Schneider Shorts of 31 March 2023 – Unexpected retraction for Italian trachea transplant surgeon, first retraction to US cancer bigwig and lady friend, retraction of retraction for Georgia State papermiller, helping Iranian peers from Germany, a Canadian whistleblower’s relentless fight, with rascist academic elites, Germany’s Nazi expert, and finally, advice from a child prodigy on how to work hard and learn a lot!
Table of Discontent
- Upon re-evaluation of the case – unretractable Macchiarini paper retracted
- Artifacts introduced by the comb – first retraction for Elsa Flores and Tyler Jacks
- A mistaken editor – “My name is Alireza Jolfaei. I am not a guest editor of Hindawi”
- Papermill Heroes – Spandidos and Sabel celebrated by FT
- No editorial action is required – Scientific Reports has its limits!
- This error does neither impact – papermiller Ming-Hui Zou de-retracts a paper
- Linking Iran and Germany – Ali Gorji picked wrong Iranian scientists to support
- Science is never political! – russian academic elites are bloodthirsty rascists and stupid on top
- Prepare to work hard and expect to learn a lot! – meet the Zhan Family
- The Society of Rage – German sociologist Cornelia Koppetsch is expert in Nazis
- Toronto business – Nancy Olivieri’s fight to stop poisoning of patients
- Codiak’s demise – Kalluri’s and Lander’s biotech files for bankruptcy protection
News in Tweets
Upon re-evaluation of the case
A very, very unexpected retraction for Paolo Macchiarini and his former acolyte Philipp Jungebluth.
Unexpected because I wrote already in 2018 about the journal Respiration and its publisher Karger bluntly telling the Swedish Karolinska Institutet and its rector to bugger off with their retraction request. The two Swedish patients whom Macchiarini et al tortured before their deaths for this paper: meh, many more where these came from. Patients are always expendable, but doctors’ careers – never.
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…
Incidentally, the German chief editor of Respiration, the University of Heidelberg professor Felix Herth, is a close collaborator of Jungebluth’s former patron at the same university, Hendrik Dienemann. The latter even re-published the now retracted Respiration case report as a German-language congress abstract (read details here). Jungebluth and all other authors remained, except one small change: Dienemann replaced Macchiarini, thus attributing the Swedish clinical study (and by extention the associated patient abuse) to himself! That congress abstract of course will never be retracted, or even spoken about.
This is the now retracted original paper:
Philipp Jungebluth, Bernhard Holzgraefe, Mei Ling Lim, Adil Doganay Duru, Vanessa Lundin, Nina Heldring, Oscar P.B. Wiklander, Joel Z. Nordin, Michael Chrobok, Christoph Roderburg, Sebastian Sjöqvist, Björn Anderstam, Antonio Beltrán Rodríguez, Johannes C. Haag, Ylva Gustafsson, Katharina G. Roddewig, Petra Jones, Matthew J.A. Wood, Tom Luedde, Ana I. Teixeira, Ola Hermanson, Ola Winqvist, Håkan Kalzén, Samir El Andaloussi, Evren Alici, and Paolo Macchiarini “Autologous Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells as Treatment in Refractory Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome” Respiration (2015) DOI: 10.1159/000441799
This was the retraction notice, published on:
“In 2018, the Vice Chancellor of Karolinska Institutet informed the journal that an institutional investigation found that the research in the article constituted scientific misconduct. The journal was asked to withdraw the article on this basis.
At the time it was concluded by the journal that “We believe that, based on the evidence available to the journal, we are not in the position to make a judgement on the whether or not to retract this article” . The letter from Karolinska Institutet regarding the investigation into the article and the response to the letter by three of the authors of the original article was published .
Karolinska Institutet found that the article is “based on data produced through scientific misconduct during the clinical research process. Even though the published paper as such obtained an ethical permit, the underlying research did not” . Karolinska Institutet found that the research “lacked any biological hypothesis based on either in vitro or in vivo (animal) data. The notebook also lacks notes on any advance discussion of the risks and benefits of the treatment, the theory on which it was based, the results of preclinical or other studies demonstrating effect, and safety; nor of any discussion that followed from the deterioration of the patient’s condition, in spite of which it was decided to continue the experimental treatment. This contravenes articles 14, 16, 17, and 21 of the 2013 Declaration of Helsinki (articles 31, 21, 18, and 12 of the 2008 version).” 
Upon re-evaluation of the case and in line with the Committee on Publication Ethics Guidelines for Retractions recommending that “Editors should consider retracting a publication if […] it reports unethical research” , we are retracting this article.
Ana I. Teixeira, Adil Duru and Vanessa Lundin agree with this retraction. The remaining authors did not respond or could not be reached for comment within the timeframe given.”
The Respiration editors spent five years wiping their arses with the Helsinki Convention. But I guess my old article eventually had an effect.
Macchiarini’s trachea transplant patients: the full list
This article lists all known (including those not officially declared) patients of the scandal surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, who received from him a cadaveric or plastic trachea. It will be updated whenever I receive any new evidence.
In case you wonder what Macchiarini and his people are up to these days? Treating patients of course! Macchiarini lives in Barcelona; he has licence to practice thoracic surgery not only in Spain but also in Italy and Germany, plus helpful friends in USA, Turkey and elsewhere. The killer surgeon also remains adjunct professor of the Hannover Medical School (MHH) where he trained many MD doctorate students.
One such doctoral student and co-author of the retracted Respiration paper (and on other retracted papers), Johannes Haag, successfully accomplished his training and made it as thoracic surgeon at the prestigious LMU Munich university.
Macchiarini’s most famous doctorate student however, his former right-hand man and surgeon apprentice Philipp Jungebluth, who was present or involved with almost every deadly trachea transplant, and for this very reason always protected by German judges, professors, university rectors and clinic heads, moved to his home town in Lower Saxony, retrained as orthopaedist and opened his own private praxis. You can also book his music band, Doc in the Fog, where Jungebluth is the lead vocalist!
