the collaboration of Ukrainian scientists and dermatologists. The idea of ​​​​creating a cream based on the senolytic complex was suggested to representatives of the Kaetana brand by Viktor Dosenko, a pathologist and geneticist, head of the Bogomoletz Institute of Physiology, doctor of medical sciences. The knowledge of scientific specialists in the research area of senolytics plus the great knowledge of dermatologists in Kaetan – this is how the cream appeared, which has no analogues today.”

Dosenko was even supposed to give a promo seminar for Kaetana, just when the full-scale war began. As the company’s owner Ihor Kirikevich announced on Facebook for 3 March 2022, e.g here, or here:

Just very recently, Dosenko started to advertise for Traditional Chinese Medicine. Here, for an anti-stress concoction named Victorin, made of Rhodiola rosea and ginseng. He cites in support an MDPI review by a commercial supplier of botanical extracts (!), two papers in Journal of Ginseng Research (!), and even his own authority (translated):

“In addition, we found a significant time group effect in the visually controlled continuous performance test, suggesting a positive effect of Korean Red Ginseng on cognitive function.”

Those sceptical of his “scientific” claims Dosenko literally smears as “creationists”. I guess this TCM concoction against aerial bombardment stress is Dosenko’s personal contribution to the war effort? It is quite likely he earns money with Victorin advertisement as well.

Victor Dosenko advertises for “Victorin”

You may recall this from the institutional report:

“some of the members of the author’s team paid lip service to integrity in science, while at the same time consciously or unconsciously allowing deviations from the principles they promoted in their own activities”

Well, it probably referred to Dosenko who presents himself as a hero of academic ethics. For example, he used to be a big critic of the former Ukrainian minister for research and education, Serhiy Shkarlet, who was accused in 2020 of plagiarising his dissertation and dismissed a few days ago. But Dosenko is also a big critic of the newly appointed minister Oksen Lisovyi, whom Dosenko also mistrusts despite the fact that Lisovyi himself pre-emptively asked several independent experts to scrutinise his dissertation. Here is an open letter co-signed by Dosenko, where he suspects Lisovyi of plagiarism.

But Dosenko’s stance on real or perceived plagiarism lacks on consequence. Here a recent paper of his:

Olexandr Volosovets , Sergii Kryvopustov , Olena Mozyrska , Sergii Goncharov , Anna Kupkina , Oksana Iemets , Victor Dosenko Single Nucleotide Polymorphism of Dectin-1 Gene Associates with Atopic Dermatitis in Children Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences (2022) doi: 10.3889/oamjms.2022.10513

The first author Olexandr Volosovets, professor of paediatrics at the Bogomolets National Medical University, is a plagiarist, see this Ukrainian-language analysis from 2016 of two of his papers, jointly authored plagiarised with a certain S Vrublevska who retorted by threatening their critics and whistleblowers with civil and criminal lawsuits.

The anti-plagiarist Dosenko had no qualms whatsoever to join forces with the known plagiarist Volosovets. That’s what drinking the wrong milk does to you.


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20 comments on “Bad science sanctioned in Ukraine

  1. I wish one day the EU, UK, US, etc will adopt the Ukrainian standards of reserch integrity.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Klaas van Dijk

    @Aneurus and others, the ban is directly related to my efforts to retract a fraudulent study on the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warbler. The study is fraudulent, because the raw research data do not exist. The first author has also declared that he is willing to retract this study.

    All at LOWI refuse to accept that the raw research data of this study do not exist.

    All at LOWI refuse to accept that there are 0 = zero experts who are willing to declare that the study is based on solid science and that the raw research data do exist.

    All at LOWI refuse to provide me with, (a) comments on 2 reports at OSF about this case (both reports are already several years in the possesion of LOWI), (b) comments on a preprint at (online since the end of 2020), and (c) a manuscript which is based on an improved version of this preprint.

    So which options are left when these people at LOWI are unwilling to provide me with a very long and a very harsh list of very tough comments on any of these 4 documents (3 are in the public domain for already a very long period of time)?

    Give Klaas van Dijk a ban for 2 years. That’s how it works in The Netherlands when you have no power.

    It goes without saying that it was of course very embarassing for LOWI that Ronald Meester of VU Amsterdam has retracted a horrible antivax preprint shortly after LOWI had decided that my appeal about this case was malicious and that I had abused my rights to file an appeal at LOWI about this case.

    There is towards my opinion a need for a public debate about the current activities of LOWI. I am aware of at least one complainer who was also very dissatisfied with the acting of LOWI.

    Note that LOWI is punishing people who are not working according to their strict rules that all is confidential. Note as well that LOWI has until now failed to provide any evidence about the need to process appeals and complaints according to their own very strict confidential rules.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe Leonid could write a piece on this story. I forsee the title –> The lows at LOWI: a Klaas action 😀


      • Klaas van Dijk

        Aneus, the main issue is the recent decision by LOWI that Ronald Meester of VU Amsterdam does not need to comply to the standards 35 and 45 in Chapter 3 of the 2018 version Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity

        It is mandatory for any researcher at any of the Dutch universities to act always, and always for the full 100%, to all 61 standards in Chapter 3 of this code. This decision by LOWI implies that there is an exception for these standards for Ronald Meester. The decision by LOWI implies that others might argue that such an exception is also valid for them.