Artifacts introduced by the comb
Another retraction, which happened quite swiftly. It affects Elsa R. Flores, Associate Director for Basic Science at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida, and her postdoctoral mentor, Tyler Jacks, MIT professor, HHMI investigator and a massive heavyweight of cancer research. I wrote about them before:
What Elsa Flores and Tyler Jacks taught each other
“PCR reactions run on agarose gels commonly look similar due to artifacts introduced by the agarose gel and comb.” Dr Elsa R Flores, Associate Director, Moffitt Cancer Center
This is the retracted paper:
Yu-Li Lin , Shomit Sengupta , Katherine Gurdziel , George W Bell , Tyler Jacks , Elsa R Flores p63 and p73 transcriptionally regulate genes involved in DNA repair PLoS Genetics (2009) doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000680
Previously, Flores explained on PubPeer:
“Agarose gels often look similar due to artifacts introduced by the comb. Image was not flipped as suggested above.”
The requests to share raw data went unanswered. Indeed, how does one explain that the fake gel bands from that evil Figure 5 from the PLOS Genetics study developed a life of their own? Must have been due to that magic comb!
Min Soon Cho , Io Long Chan , Elsa R. Flores ΔNp63 transcriptionally regulatesbrachyury, a gene with diverse roles in limb development, tumorigenesis and metastasis Cell Cycle (2010) doi: 10.4161/cc.9.12.12051
We don’t know what will happen to the Cell Cycle paper, but the one in PLOS Genetics is now retracted. PLOS even kindly informed me by email about this retraction notice on 27 March 2023:
“The corresponding author stated that the original uncropped images underlying Fig 5 are no longer available. They stated that, to their knowledge, the images were not manipulated.
In light of the concerns affecting multiple figure panels that question the integrity of these data, the PLOS Genetics Editors retract this article.
SS, KG, GWB, and TJ agreed with the retraction. ERF did not agree with the retraction. YLL either did not respond directly or could not be reached. SS, KG, and GWB stand by the article’s findings. KG apologizes for the issues with the published article.”
Oh dear. First ever retraction for Tyler Jacks, with his special lady ex-postdoc no less. Who was installed in 2022 as Associate Director of Basic Science to watch over research integrity at Moffitt.
A mistaken editor
A funny incident happened with the already bizarre case of the Hindawi Special Issue with around TWO HUNDRED FIFTY papers in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, named:
“Advanced Big Data Analysis Technologies for Environmental Monitoring Data”
As TigerBB8 found out, the Special issue’s guest editor Kaifa Zhao is a PhD student in Hong Kong. As Nick Wise noted:
“As far as I can tell from Google (not exhaustive checking), none of the published papers in the special issue have Pengjiang Qian as academic editor and only 5 or so have Alireza Jolfaei. The other 200 odd have been dealt with by Zhao Kaifa.
This seems like a lot of work for a PhD student when he is concurrently lead editor of another Hindawi special issue in Computational Intelligence and Neuroscience (54 papers so far).”
But PhD students editing special issues on behalf of papermills are defientely not a cause of concern for publishing industry. Not even the topic of this Short.
A discussion started on this thread:
Mengqi Yang Effect of Reading Activities on Children’s Mental Health under the Environment of Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning Journal of Environmental and Public Health (2022) doi: 10.1155/2022/1762767
Its references make no sense. Not only this. Dorothy Bishop noted:
And then, PubPeer moderating team posted this:
“We have received the following report:
“Dear Sir/Madam, My name is Alireza Jolfaei. I am not a guest editor of Hindawi and NEVER edited a paper for this SI https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jeph/si/870528/. Please delete my name from this post as the post is not true and contains false attribution. Thank you.“
Alireza Jolfaei is currently Associate Professor of Cybersecurity at Flinders University, previously affiliated with the Macquarie University, also in Australia. He is also Senior Member of the learned society Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and a committee chair there. He also informs us that he has “More than 100 publications” with “More than 4500 citations”.
Jolfaei is indeed not listed as guest editor of the horrible special issue now, but previously he was:
Smut Clyde found:
“Alireza Jolfaei is also listed as a Special Editor for a Special Issue of “Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine”, on “Advanced Computational Intelligence Methods and Ubiquitous Computing Model for Combating Infectious Disease 2021”. […] Another SI with Alireza Jolfaei listed as Guest Editor, presumably after someone using the Macquarie University email account confirmed his involvement to Hindawi: “Cyber-Physical Mobile Computing, Communications, and Sensing for Industrial Internet of Things” (under the auspices of Wireless Communications and Mobile Computing).”
I wrote to Jolfaei, and this is what he told me:
I asked Jolfaei to share with me his email communications with Hindawi where he allegedly protested about being listed as guest editor, even as handling editor on published papers, all allegedly without his approval. He replied:
I understand that there is most likely nothing to share and that Jolfaei is probably making things up to hide traces of something very naughty he did on the internet. That’s what you busy yourself with as professor for cybersecurity all day, I guess.
Jolfaei then wrote to PubPeer moderators demanding to delete all comments, his own and those by others mentioning him. His message was published as well.
Hindawi Garbage Sorting System, Based on Citations
Parashorea tomentella continues their investigation of Hindawi’s uneasy collaboration with Chinese papermills. Can it be solved with the promised 511 retractions?
The difference between professional journalism and filthy fakenews dreck which is For Better Science is made by the clear distinction between who are the real heroes and experts, and who are just nasty toxic trolls.
Editors and other real papermill heroes
“Long story short, we investigated our published papers and then retracted those with data integrity issues. That is it.” – Dr Heather Smith, Editor-in-Chief
So here you have Financial Times (FT), the rich white Anglo-Saxon man’s newspaper of choice, on the topic of papermills, quoting the real heroes of research integrity. It starts with someone called Cheese-bro from Spandidos:
“As part of his job as fraud detector at biomedical publisher Spandidos, John Chesebro trawls through research papers, scrutinising near identical images of cells. For him, the tricks used by “paper mills” — the outfits paid to fabricate scientific studies — have become wearily familiar. […]
Spandidos, based in Athens and London, accepts a large volume of papers from China, with around 90 per cent of its output coming from Chinese authors. In the mid-2010s, independent scientists accused Spandidos of publishing papers with results that recycled the same sets of data. As part of its response to the allegations, the publisher is using a team of in-house fraud detectors to weed out and retract fake research.”
Does it f***. Spandidos embraced papermills like few others, probably because its founder Demetrios Spandidos himself was kicked out of science for research fraud. The ” “independent scientists” who accused this poor innocent business was the evil Smut Clyde:
Spandidos and the Paper Mill
Papermills run by Chinese universities and funding a notorious Greek publisher. Smut Clyde tells it all!
But wait! FT has even better experts!
“Bernhard Sabel, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Otto-von-Guericke University of Magdeburg, is one of many journal editors calling for “swift global action to restore the health of the scientific record and to prevent the erosion of trust in science”.
“Science and ‘true love’ have two things in common: both are infatuated by passion, and both rely on trust,” Sabel says. “If trust is lost, it is very hard to go back.”
Now, Sabel is really a special case. Among the crazy things he did was to rename papermills into “Criminal science publishing gangs“, together with his German colleague seeking (and spectacularly failing) to solve the papermill problem of his pharmacology journal. Read here:
An attractive and “natural” target for fraudsters
“In the various excellent texts on paper mills the question is discussed why Naunyn-Schmiedebergs Archives of Pharmacology has become a target for fake papers. I oppose the assumption that we simply want to fill pages with pseudo-scientific content. We actually look for quality and good science.” – Prof Dr Roland Seifert, Editor-in-Chief
To be fair, not all hope is lost. What a nice surprise:
“One of them is David Bimler, a psychologist formerly at Massey University in New Zealand. He identified 150 biomedical papers from Jilin University that used the same few data sets and concluded that the institution had an internal paper mill. Jilin University was cited by two other experts who spoke to the Financial Times as a top offender for generating fake research. Jilin University did not respond to a request for comment. “They probably never thought that busybodies would start paying attention to their papers, because they didn’t try to hide the mass production very well,” Bimler says. […]
Elisabeth Bik, a microbiologist in California who highlights cases of bad science, was part of a team that examined 20,000 biomedical papers from authors around the world and found that 800 had instances of “inappropriately duplicated images”. “Papers from China had a higher than average chance of containing problematic images,” she says.”
Here is this Jilin story:
The papers are coming from inside the house!
“It feels like half the higher-echelon professors at Jilin University have built their careers on these fairy-tales, with successions of papers itemising the interactions of ADAM10 or GRIM-19. […] if only they had published instead about the Tooth-Fairy circ-RNA and how it targets the Easter-Bunny Pathway…”, – Smut Clyde
The minor detail that David Bimler aka Smut Clyde actually did a bit more than finding those 150 Jilin papers, well, this didn’t pass editorial fact-checking by FT journalists. And now they even kicked of Elisabeth off the list of papermill experts.
Because there isn’t enough place in the sun for Sabel and Spandidos’ Cheese-bro.
No editorial action is required
Elsewhere, editors and publishers bravely battle against papermill fraud.
Tarek Khamis , Amira Ebrahim Alsemeh , Doaa M Abdullah Sacubitril/valsartan (LCZ696) ameliorates hyperthyroid-induced cardiac hypertrophy in male rats through modulation of miR-377, let-7 b, autophagy, and fibrotic signaling pathways Scientific Reports (2022) doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-18860-y
On 24 March 2023, the whistleblower was informed by Thomas Tischer, associate editor at Scientific Reports:
“Thank you very much for flagging your concerns to us.
We have looked into the concerns raised, discussed these further with the authors, and evaluated original high resolution images. At this point we are not convinced that there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations and concluded that no editorial action is required.“
I asked whether there was a new rule at Springer Nature that image overlap must reach a certain percentage before an action is required, but received no reply.
This error does neither impact
Finally, a retraction of a retraction.
Zhejun Cai , Ye Ding , Miao Zhang , Qiulun Lu , Shengnan Wu , Huaiping Zhu , Ping Song , Ming-Hui Zou Ablation of Adenosine Monophosphate-Activated Protein Kinase α1 in Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells Promotes Diet-Induced Atherosclerotic Calcification In Vivo Circulation Research (2016) doi: 10.1161/circresaha.116.308301
On 13 October 2022, a Retraction was issued:
“The editors received a request from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center to retract the above referenced article due to data irregularities and image reuse in Figure 3 that affect the results and conclusions reported in the manuscript. Specifically, the following irregularities were found:
In Figure 3D, the top left panel immunohistochemistry image labeled “ApoE–/– with “Runx2” staining was reused in Figure 4A, bottom left panel immunohistochemistry image labeled “ApoE–/–/AMPKα1f/f” with “Runx2” staining.
The editors are retracting this article in agreement with the University of Oklahoma.
The authors do not agree to the retraction.”
In 2020, Retraction Watch reported that Ming-Hui Zou, associate vice president for research at Georgia State University, had already sustained 10 retractions, nine at Journal of Biological Chemistry and one in PLOS One. The current count is 17 retractions. Zhu has more papers flagged on PubPeer for data manipulation. Here some examples for those NOT retracted:
In March 2023, a Retraction of the Retraction was issued for the Circulation Research paper:
“In October 2022, the following Circulation Research article was retracted based on a request by the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center due to data irregularities and image reuse in Figure 3 […]
Based on new information brought forward by Dr. Zhejun Cai, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center revised its recommendation for the above article to correction instead of retraction.
The editors are retracting this Retraction Notice in agreement with the University of Oklahoma. A separate Correction Notice has been published to update and correct Figure 3 in the original article.”
You see, in scholarly publishing nothing is shamful or unethical. The promised Correction appeared on 22 March 2023:
“Figure 3D, top left panel immunohistochemistry image labeled “ApoE-/-” with “Runx2” staining was mistakenly reused in Figure 4A, bottom left panel immunohistochemistry image labeled “ApoE-/-/AMPKα1f/f” with “Runx2” staining. This error does neither impact the main findings nor the main conclusion of this study.”