        Another main issue of this recent decision by LOWI about this case implies that there is no need for Ronald Meester to ensure that an ethical approval / permission in regard to the “reports about adverse events following vaccination” in this preprint is fully in line with the requirements of standard 26 in Chapter 3 of this Code. The decision by LOWI implies that other researchers might argue that they can act accordingly.

        See for backgrounds and unanswered questions about this silently retracted preprint.

        All at LOWI, see for a full list of people at LOWI, adhere for the full 100% to these new decisions of LOWI.

        I have therefore filed today a complaint to IGJ, the Health and Youth Care Inspectorate of the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, against Joeri Tijdink, a member of LOWI and a fully licenced psychiatrist, for facilitating the spreading of large amounts of dangerous medical disinformation about COVID-19 by a.o. Connie Jimenez of VU Amsterdam, Ronald Meester of VU Amsterdam, Evelien Peeters of UMC Utrecht, and (all of) Artsen Covid Collectief.

        Spreading medical disinformation about COVID-19 is strictly forbidden for any licenced health care worker in The Netherlands, and thus also for Joeri Tijdink.

        Facilitating such a behaviour is towards my opinion undermining this policy, and in particular when this facilitating is conducted by a body like LOWI.

        Joeri Tijdink regards my behaviour as malicious and Joeri Tijdink is one of the people at LOWI who decided that I am abusing my right to file complaints and that I deserve a ban for 2 years to file appeals at LOWI. It is thus up to Joeri Tijdink to respond to all kind of questions about this topic, that’s how it works in a modern democracy with a free press.


  3. The main characters of the story have already
    found who ordered the story, the corresponding member of russian academy of science to show up their “patriotism”. They do not care about fake blots, conlifcts of interest and selling pseudoscience to people by Dosenko. Those who criticize Dosenko and agents of kremlin.


    • Interesting statement by Bogomoletz Institute on Facebook (translated):
      I was surprised and saddened to read an article by some blogger from Germany about the situation with falsification of a single blot in an article authored by the staff of the Institute, the link to which the official website of the Institute posted on the first page and shared on all possible TG channels (to the detriment of their own reputation).
      We want to make a comment.
      Zero tolerance for academic dishonesty is the mandatory credo of a true scientist. Hopefully all ifb staff understand this, but no one is insured from mistakes. The commission dealing with the issue of fake drawing at the Institute made its conclusions, the authors of the article admitted mistakes and suffered a very severe punishment – a two-year ban on grants.
      However, the article of a blogger from Germany causes a disgusting sense of order for the purpose of bullying one-only person.
      Let’s point out a few moments:
      1. Strangely, a blogger from Germany receives all internal documents of the Institute. What’s more – miraculously he knows the oral statements of members of the IFB Scientific Council, which are not listed in any protocol.
      2. Strangely, the blogger from Germany did not turn to any author of the article for comments to understand their position.
      3. Oddly, the German blogger focuses on the one author who clearly didn’t make the controversial western blot, and who isn’t even the “corresponding author” of this article.
      4. Strangely, the German blogger is not interested in the name of the author who exactly did that western blot and “mixed up the pictures”, which is also successfully silenced by both the commission and the directorate.
      5. Slander and accusations against one of the authors unrelated to the article are not confirmed by any links to unlawful or malicious acts; the links provided do not correspond to the text.
      6. The ears of a correspondent member of the Russian Academy of Sciences are pricked with every line of this article of a German blogger…
      But everything will be fine, but probably not in our Institute (


  4. Importantly, this is not an official Facebook page of the Institute.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hahaha
    The main hero “patriotic” prof. Dosenko has article published in 2018 with russians


  6. EnthoRhino

    Maybe the author of this article should take his head out of his ass and talk more about the science and less about his own petty annoyances. So far it is a fake western blot, but he managed not only to make it about ALL ukrainian science (see the name of the article), but also to picture one of the biggest ukrainian scientists, Bogomolets, as a Stalin puppet. Maybe if author of this article spent more of his time reading articles, and not combing through someone else’s (in his case Dosenko’s) facebook posts the whole thing would be more palatable. But I guess publication about factchecking and retraction are immune to retractions or factchecking, aren’t they?


  7. An exorbitantly manipulative opus with a suspicious fixation on the person who was among the authors, and is not even the corresponding author, not to mention the fact that he is also not the performer of that ill-fated blot. Btw, the author does not pay a single line of attention to the origin of errors or manipulations but openly gets personal instead. I can conclude, and it seems that the purpose of writing the article wasn’t to elucidate the truth, as journalists usually do, to which the author considers himself, but to show us the worst sides of Prof. Dosenko personally. After all, if the protagonist of the opus is Prof. Dosenko, why not put him in the heading, instead of making loud generalizations about all Ukrainian science?


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