Now, the extra irony is: it seems Zou owns a papermill! Thing is, data from his own fraudulent papers was later recycled in papers from China, as Elisabeth Bik found out. Like here:
Shuangxi Wang, Miao Zhang , Bin Liang , Jian Xu , Zhonglin Xie , Chao Liu , Benoit Viollet, Daoguang Yan , Ming-Hui Zou AMPKalpha2 deletion causes aberrant expression and activation of NAD(P)H oxidase and consequent endothelial dysfunction in vivo: role of 26S proteasomes Circulation Research (2010) doi: 10.1161/circresaha.109.212530
Now, it is of course possible Zou is not the owner, but the hapless victim of a Chinese papermill. It is also possible, but also very unlikely, that Santa Clause exists and pigs do fly.
It is also not at all sure if Zou still works at Georgia State University – his profile page was deleted some time in 2021. Zou’s use to the university would indeed be limited – too many retractions, even if he managed to reverse one.
Linking Iran and Germany
Meet an Iranian neuroscience professor in Germany, Ali Gorji, Director of Epilepsy Research Center at the University of Münster.
It seems he was so driven by his desire to advance science in his home country that he placed himself as last and corresponding author onto some very problematic papers.
Let’s start with this one, because its co-author Sven Meuth is the former Dean of the medical school in Münster (i.e., Gorji’s boss), now clinic director at the University of Düsseldorf. Meuth also proudly informs us that he carries a honorary doctorate from the Mashhad University of Medical Sciences in Iran. How did he get it? Meuth refused talking to me.
Ali Jahanbazi Jahan-Abad , Leila Alizadeh , Sajad Sahab Negah , Parastoo Barati , Maryam Khaleghi Ghadiri , Sven G. Meuth , Stjepana Kovac , Ali Gorji Apoptosis Following Cortical Spreading Depression in Juvenile Rats Molecular Neurobiology (2017) doi: 10.1007/s12035-017-0642-z
The authors who must have done the experiments all work at the Khatam Alanbia Hospital in Teheran. Actually, I do know when and how Meuth became Dr h.c. in Teheran. From this trip of 15 Münster neuroscientists to Mashhad University in 2017:
On that trip, some headscarf-cloaked German visitors noticed:
Right-ho. Now go tell your feminist truths to the dead protesters.
Another paper, from same Khatam Alanbia hospital, with Gorji as last author and co-authored by Meuth and their Münster colleague Stjepana Kovac (who works in Hundehege’s team, was member of that Iran expedition, and now proved unreachable):
Amir Ghaemi , Leila Alizadeh , Shahnaz Babaei , Maryam Jafarian , Maryam Khaleghi Ghadiri , Sven G Meuth , Stjepana Kovac , Ali Gorji Astrocyte-mediated inflammation in cortical spreading depression Cephalalgia (2018) doi: 10.1177/0333102417702132
Kovac probably also resents this likely gift authorship from Khatam Alanbia colleagues:
Fariba Karimzadeh , Sayed Mostafa Modarres Mousavi , Fatemeh Alipour , Hassan Hosseini Ravandi , Stjepana Kovac , Ali Gorji Developmental changes in Notch1 and NLE1 expression in a genetic model of absence epilepsy Brain Structure and Function (2017) doi: 10.1007/s00429-017-1371-9
The next one was done by people at Shiraz University in Shiraz, supervised by others at Khatam Alanbia in Teheran and Gorji in Münster. It’s really bad, what luck for Meuth not to be on it:
Sajad Sahab Negah , Zabihollah Khaksar , Hadi Aligholi , Shahin Mohammad Sadeghi , Sayed Mostafa Modarres Mousavi , Hadi Kazemi , Ali Jahanbazi Jahan-Abad , Ali Gorji Enhancement of Neural Stem Cell Survival, Proliferation, Migration, and Differentiation in a Novel Self-Assembly Peptide Nanofibber Scaffold Molecular Neurobiology (2017) doi: 10.1007/s12035-016-0295-3
What a pity for Prof Dr Dr Dr h.c (Mashhad Univ) Meuth to have missed authorship on that one:
Fariba Karimzadeh , Sayed Mostafa Modarres Mousavi , Tahereh Ghadiri , Maryam Jafarian , Mansoureh Soleimani , Shahin Mohammad Sadeghi , Masoud Mesgari , Mohammad-Taghi Joghataei , Ali Gorji The Modulatory Effect of Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor Type-1α on Spike-Wave Discharges in WAG/Rij Rats Molecular Neurobiology (2017) doi: 10.1007/s12035-016-9692-x
Here the most recent one on PubPeer, finally with the Mashhad University:
Sajad Sahab Negah , Mohammad Moein Shirzad , Ghazale Biglari , Farzin Naseri , Hassan Hosseini Ravandi , Ali Hassani Dooghabadi , Ali Gorji Transplantation of R-GSIK scaffold with mesenchymal stem cells improves neuroinflammation in a traumatic brain injury model Cell and Tissue Research (2020) doi: 10.1007/s00441-020-03247-0
I wrote to Gorji, and he replied:
To conclude the gallery tour, two Iranian papers with Gorji as penultimate author. One was made at the Tehran University of Medical Sciences (with Gorji as co-corresponding author) and another is from Golestan University of Medical Sciences.
I was puzzled how the Germany-based Gorji managed to qualify as corresponding author (i.e, principal investigator, main supervisor and lab head) for research done (or rather fabricated) in Iran, in several geographically separate research institutions no less.
He explained in two emails:
“I was born in Iran and during my visit to my parents, I understand the difficulties for young scientists in their research. As a reporter, you may also know the problems of these young people in developing countries. Therefore, I regularly help them with different projects within the last few years.
I regularly visit the lab there (each year 3-4 times) and check the experiments/data personally. In addition, we have several meetings online to discuss the experiments/data each month.“
This is confusing. Does Gorji travel the Iranian universities to check his teams’ lab books while visiting his parents? I asked him if his Iran stints are private vacations or work appointments paid by the University of Münster. He didn’t reply to that.
Gorji’s last message to me contained nothing but this link. It was his letter published in Science in 2009:
Ali Gorji Defending Freedom in Iran’s Universities Science (2009) DOI: 10.1126/science.326_521a
“On 15 June 2009, riot police and militia attacked the University of Tehran student dormitory, causing extensive damage, injuring 150 students, and killing at least one. This was just the latest example of brutal repression by the governments in power as a response to civil rights activism at Iranian universities. […]
Iranian student and academic movements have been pessimistic as to the support they might hope for from Western colleagues. Western universities and international scholarly societies should grasp the opportunity to rebuild trust with their Iranian colleagues by expressing their solidarity and support for Iran’s universities and condemning the government’s violence against them. However, nothing is more important in the days and weeks ahead than for Western governments to refuse to recognize conservative and fundamentalist Ahmadinejad as the next president of Iran.”
Nice years later, Gorji and Meuth were naively befriending an agent of Iranian terror regime in Germany who poses as cultural attaché:
As we all know, repressions at Iranian universities never stopped and even escalated in recent months due to student protests, despite all these enlightening collaborations with Western academia. And the Münster University’s support for the regime-loyal Iranian professors resulted in what looks like research fraud. Even if Gorji disagrees.
Oh, and by the way. For those who still want collaboration via science: Iranian government minister of research and education Mohammad Ali Zolfigol, responsible for the beatings, torture and murders of Iranian students, is also a research fraudster who gets authorships from papermills. Read here:
You will be paid US $500-800 for each paper
“Or The author can also put your name to the article to increase your academic popularity, such as adding your name to the second or third author.”
Science is never political!
We remain on the topic of So What It’s a Murderous Terror State, Science is ALWAYS Outside of Politics.
The Insider, russian dissident media in Latvian exile, reports in an English-language article:
“The Russian science community has suffered greatly due to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Scientific ties have been severed, talented scientists are leaving the country, and academic freedom is disappearing from institutions. However, there are those within the academic world who remain loyal to the state and are taking advantage of the situation to further their own interests. These individuals include young graduate students, professors, and entire institutes within the Russian Academy of Sciences who are seeking to justify the attack on Ukraine and studying those who do not support military aggression. The Insider has investigated academic journals published during wartime and found links to Maria Zakharova’s Facebook, Pikabu posts, and other pro-war public internet resources. “
Boycott Russian Science (and Everything Else) – Thoughts on War in Ukraine
The state it’s in, we don’t need Russian science anyway.
Some examples on “russophobia” (i.e., refusal to submit yourself to russia’s tyranny):
“After the start of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, a staggering barrage of Russophobia from Western countries fell upon our country,” states a group of authors from the Philosophy Department of the Ural State Agrarian University with surprise. They do not understand the reason for such a reaction from foreigners.
Alexei Ilyin of the Omsk State Pedagogical University also finds the reaction of the West strange:
Of course russia is full of academic experts who know exactly that it is the others who are Nazis and fascists:
“Vladimir Kiknadze, a doctor of history, raises the question of why the new Ukrainian government has abandoned historically established norms of life and become intolerant of the will and religion of residents in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. In his article “Ukrainian nationalism: from origins to denazification during the special military operation of the Russian army” published in the “Science. Society. Defense” VAK journal, he also questions the glorification of fascists Bandera, Shukhevich, and their followers by the Ukrainian authorities.
The historian’s conclusion is obvious:
The book “Networked Solidarity as a Response to Collective Trauma (The Case of Russia’s Special Military Operation in Ukraine)” by Natalia Zimova and Yegor Fomin of the Lomonosov Moscow State University’s Graduate School of Modern Social Sciences references sources with titles like “Donbass is the Heart of Russia!”, “THE TEAM FOR V.V. PUTIN AND RUSSIA!”, “Polite People – Peacekeepers – Special Operation Z”.
Other russian scholars write academic treatises on how to most efficiently brainwash people and tyrannise the dissidents. And Yana Vasilyeva, department head at the Irkutsk Law Institute, writes in an academic journal:
Nothing special, just distinguished russian scholars openly calling for the physical extermination of the Ukrainian people. In peer-reviewed literature even.
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.
But for those in western academia who will object to my russophobia and declare, so what, natural sciences are both apolitical and still going strong in russia – here is another report by The Insider (Google-translated):
“Director of the Vavilov Institute of General Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Kudryavtsev said with reference to a certain “graph from the Internet” that people used to live for 900 years, but then life expectancy was reduced due to “original sin”. He made a presentation at the plenary session of the III International Scientific and Theological Conference “God – Man – World” in mid-March, the media paid attention to the record only now.
According to Kudryavtsev, people began to live less after the Flood.
The director of the Institute of Genetics explained all genetic mutations that cause human diseases as “original sin.” According to him, both ancestral sin and original and personal sin work. At the same time, children are responsible for the sin of their father with their illnesses up to the seventh generation.
Kudryavtsev also commented on Russia’s war against Ukraine, saying that the world wants to take over the resources of the Russian Federation, so the country will defend itself “by military means.”
Prepare to work hard and expect to learn a lot!
You are about to meet a family magnitudes creepier than the Addams.
Let’s start with this IEEE conference proceedings paper.
Felix Zhan , Yuria Mann , Nicholas Lower , Haemin Choi Healthcare Yelp: Health Care Services Prediction 2020 10th Annual Computing and Communication Workshop and Conference (CCWC) (2020) doi: 10.1109/ccwc47524.2020.9031152
The first author Felix Zhan was in 2020 a high school student “with the Ed W. Clark High School, Las Vegas, NV, USA”, now he studies at Stanford. And this is what made his paper special – mass citations, almost 200 of them, to a certain Justin Zhan:
Same citation situation here, another IEEE conference paper by the high-schooler Felix Zhan with almost 200 references to Justin Zhan:
Nicholas Lower , Felix Zhan A Study of Ensemble Methods for Cyber Security 2020 10th Annual Computing and Communication Workshop and Conference (CCWC) (2020) doi: 10.1109/ccwc47524.2020.9031256
This certain Justin Zhan was also speaker at these conferences. He is Head of Department of Computer Science, College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Cincinnati, a bigwig inside IEEE, and used to work at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas when Felix went to school. Justin Zhan is of course Felix’ father.
There is also a young lady named Tiffany Zhan. She is Felix’ sister of course. On the photo is little Tiffany as middle-school prodigy in 2017:
Here is her 2020 IEEE conference paper co-authored with her brother and her Daddy, citing brother and Daddy:
Tiffany Zhan , Sarah Deniz , Adrian , Ng , Patricio Gonzalez , Ivy Whaley , Dennis Garcia , Sam Vinh , Jeremy Eddy , Felix Zhan , Vince Choi , Justin Zhan Using Convolutional Neural Networks to Analyze X-Ray Radiographs for Multi-Label Classifications of Thoracic Diseases 2020 10th Annual Computing and Communication Workshop and Conference (CCWC) (2020) doi: 10.1109/ccwc47524.2020.9031208
There is so much more of Justin, Felix and Tiffany on PubPeer, currently 21 IEEE “peer reviewed” conference papers with such bizarre citation patterns. Here is a nice one, “provided by the Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP) and the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program“, the NSF version contains 21 more self-citations than the published one (which already has around a hundred!).
Ferdos Fessahaye , Luis Perez , Tiffany Zhan , Raymond Zhang , Calais Fossier , Robyn Markarian , Carter Chiu , Justin Zhan , Laxmi Gewali , Paul Oh T-RECSYS: A Novel Music Recommendation System Using Deep Learning 2019 IEEE International Conference on Consumer Electronics (ICCE) (2019) doi: 10.1109/icce.2019.8662028
It declares in the Introduction:
You will probably now ask: what is Mommy doing for work? Well, Jinfeng “Kathy” Sun, Justin’s wife and mother of Felix and Tiffany, is the President of Academy of Science and Engineering (ASE) in Las Vegas! It’s not really an academy, but apparently a predatory scamference organiser:
The family also owns a “Tutoring Academy” business: Felix and Tiffany both are simultaneously presidents, treasurers and secretaries, their mom Kathy is director.
9th grade high school student Felix Zhan gives advice: “Prepare to work hard and expect to learn a lot!” And: “I also wrote several research papers, ranging from topics in social media networking to verifying signatures and checking for fraud.”
The Society of Rage
The German Research Council (DFG) found the sociology professor Cornelia Koppetsch guilty of scientific misconduct, and gave her a written reprimand and three-year funding ban for grant applications.
From the press release from 28 March 2023 (via Google Translate):
“The sociologist Koppetsch, who works at the TU Darmstadt, was accused of copying extensive text passages in the manuscript “The Spirit of Reaction. New right-wing parties in global modernity” from 2018, which she attached in full to a funding application to the DFG at the end of 2018 and identified as project-specific preliminary work on her planned project that was in the process of being published. The manuscript was published in 2019 with slight changes as the monograph “The society of rage: Right-wing populism in the global age”, which itself did not result from DFG funding.
Against this background, the DFG Head Office initiated a procedure to review the allegations made. At the same time, further allegations of plagiarism against Koppetsch in works that have not been funded by the DFG have been repeatedly discussed publicly since 2019. For example, two investigations were carried out at the TU Darmstadt on the occasion of various publications by Koppetsch, which led to the detection of plagiarism in various works and to the implementation of two disciplinary proceedings.”
It seems, TU Darmstadt is unable to sack Koppetsch, so she remains professor. But there is so much more to this story.
Note that Koppetsch is named, although DFG generally never names the scientists it finds guilty of research misconduct. Not even their place of work or their exact field of research, to avoid identification.
Maybe the DFG openness was due to the fact that the Koppetsch affair was uncovered by mainstream media in 2019, in particular by FAZ. She was about to receive the Bavarian Book Award for The Society of Rage, but because of plagiarism charges, the nomination was pulled during the ceremony in front of Koppetsch’s face, the plagiarised book itself was then completely withdrawn from print by the publisher. Still, the fraudster professor was always named in the media, which again is very unusual for German journalism. So why is her identity public?
Possibly because of her choice of boyfriend. Koppetsch, who wrote expert treatises about the German xenophobic far-right pro-russian party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), is the girlfriend of the AfD politician Kai Borrmann, who was recently sentenced in a court in Berlin for attacking two Black women in 2021 (translated):
“…he repeatedly insulted the music journalist Steph Karl and her friend with the N-word – even after they had fled the pub. Borrmann then continued to insult her on the street. Even after Karl burst into tears, he yelled, “N****! Cry, you N****”, and brought his face very close to the person concerned to repeat the N-word, as the judge described. […]
Then Borrmann struck and put Karl in a headlock, whereupon Karl’s girlfriend intervened and brought both of them down. In the subsequent wrestling on the ground, Karl once again put Borrmann in a headlock. He then bit her upper arm hard.”
Borrmann of course doesn’t have to go to prison, only to pay a fine he sure can easily afford. Maybe the mild sentence is due to the fact that Koppetsch, Professor for Gender Relations (sic!), was present during the attack and submitted her expert testimony to court in defence of her charming boyfriend. She even thanked Borrmann (without naming him) in her plagiarised book The Society of Rage, but in 2019 her lawyers prevented this information from being published. The book is about the AfD of course.
Eventually, even the most ruthless and expensive AfD lawyers couldn’t save Koppetsch from public shaming. They did try their best though.
Toronto Star brought on 24 March 2023 a long article about the whistleblower Nancy Olivieri who found out that Toronto university hospitals still treat patients with the dangerous drug deferiprone because they receive money from the manufacturing company Apotex.
“Decades earlier, when she was just starting her career
at a major nearby hospital, she had been one of the first scientists to test the drug on patients with thalassemia, a hereditary blood disease that can be life-threatening.
The trial came crashing down in the mid-’90s when Olivieri’s research led her to doubt the efficacy and safety of the medication. She went public with her concerns. The drugmaker, Apotex, tried to muzzle her. The hospital where she worked at the time demoted her and referred unfounded concerns about her to Ontario’s medical watchdog. She was pushed to the margins and ostracized”
I previously wrote about Olivieri’s fight against this and other crimes committed by former University of Toronto (U of T) professor Gideon Koren.
Motherisk crook Gideon Koren now at Ariel University
The Israeli Ariel University recruited a doctor from hell to their newly established medical school: Gideon Koren, infamous for Motherisk and deferiprone scandals.
“Olivieri didn’t back down in her first fight over deferiprone, and she wasn’t going to back down now. She brought her concerns to officials at University Health Network (UHN), a collection of Toronto hospitals that includes Toronto General. They did not stop the use of the unlicensed drug. So, Olivieri went to the patients’ medical records.
What she found alarmed her. In some cases, she said, patients were kept on deferiprone despite clear warning signs or documented past problems with the medication. With her longtime colleague and ally Dr. Brenda Gallie, she found
most of the 41 patients whose records she had approval to examine suffered “significant toxicity,” including diabetes and liver dysfunction. A woman in her 30s died in 2013, “presumably of cardiac failure,” 13 months after being placed
on the drug in combination with a low dose of an approved medication.For 14 years, Olivieri has continued digging. She uncovered that the hospital clinic giving the unlicensed drug to patients was receiving money from Apotex.
She also found that an internal UHN review of the care thalassemia patients received – which concluded the clinic’s use of the unlicensed drug was “justified” – overlooked what she considered to be important evidence and had discomforting ties to the drug’s maker.”
The Toronto Sun article tells the story of Olivieri’s decades-long fight for patient safety against U of T and their hospital SickKids, also Koren features in the long read, yet unnamed (probably for fear lawsuits). Olivieri was punished, ostracized and demoted, even publicly slandered, but she never gave up. UHN meanwhile conspired with Apotex to poison patients:
“By 2009, many thalassemia patients no longer relied on nightly injections to remove excess iron. A few years earlier, the Swiss company Novartis got approval for deferasirox, a tablet that could be dissolved in water and taken orally. It had become standard therapy – a safe and effective first-line treatment.
Although it can cause stomach upset, Olivieri said that with some trial-and-error around dosing, most patients can tolerate the drug.
Longtime UHN patient Alexa Virani, 49, said she was taken aback when, shortly after the leadership shakeup in the thalassemia clinic, in around 2010, Ward asked her if she wanted to switch from the approved oral treatment to
This was the not exhaustive list of what UHN received from Apotex:
“In 2011, Apotex gave an $80,000 unrestricted grant to UHN’s thalassemia clinic, according to internal records Olivieri obtained through FOI, and shared with the Star. […]
The company and its founder, the late Barry Sherman and his wife Honey, donated more than $3 million to UHN’s foundations since 1985, according to the hospital, and more than $12 million to the UHN-affiliated U of T”
This is how UHN now dealt with the new evidence gathered by Olivieri and her colleague:
“Olivieri and Gallie had expected the review would dig into their findings on patient harms, including death. They believed the reviewers should examine their analyses of the hospital records alongside the justification that doctors provided to Health Canada to access unlicensed deferiprone.
Those things didn’t happen.
Over several weeks, reviewers met for a total of 2.5 days and did not review the materials the two researchers left for them.”
As I learned, the Toronto Sun article was supposed to appear in early 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Maybe the newspaper editors didn’t want to publish anything critical of medical institutions and their leadership back then.
There is a theory (mine) that bullying and research fraud always go hand in hand. Generally, I mean this metaphorically, but in the case of the MD Anderson’s biotech spin-off Codiak Biosciences its two founders, the research cheater Raghu Kalluri and psychopathic bully Eric Lander almost literally went hand in hand! You can read about Lander’s bullying here (he had to resign as Biden’s science advisor), and about Kalluri’s fake science (and about Codiak) here:
Melo and Kalluri defend discredited Nature paper with preprint, where they admit data “adjustments”
Sonia Melo, the Portuguese cheater scientist and her former US-boss Raghu Kalluri issued some days ago a biorxive preprint, which sole purpose is to defend their discredited Nature paper from 2015. There, they originally claimed to have found a unique biomarker for early pancreatic cancer, a much hailed promise to save lives of many cancer…
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…
Imagine how sad I was to read what Reuters reported on 27 March 2023:
“Codiak BioSciences Inc (CDAK.O) said on Monday it has filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection in the latest blow to the struggling drug developer’s ambitions of making a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing ends months of investor uncertainty after the company, which has been facing a cash crunch, raised going concern doubts and cut its workforce by 37% last year.
The company said on Monday it will cut an additional 34 jobs, bringing its total number of employees to 19, and expects to incur severance-related costs of about $1.1 million.
Codiak previously said it would prioritize its COVID-19 vaccine development program that was funded by a global vaccine coalition, while halting development of two cancer drug candidates which were ready for mid-stage study.
The company will also wind down a clinical trial of its drug for a type of bone marrow cancer, according to a filing on Monday. […]
Codiak’s shares fell 63.6% to a record low of 16 cents on Monday. The drug developer had a market cap of $16.21 million as of last close, according to Refinitiv data.”
I am shocked, shocked, to find out that Kalluri’s fake cancer cures failed to cure people despite Lander’s shouting.
News in Tweets
- Athanasios Anastasiadis (University of Patras), Evangelos Papadimitriou and Frithjof Küpper (both University of Aberdeen) jumped the shark. New York Times writes they “reported the discovery of what they said was a goblin shark that had washed ashore on a Greek beach. Their announcement of the find last year in the journal Mediterranean Marine Science has led to a series of events almost as bizarre as the goblin shark itself, involving competing scientific narratives, a retraction and the possibility that maybe all of the fuss was over a children’s plastic toy. According to the original scientific paper, the Mediterranean goblin shark was discovered by a man named Giannis Papadakis in August 2020. After finding the specimen, the paper said, Mr. Papadakis propped it on some rocks and snapped a photo. The image ended up in the hands of a group of local scientists, and two years later they published it” Then evidence emerged it was a “plastic goblin shark toy sold by an Italian toy company, DeAgostini“, but “the authors of the original paper doubled down, standing by their original claims […] They also amended their size estimate from about 30 inches to about seven inches and suggested that the goblin shark in question could be an embryo.” The retraction was published on 24.03.2023.
- Frontiers in Human Abuse – Patterson et al 2023: “The studies involving human participants were reviewed and approved by CCTC Ethics and IRB Committee. […] IncellDX holds the patent for the use of CCR5 antagonists (maraviroc) in COVID and long COVID. was employed by IncellDX Inc. BP, RY, PP, JB, EO, DJ, CR, and MK were independent contractors of the CCTC.” It is not the first time Frontiers accepts such self-approved clinical papers from Bruce Patterson (who previously cured AIDS) and his Incel business – read here.
- “Hello, we are a language editing company based in China. Every year, a large number of authors ask us to recommend their articles to suitable journals. So we would like to seek a cooperation with your journal. We would like to ask your journal to publish 70 articles per year for us. We are willing to pay your journal or you personally 100,000 US dollars for these articles, and the publication fee paid by the author will still be collected by your journal. Our only request is that all our submitted manuscripts will be reviewed by us and we have the final decision on whether these manuscripts will be accepted or not. Your manuscript system will open an editor role for us and you will provide us with an email address and password of the editorial department. We ensure that all reviews comply with peer review norms, and we will reject manuscripts that fail peer review, and finally select 70 manuscripts that pass peer review.“
- Retraction notice for Chhabria et al 2022: “The Editors-in-Chief have retracted this article at the corresponding author’s request. After publication, concerns were raised regarding high similarity between the images presented in Fig. 3B, D, E and F, and those previously published by different authors in Fig. 1C of . The authors have been unable to locate the original images, and therefore no longer have confidence in the presented data.” Meanwhile, coauthor is doing business in UK: “Following a radically successful trial on cancer patients, a new blood test that promises to predict tumors more than a year before they begin to form is now being applied in hospitals across the United Kingdom. “This is the first pan-cancer blood test,” said Ashish Tripathi, founder and CEO of Tzar Labs as well as chairman of Epigeneres Biotech, the Indian firm where the test was first developed in 2021.“
- Retraction notice for Xiao et al 2022: “The authors provided the uncropped raw images for Figure 2 A2 and for the Western Blots in figure 4, however, concerns remain regarding splicing of the Western Blots as well as the validity of the original images provided.”
- MDPI elegantly solves another reputational blunder by claiming their crooked editor was merely listed but not acting as editor: “We apologize for the confusion caused by the webpage showing the GE as the handling editor of this MS. The GE of the SI were not involved in the peer review of this manuscript, nor do they have the power to add references in this manner. We are currently investigating this case.“
- Mass retractions at PLOS One:
- Michael Balter‘s thread on peer review: “During my 25 years at Science, I can’t count how many times I asked for comment on a paper I was writing about and heard “I can’t believe that made it past peer review.” […] In editorial meetings @ScienceMagazine editors bargain and lobby and horse trade for their favorite papers: A biology editor would support a physics paper if the physics editor would support a biology paper and so forth. Really.“
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Bad behaviour in the U.K.. The system in the U.K., will react eventually, but only eventually, and only after a young female medical doctor committed suicide. Retirement for the CEO means a big fat pension. That is nice!
“Kind and loving” was not what the management wanted.
Reminds me of the GMC scandal a while ago! An Indian doctor was banned for 6 months, simply for requesting a laptop.
While Justin Stebbing was only banned for 9 months! Apparently requesting a laptop is far worse than research fraud , defrauding and nearly killing terminally ill patients!
Equality and diversity, the British way!
We know about the Zhan family because J. Zhan rather foolishly collaborated on several papers with a Wen-Ran Zhang. Zhang is an outsider logician and History’s Greatest Mathematician / Physicist, who invented a Yin-Yang logic that out-fuzzies Fuzzy Logic.
So frequent PubPeer contributor “Rhipidura” started rattling Zhang’s cage, moved onto J. Zhan, and found the family citation mill.
I took the liberty to report Justin for citation gaming to University of Cincinnati leadership. Either they sanction him, or they send their own kids to his conferences.
I met him through another professor I had and my advisor had passed away and he offered me a research position soon after meeting with them. Immediately I became pressured to write publishable papers at least 1 per semester. He had no technical advice just always repeated that we had to make “fundamental mathematical innovations” and vague stuff like this. After getting a draft and doing a project with zero guidance that I could tell ended up with no worthwhile results he would say we have to submit it for publishing anyway. He set up programs over the summer and pressured me to agree for him to put my name down as a lead and then when time came he reassigned me to something else. He edited my manuscripts to add his 100s of citations without my knowledge or consent and submitted it. When I asked him about it he said it was fine and not to worry. I talked to my research librarian and college dean at the time about it and they refused to help me and told me to stop reaching out to them. He would tell me he was going out of town and then I’d hear that he was speaking at a conference he never mentioned. He would write funding proposals promising improvements of all kinds and also promising to set up summer programs for k-12 students to augment the research and then assign 1 or 2 students with no experience at all to the project.
What redemption is there for the students he misled and used to further his deceitful career? Praying on desperate colleges and their students, even using his own children to improve his citation metrics! I feel like I have ruined my career getting caught up in his scam artistry! I feel so much shame..
Tell us more about your experience with Justin Zhan!
One manuscript I submitted to Dr. Zhan was edited without my knowledge after I sent the final draft. What edits? His son, Felix zhan, was added as an author and over 40 self cites to various papers were added to the literature review in a single sentence in the same manner as the self cites shown above in this article. I found out about the additions when I looked up the published paper in the conference proceedings! I asked him if he knew about what happened and he told me his son made “a lot of changes” so was now an author and it’s nothing to worry about.
Meanwhile, coauthor is doing business in UK:
Alas, I broke my twitterthread about Ashish Tripathi and his Infallible Cancer Test. Second half-thread starts here: