Schneider Shorts

Schneider Shorts 28.04.2023 – Helping young and aspiring people

Schneider Shorts 28.04.2023 - old American papers in need of fixing, young russian and Iranian researchers in need of helping, French whistleblowers in need of punishing, Austrian anti-aging supplements in need of advertising, with an anti-aging pimp on cocaine, depressive fish in China, cured Israeli soldiers, and finally, retractions in full, in part and not at all.

Schneider Shorts of 28 April 2023 – old American papers in need of fixing, young russian and Iranian researchers in need of helping, French whistleblowers in need of punishing, Austrian anti-aging supplements in need of advertising, with an anti-aging pimp on cocaine, depressive fish in China, cured Israeli soldiers, and finally, retractions in full, in part and not at all.

Table of Discontent

Science Elites

Retraction Watchdogging

Science Breakthroughs

News in Tweets

Science Elites

Sins of Youth

In science, like everywhere else, it is best to never have heroes. Another great white American man of science caught with some skeletons in his closet.

The HHMI investigator Stephen Elledge is the “Gregor Mendel Professor of Genetics and of Medicine” at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. His research field is DNA repair and DNA damage signalling, for laypeople: Elledge is curing cancer. Since 2003, he is also member of the US National Academy of Science, where he is quoted:

“I believe that new technology drives science and generally has a much larger impact than individual basic science discoveries.”

Well. In some of his older papers, the new technology driving science was Adobe Photoshop. For example, Elledge co-authored a totally fake paper by David Sabatini and Nathanael Gray, Liu et al Cancer Research 2013. Discussed here:

But we must be fair – such an unlucky co-authorship can happen to anyone. Yet the pseudonymous sleuth Clare Francis recently had a look at papers from Elledge’s own lab, and found things. Elledge eventually replied to me:

“Thank you for pointing these discrepancies out. I am looking into those where the data was from my lab.”

Here, vintage science from his lab:

D M Koepp , L K Schaefer , X Ye , K Keyomarsi , C Chu , J W Harper , S J Elledge Phosphorylation-dependent ubiquitination of cyclin E by the SCFFbw7 ubiquitin ligase Science (2001) doi: 10.1126/science.1065203 

The first author Deanna Koepp is now associate professor at the University of Minnesota.

This one was published at PNAS, to avoid peer review hassle the manuscript was “Contributed by Stephen J. Elledge“, in his privilege as National Academy of Sciences member:

Shiaw-Yih Lin, Rekha Rai , Kaiyi Li , Zhi-Xiang Xu , Stephen J Elledge BRIT1/MCPH1 is a DNA damage responsive protein that regulates the Brca1-Chk1 pathway, implicating checkpoint dysfunction in microcephaly Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2005) doi: 10.1073/pnas.0507722102

If this was an inattentive error of accidental copy-paste, how come the numbers are different?

Steffen Reinbothe: duplications planted on PNAS contributed track

This is a story of a plant scientist in France, Steffen Reinbothe. He and his sister Christiane used to hold academic positions in Germany, but now they both returned to France, to Grenoble. The move might have had to do with a dossier from 2009, made by a former lab member and circulated among peers.…

Elledge lab again, same first author, also contributed to PNAS by Elledge, and this study is much more fraudulent:

Shiaw-Yih Lin , Kaiyi Li , Grant S. Stewart , Stephen J. Elledge Human Claspin works with BRCA1 to both positively and negatively regulate cell proliferation Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2004) doi: 10.1073/pnas.0401847101

Now, a cheater like Shiaw-Yih (Phoebus) Lin, where in USA do you think will he be met with open arms, and his data-fudging skills celebrated?

MD Anderson in Houston, Texas, of course!

Where Lin is now full professor and deputy head of department. Naturally, at MD Anderson Lin felt attracted to the local utter crooks Anil Sood and Gabriel Lopez-Berestein, with a predictably fraudulent result – Park et al 2012, which was fixed in 2019 with an inappropriate and incomplete correction (“the conclusions reported in the article are not affected as duplicated panels are negative controls of experiments.“)

Anil Sood and other questionable stars of MD Anderson

The MD Anderson Cancer Center, part of the University of Texas and located in Houston, is a giant hub of huge cancer research money, even for US standards. They also do a lot of science there, which only purpose seems to be publishing in big journals in order to generate even more money. If there…

Here is Elledge with another bigwig of cancer research field, the Canadian Tak Mak.

Dong Zhang , Kathrin Zaugg , Tak W. Mak , Stephen J. Elledge A role for the deubiquitinating enzyme USP28 in control of the DNA-damage response Cell (2006) doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2006.06.039 

A PubPeer user, referencing Knobel et al. Mol Cell Biol. 2014, noted:

“Most of findings from this paper could not be reproduced by others”

Well, the forged gel figures are a clue to the reasons for insufficient reproducibility. But Dong Zhang is now associate professor at New York Institute of Technology.

More problematic science, with Mak and without. Here flow cytometry plots were copy-pasted:

Kathrin Zaugg , Yu-Wen Su , Patrick T Reilly , Yasmin Moolani , Carol C Cheung , Razquallah Hakem , Atsushi Hirao , Qinghua Liu , Stephen J Elledge , Tak W Mak Cross-talk between Chk1 and Chk2 in double-mutant thymocytes Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2007) doi: 10.1073/pnas.0611584104 
Xin Wang , Lee Zou , Huyong Zheng , Qingyi Wei , Stephen J Elledge , Lei Li Genomic instability and endoreduplication triggered by RAD17 deletion Genes & Development (2003) doi: 10.1101/gad.1065103 

There is another old Elledge lab paper on PubPeer, discussed already in 2015. It’s co-author is MD Anderson’s former President (salary $800k) and pusher of fake science, Ron DePinho.

Thomas F. Westbrook , Eric S. Martin , Michael R. Schlabach , Yumei Leng , Anthony C. Liang , Bin Feng , Jean J. Zhao , Thomas M. Roberts , Gail Mandel , Gregory J. Hannon , Ronald A. Depinho , Lynda Chin , Stephen J. Elledge A genetic screen for candidate tumor suppressors identifies REST Cell (2005) doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2005.03.033 

I am not sure the originally flagged PubPeer allegations are correct, so I won’t reproduce them here. Instead, I found something else. Did you ever wonder why some western blots in older papers are just black bands on white, lacking all background? Well, this Cell paper provides some clues.

I wouldn’t trust these gels. They are most likely digitally manipulated, yet this is difficult to prove conclusively. That’s why the authors removed nearly all of the background signal, to cover up traces. And the paper is too old to ask for raw data. The first author Thomas Westbrook is now professor at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, training the next generations of researchers in the correct way of doing science.

There is nothing irregular, image integrity-wise, in newer papers by Elledge lab. Which can mean two things. Either, sins of youth and lessons learned, or there was institutional trouble before, and measures not to be caught on photoshopped gels again were taken. Which doesn’t necessarily make this elite lab’s science more reliable.

Proper actions

Kostya “Ken” Ostrikov is science superstar. The Ukraine-born physicist is currently professor at Queensland University of Technology in Australia, where he is celebrated for his H-index of 83, and for being “an acknowledged pioneer and leader in the rapidly emerging applied research area of Plasma Nanoscience” and “youngest Doctor of Sciences (D.Sc.) and a full professor in Ukraine (aged 29), 1997.

I wrote to him on 2 April. First of all, in July 2022, several months into russia’s genocidal war against his home country (assisted by Belarus), he submitted for publication a manuscript (Podbolotov et al 2023) where 5 of 6 other co-authors are from russia and Belarus, and even the 6th, Sweden-based co-author, is a Belarus-native.

Plus there was this paper by Ostrikov with 5 Iranian co-authors, decorated with apparently falsified spectra:

Ali Fatemi , Tavakkol Tohidi , Kazem Jamshidi-Galeh, Milad Rasouli, Kostya Ostrikov Optical and structural properties of Sn and Ag-doped PbS/PVA nanocomposites synthesized by chemical bath deposition Scientific Reports (2022) doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-16666-6 

Thallarcha lechrioleuca: “Fig.1 Copy paste fragments

Ostrikov replied to me right away:

“First of all, THANK YOU! For alerting me about the issue with the paper in Sci. Reports and appreciate your views on scientific publications with peer scientists from Russia, Belarus, and Iran.

Let me assure you that I totally condemn the war in Ukraine, and at the very least because my old mother is in Kharkiv and she suffers a lot… I am trying to help my colleagues and friends from Ukraine whichever way I can… I also do not collaborate with institutions or projects in any of these three countries, just to make it clear. I am only trying to help very few young and aspiring people who do not have world-class opportunities for scientific research in their countries and want to build careers internationally, so to say “escape” for a better opportunity.

Both papers you mentioned involve such young people from Iran who aspire to “escape”.  As far as I understand, the paper about ceramics you mentioned involves researchers from other countries, so it is a multi-national publication and small contributions from everyone.  

I and my colleagues have had many students, postdocs from Iran and they developed as advanced and independent researchers no matter where life took them …      

Regarding the paper in Sci. Reports – thank you again for highlighting the issue with the highlighted data.  I have immediately checked the comment and contacted the first and corresponding author to carefully check the XRD spectra highlighted in the comment, and the original data.

I also carefully explained them the proper actions to take to respond to the comment, make corrections if this is just an error (e.g., in data processing, etc.) which does not affect the conclusions of the work, and other important details.

I cannot judge precisely right now because I do not have the necessary information.

Of course, if it turns out that any of the colleagues from Iran did anything wrong with the data, I will take proper actions.  “

I pointed out to Ostrikov that not all of his co-authors, neither Iranian nor russian or Belarusian, are really junior researchers. All have PhD, all are heads of labs and facilities. Kazem Jamshidi-Ghaleh is even professor. They don’t really seem seeking to escape their terrorist home countries, rather to further advance their academic careers there, hence the papers with Ostrikov. Who replied to me:

“Thank you very much for the information. I never communicated with the senior researchers including Professor Jamshidi-Ghaleh you mentioned.”

An interesting way to do a scientific collaboration. Soon after, the young and aspiring young man Milad Rasouli, author of 44 papers (several with Ostrikov), replied on PubPeer:

“We express our gratitude to an anonymous colleague for bringing this matter to our attention. There was an error in the plotting of Figure 1. Specifically, the spectral lines for 0.3 and 0.6 µM Ag and 0.4 and 0.8 µM Sn were plotted incorrectly. We apologize for any confusion or inconvenience that this error may have caused. However, we would like to assure you that this correction does not impact the overall results or conclusions of our study. The authors will contact the editorial team to publish an erratum. “

He also supplied a replacement figure. But my sleuthing colleagues still wanted to know how these peaks got duplicated. So Rasouli explained:

“To detect any minor changes, when the data were being interpreted, the data from the mentioned parts of the graphs were copied to be compared. We plotted this figure multiple times with this approach during the draft preparation. The target was to present any significant changes to the spectra with the additional Ag and Sn. However, when we were preparing the final version of the figure for publication, we inadvertently used the wrong plot used previously for comparisons. The original data have been deposited in the Zenodo database and can be downloaded at”

Orchestes quercus wondered:

Are you really saying that when you compare two curves you do not simply plot them together in a single figure, but instead cut & paste sections of the one curve into the other? And apparently shift & scale such that no steps are apparent. That seems a rather unconventional method…

I still have strong concerns about the veracity of the replacement data you provide in #2. Curves still share identical stretches of noise, just less obvious so as in the published version. Is the author sure he is not cheating a bit?

I’m afraid Rasouli was cheating more than just a bit. But Ostrikov shared with me this:

My understanding is that the proposed Erratum will contain not only the revised figure, but also the original data which the community could access and analyze.  Why would anyone publish the revised data if there is something wrong with it, and especially if they know that it will be openly accessible?

I understand that the corresponding author will discuss the proposed corrections with the Editor and the most appropriate action (e.g., Erratum or some other way of correction) will be found. I heard that they disagree with the recent comment (both scientifically and the comments involving behavioural presumptions) and are very confident to publish the corrected data.

Well. Ostrikov is supposed to be an expert in this field. If fake spectra in the figure AND in the “original data” don’t change the scientific conclusions for him, what does? How does he run his own science then?

Actually, sometimes sloppy work even happens in Ostrikov’s Australian lab.

Peiyu Wang , Rusen Zhou , Renwu Zhou, Nina Recek , Karthika Prasad , Robert Speight , Derek Richard , Patrick J. Cullen , Erik W. Thompson , Kostya Ken Ostrikov, Kateryna Bazaka Chemo-Radiative Stress of Plasma as a Modulator of Charge-Dependent Nanodiamond Cytotoxicity ACS Applied Bio Materials (2020) doi: 10.1021/acsabm.0c01000

The images from two different papers present exactly the same yeast cells, only slightly blurred in the newer publication.”
2018: Improved fermentation efficiency of S. cerevisiae by changing glycolytic metabolic pathways with plasma agitation; Figure 2; DOI:

A Correction was issued just days later:

“A permission to reproduce was missing in the legend of Figure 2. This change does not affect any results or conclusions of this paper.”

Ostrikov also wrote this to me:

Maybe we could continue our interactions in the future in some other areas such as helping rebuild Ukrainian science, science communication or something like that? “

I don’t know, I think I’ll pass on this offer. I would rather collaborate with someone who is able to distinguish fraudulent trash science from innocent mistakes in his own research field. And in his own papers. Otherwise I can work with Victor Dosenko or Taras Kavetskyy on rebuilding Ukrainian science 😉

Taras Persidskyy and Arik of Negev, Shahed Hunters

“He has embarked on a path of unacceptable slander, not only against me, but also against my colleagues (Prof. Oleg Smutok, Prof. Arnold Kiv, Prof. Vladimir Solovyov). We have all the necessary evidence to bring Leonid Schneider to justice for slander and moral turpitude.” – Taras Kavetskyy.

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. “

Charges for ethical and deontological breaches

In France, things are the usual.

There is however some progress in the Jolanda Spadavecchia case. As brief reminder, this biomedical nanotechnologist was exposed as a total and complete cheater by the whistleblower Raphael Levy, who is now also in Paris. Spadavecchia has a PubPeer record of over 30 fake papers, even her employer CNRS had to grudgingly admit there were problems in those. 3 papers were already retracted, one of them then re-published in a predatory journal. To celebrate all this, CNRS declared Spadavecchia totally innocent of any suspicions of research misconduct, and when Dorothy Bishop complained in a public open letter, two alpha males, CNRS president Antoine Petit and CNRS research integrity manager Remy Mosseri, did not budge but instead arrogantly tried to bully Bishop into retracting her open letter.

Here some examples of fake science by Spadavecchia, which has all the qualities of papermill fraud:

Celia Arib , Hui Liu , Qiqian Liu , Anne-Marie Cieutat , Didier Paleni , Xiaowu Li , Jolanda Spadavecchia Flavin Adenine Dinucleotide (FAD) Pegylated (PEG)-Complexes: Proof of Concept (PoC) of theranostic tool on a Murine Breast Cancer Model Nanotheranostics (2022) doi: 10.7150/ntno.63496 

Elisabeth Bik:

  • The Figure is labeled “Fig.S1. Representative images of tumour and spleen.” But it appears only spleens are shown? Where are the tumors?
  • As in a previous paper from the same group, doi: 10.7150/ntno.59290, the spleens appear to have been arranged in a collage, perhaps from individual photos. They do not have any shadow, and appear to float above a green, homogenous background. Do the authors still have the individual photos to share, please?
  • Pink boxes: One of the PEG spleens looks remarkably similar to one of the NP1-IG spleens.

Or here, where image irregularity suggest that the images were ripped off somebody else’s papers, their original labels removed:

Céline Falentin-Daudré, Jean-Sebastien Baumann, Véronique Migonney, Jolanda Spadavecchia Highly crystalline sphere and rod-shaped TiO 2 nanoparticles: A facile route to bio-polymer grafting Frontiers in Laboratory Medicine (2017) doi: 10.1016/j.flm.2017.12.003

Gonodonta sinaldus: “It appears some details have been obscured by rectangles in Figure 1A

So what is news, you ask? Well, France being France, the administrative process is working at full speed. The goal is to sentence the nasty, science-poisoning perpetrator guilty of research fraud and push this monster out of science.

No, not Spadavecchia of course. This is France after all, so CNRS and Université Sorbonne Paris Nord are busy trying to destroy Levy.

David Larousserie reports in Le Monde (Google-translated):

“At the same time, Raphaël Lévy battles. On April 17, 2022, he was cleared by the university of a charge of plagiarism. In two master’s reports of his students, identical curves had been identified. The university took months, using an outside expert, to discover that the students were in the same group and had done the same experiments… And the administrative investigation is not making progress on the rumours of moral harassment that have been circulating for more than a year against the professor, who had already rejected them in December in Le Monde.

The researcher is also facing charges for ethical and deontological breaches, currently being examined by the Ethics College of the Ministry of Research, which inherited the file, due to tensions between the professor and the RIS of the university. The sages will not decide before June 3. A long-awaited decision to know what it is allowed to do to alert on breaches of scientific integrity.

Raphaël Lévy’s lawyer, Avi Bitton, also intends to highlight the “retaliations” to which his client was subjected, such as a change of assignment or the refusals that he participate in various university bodies, when he should benefit measures to protect whistleblowers, reinforced by a law of March 21, 2022.”

As reminder, some years ago CNRS and the French Academie des Sciences led a signature campaign to have the Le Monde journalist Larousserie burned at stake, or at least sacked.

Jessus critics defiant, reactionary cock-up and Chicken of Dishonour Legion

As Le Monde brought into public light the Catherine Jessus affair with its whitewashed data manipulation and the growing academic protest, a counter-revolution put its foot in. A signature list in the worst Stalinist tradition was published, organised by the very elite of French academia (mostly members of Academie de Sciences), and signed by hundreds,…

50 Shades of de Grey

In August 2021, Aubrey de Grey, the bizarre anti-aging guru was placed on leave by the organisation he personally founded, the SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) Research Foundation. The reason was massive sexual harassment, physical sexual abuse, and de Grey’s attempts to pimp young female SENS employees to wealthy donors for sex. The victims stories are available here and here, quote:

“SENS funded much of my undergraduate and graduate work, and as such I was often paraded in front of their donors. The role of my attractiveness in discussions with donors (almost always older men) was made explicit by SENS executives.
At one such dinner, I was sat next to Aubrey by a SENS executive. I was told to keep him ‘entertained’; Aubrey funneled me alcohol and hit on me the entire night. He told me that I was a ‘glorious woman’ and that as a glorious woman I had a responsibility to have sex with the SENS donors in attendance so they would give money to him.”

According to the victims, de Grey wasn’t the only perpetrator: the practice of sexual harassment and it cover up was normal at SENS Foundation.

Now, a year ago, in March 2022, the SENS Research Foundation Board issued this public statement:

“In August 2021, the SENS Research Foundation Board of Trustees separated from Dr. Aubrey de Grey, our Co-Founder and then-Chief Science Officer. This was a difficult decision, but, as we said at the time, a necessary one.

In doing so, we wholeheartedly acknowledged that we are an organization that is, and always will be, shaped by Dr. de Grey’s vision for transformation within the longevity field. In that spirit, in December 2021, we began a cautious, but important process of re-unifying with Dr. de Grey – a process aimed at helping both Dr. de Grey and the Board move forward from a difficult and contentious period and refocus our collective efforts on bolstering research that can permanently cure the effects of aging. Dr. de Grey would rejoin the Foundation as a consultant with a pathway toward a full and proper re-integration. Such an arrangement was to be made cautiously, with an eye toward our shared mission, and free from public spectacle.

We regret to report that, effective immediately, Dr. de Grey will no longer be consulting with SRF.

It’s important to note that, as with our previous separation, this is not related to the findings of last year’s independent investigation. While those investigations did substantiate instances of poor judgment and boundary-crossing behaviors, Dr. de Grey is not a sexual predator. Rather, the termination of Dr. de Grey’s consultancy with the Foundation is entirely due to his unwillingness to comply with even the most basic conditions of the agreements he signed with advice from his counsel. In the spirit of transparency, you can access the signed contract here: LINK

The published agreement mentions that de Grey was offered $10k per month for his consulting, provided he submits himself to a regular “substance abuse evaluation“, enters a rehab therapy, and joins “chemical dependency meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous on a regular basis“.

Basically, SENS Foundation made clear they have absolutely no problem with de Gray’s attempts at rape and pimping, because it is his privilege as a powerful white man. But de Gray’s excessive and uncontrollable drug abuse was a problem which led to his sacking. Maybe in his opioid-induced rage he kept acting violently towards his fellow board members? Maybe this cocaine addict stabbed someone important with a pen after signing the agreement?

All this anti-aging “research” is at the end about nothing else but “rejuvenation” of old powerful man using young women as a) sex objects, and b) vampire-style, as blood donors. Probably simultaneously. That is in fact exactly what de Grey and his SENS Foundation preach.

Bleed’em while they’re young

“There’s still a long way to go – blood is complicated. But there are many excellent labs focused on this, so I am optimistic about progress.” – Aubrey de Grey.

The scientific advisory board of SENS Foundation includes of course the MIT eugenicist and Colossal Wanker George Church, the alleged role models for WomenInSTEM and anti-aging entrepreneurs Judith Campisi, Irina Conboy and Maria Blasco (presumably, de Grey and other SENS execs never tried to rape them, so all fine), other regenerative medicine researchers, including Macchiarini’s counterpart in US, Anthony Atala.

Speaking of. Here is the kind of regenerative medicine SENS is interested in. From 2011:

Retraction Watchdogging

A degradation product

Sixth retraction for the Nobel prize laureate and Johns Hopkins University professor Gregg Semenza. Fifth following my reporting, and this recent one joins the other for in PNAS, again for a paper Semenza “contributed” to bypass proper peer review.

Blame Clare Francis and yours truly if you like.

This is the newly retracted paper:

KangAe Lee, Huafeng Zhang, David Z Qian, Sergio Rey, Jun O Liu, Gregg L Semenza Acriflavine inhibits HIF-1 dimerization, tumor growth, and vascularization Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2009) doi: 10.1073/pnas.0909353106

The retraction notice appeared on 26 April 2023:

“The undersigned authors note, “We are retracting this article due to issues regarding the bottom panel of Figure 2D. Visible in this blot are the GST-HIF-1β band of interest at the top, a faint doublet in the middle, and a strong band migrating just above GST at the bottom, which is likely a degradation product of GST-HIF-1β. It appears that in the middle doublet, lanes 2, 5, and 8 are duplicate images; lanes 3, 6, and 9 are duplicate images; and lanes 4 and 7 are duplicate images. There is also concern of possible manipulation of the data shown across the bottom band. We believe that the overall conclusions of the paper remain valid, but we are retracting the work due to these underlying concerns about the figure. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

David Z. Qian, Sergio Rey, Jun O. Liu, and Gregg L. Semenza”

The strange thing is why other journals aren’t retracting Semenza’s fake papers. Actually, the strange thing is why PNAS is retracting them. It is most obvious that the retractions weren’t Semenza first choice: in all his PNAS notices he insisted that “the overall conclusions of the paper remain valid“.

Editorial confidence

I must admit it here: Oncogene‘s Editor-in-Chief Justin Stebbing is an incredibly smart man. Sure, this former Imperial College London professor is an utter crook with zero concept for medical or scientific ethics, but Stebbing does know how to hold on to money and power. You can read about him here:

Stebbing found an ingenious way to keep his job as Oncogene‘s EiC: he managed to position himself as a hero of research ethics. His trick: retracting fraudulent papers by fraudsters who are nobodies (cheaters in Asia or failed scientists in the west), while and protecting the fraud of those fraudsters who do matter. To be fair, Stebbing is only one of the two EiC Oncogene has, the other one being George Millersurgical oncologist and biotech entrepreneur in USA. Miller has no PhD degree, but he used to be professor at NYU Langone Health.

So here are Stebbing and Miller cracking down on Alan Storey‘s fake science. Storey, a former professor at Queen Mary University London and University of Oxford, left academia in 2013 and works since as medical writer for changing businesses. Storey’s many forgeries are recorded on PubPeer, some were briefly mentioned here:

This is the retracted paper, it’s 23 years old:

Sarah Jackson , Alan Storey E6 proteins from diverse cutaneous HPV types inhibit apoptosis in response to UV damage Oncogene (2000) doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1203339 

The Retraction Note was published on 24 April 2023 :

The Editors-in-Chief have retracted this article. Concerns were raised regarding image similarities in the figures. Specifically:

In Fig. 1a, the -UV images representing 10E6 and 77E6 appear to contain an overlapping area.

In Fig. 3a, the -UV images representing Vector, 10E6 and 77E6 appear to contain an overlapping area.

Also in Fig. 3a, the -UV and +UV images representing 18E6, and the -UV image representing 5E6 appear to originate from the same sample, with stretching and rotation.

In Fig. 5a, the 5E6 + UV (all time points) and 77E6 + UV (0 days) images appear highly similar.

In Fig. 5b, the 10E6 + UV (6 days) and 77E6 + UV (3 days) images appear highly similar.

In Fig. 5a and b, the Vector control + UV and 10E6 + UV images appear to contain repetitive areas.

The authors are unable to provide the original data because of the age of the study. Due to the high number of concerns, the Editors-in-Chief no longer have confidence in the presented data.

Alan Storey does not agree to this retraction. The Publisher has not been able to obtain a current email address for Sarah Jackson.

Here is how Stebbing solves the cases of Oncogene‘s important authors, in this case Paul Modrich, Nobel Prize laureate of 2015, awarded for his “mechanistic studies of DNA repair”, and Curtis Harris, NIH bigwig with a nice PubPeer record of fake science. Harris and the following Oncogene paper featured in this article:

Moshe Szyf demands an apology

“We demand that you publicly apologize to our clients and retract all your statements within one week from today. Failure to do so will result in our taking an action in both public and private law, against you and McGill University.” – Moshe Szyf and Michael Meaney, via lawyer

Qin Yang , Ran Zhang , Xin W Wang , Steven P Linke , Sagar Sengupta, Ian D Hickson , Graziella Pedrazzi , Claudia Perrera , Igor Stagljar , Susan J Littman , Paul Modrich , Curtis C Harris The mismatch DNA repair heterodimer, hMSH2/6, regulates BLM helicase Oncogene (2004) doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1207462 

Harris denying the duplication

Of course the bands are same, the PubPeer thread contains a nice analysis by Cheshire, using ImageTwin software even. Pressed into a corner, Harris brought down the hammer argument of editorial authority:

“Yes they were happy with the analysis provided to show differences

Kind Regards


Lucinda Haines Senior Publishing Manager

Springer Nature The Campus | 4 Crinan Street |London |N1 9XW |UK T: +44 (0) 207 843 3634

We had the editors of ONCOGENE analyze the western and the enlarged comparison of the two bands is question. As you can read above, they concluded independently that they were different.”

Now you tell me: isn’t Stebbing a criminal genius?

Retracted and replaced

EMBO Journal did one of its specialities again: partial retraction. Which is actually a Correction in this case – some of the offending figures got retracted, and a long notice issued explaining what could be replaced and what couldn’t, and that none of that affected any of the conclusions.

Because the author is a bigwig, in this case the embattled President of Stanford University, Marc Tessier-Lavigne. Who is refusing to stand down despite mounting allegations of fraud, also in his past as senior scientist at Genentech.

The last author of the paper in question is French – the CNRS researcher Valérie Castellani, and you will recall that there is no problem with research fraud at CNRS, only with whistleblowing. The problems were flagged on PubPeer already in 2018.

Ahmad Bechara , Homaira Nawabi , Frédéric Moret , Avraham Yaron , Eli Weaver , Muriel Bozon , Karima Abouzid , Jun-Lin Guan , Marc Tessier-Lavigne , Vance Lemmon , Valérie Castellani FAK-MAPK-dependent adhesion disassembly downstream of L1 contributes to semaphorin3A-induced collapse The EMBO Journal (2008) doi: 10.1038/emboj.2008.86 

In December 2022, Castellani explained that it was actually the publisher EMBO who duplicated the gels in her Figure 4 during submission. Elisabeth Bik then made a comparison, highlighting other changes:

On 26 April 2023, EMBO Journal issued this mega-correction, informing:

Figure 3B and G are retracted and replaced.

Figure 3C is retracted.

Figure 4A is corrected after identification of an error.

Splice sites were identified and source data are published, where available, for Figs 3A, D and E, and 4C.

Figure legend for Figs 2E and 4A is updated.

We are informed about Fig 3B and G that the “authors agree that the blots are duplicated, and note that they made an error in the assembly of the figure panels“. As for Figure 4A, “the editors note that a duplication in Fig 4A was not present in the accepted manuscript figure set. In the absence of archived manuscript proofs, the cause of this duplication remains unclear.” Other, new issues were reported:

“The editors were made aware of a potential duplication in the Fig 2B Nrpl/plexVSV and Fig 2C plexVSV, IP L1 western blots. After analyzing the published figure and the provided author source data, the editors concluded that there is no definitive evidence for an image aberration. […]

Figures 3A, D and E, and 4C

Multiple splice sites were detected, which were not marked in the published manuscript.”

The authors apologise and assure us that conclusions are all unaffected.

Castellani of course has more problematic papers on PubPeer. This is nice:

Valérie Castellani , Alain Chédotal , Melitta Schachner , Catherine Faivre-Sarrailh , Geneviève Rougon Analysis of the L1-Deficient Mouse Phenotype Reveals Cross-Talk between Sema3A and L1 Signaling Pathways in Axonal Guidance Neuron (2000) doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(00)00033-7 

Bik: “Red boxes: Panels wt and COS Sema3A appear to show the same fuzzy cell, albeit shown at a different rotation, and with certain features removed or added.

On PubPeer, Castellani and her co-author Catherine Faivre-Sarrailh agreed it was all an unintentional mistake. More lack of intent here, also found by Bik:

Camille Charoy , Homaira Nawabi , Florie Reynaud, Edmund Derrington , Muriel Bozon, Kevin Wright , Julien Falk , Françoise Helmbacher , Karine Kindbeiter , Valérie Castellani gdnf activates midline repulsion by Semaphorin3B via NCAM during commissural axon guidance Neuron (2012) doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2012.08.021 

The gdnf+/+ panel in Figure 1I and the gdnf-/-NrC-/- panel in Figure 4A appear to show the same specimen.
The control panels in Figure 7F NCAM-/-, Figure 7F NCAM-/- +gdnf, and Figure 7H cont+anti-gfra1 all appear to overlap with each other.

Castellani wrote on PubPeer:

We apologize for these mistakes in assembling the 70 panels of the figures, and will prepare an erratum for the journal.”

Science Breakthroughs

Reactivation and proliferation of stem cells

Israeli news site NoCamels celebrates a stroke of scientific genius:

“Israeli scientists have found that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) can significantly relieve the symptoms of those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A study conducted by researchers from Tel Aviv University and the Shamir Medical Center on 35 veterans from the Israel Defense Forces found that new HBOT protocols reduce symptoms in those that suffer from treatment-resistant PTSD, demonstrating significant improvement in all classes of symptoms.

The peer-reviewed study was published earlier this week in the prestigious scientific journal PlosOne.”

Here is the prestigious study:

Keren Doenyas-Barak , Merav Catalogna , Ilan Kutz , Gabriela Levi , Amir Hadanny , Sigal Tal , Shir Daphna-Tekoha , Efrat Sasson , Yarden Shechter , Shai Efrati Hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves symptoms, brain’s microstructure and functionality in veterans with treatment resistant post-traumatic stress disorder: A prospective, randomized, controlled trial PLoS ONE (2022) doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0264161 

Yes, you may have recognised its authors. HBOT scammer Shai Efrati and his Tel Aviv gang of data fudgers.

The NoCamels article continues:

“Efrati’s team at Shamir Medical Center’s Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research has done extensive research on the use of HBOT to improve brain function in patients that suffer from stroke, fibromyalgia, and Alzheimer’s. In one contentious 2020 study, Efrati even claimed that HBOT has the potential to “reverse” aging at the cellular level.

“Today we understand that treatment-resistant PTSD is caused by a biological wound in brain tissues, which obstructs attempts at psychological and psychiatric treatments,” said Prof. Shai Efrati in a statement, “With the new HBOT protocols, we can activate mechanisms that repair the wounded brain tissue. The treatment induces reactivation and proliferation of stem cells, as well as generation of new blood vessels and increased brain activity, ultimately restoring the functionality of the wounded tissues. Our study paves the way to a better understanding of the connection between mind and body.””

Now, the study had 35 combat veterans, 18 in the fancy-high-tech HBOT group and 17 receiving nothing, not even placebo. But this is not the main shortcoming. The trial NCT03466554 was registered its completion stage for 30 participants, meaning an unknown number of additional patients were treated after the trial completed in 2019. And the control group actually was offered HBOT also.

Maybe Efrati is an Iranian agent, working to undermine Israeli Defence Force by data fudgery and quackery? In any case, his Tel Aviv University celebrates every trash paper he publishes to advertise for his HBOT business:

Fish poisoning

This is CNN.

Informing you that “New research suggests that french fries may be linked to depression

“A research team in Hangzhou, China, found that frequent consumption of fried foods, especially fried potatoes, was linked with a 12% higher risk of anxiety and 7% higher risk of depression than in people who didn’t eat fried foods.

The link was more pronounced among young men and younger consumers.

Fried foods are known risk factors for obesity, high blood pressure and other health effects. These results “open an avenue in the significance of reducing fried food consumption for mental health,” according to the paper published Monday in the journal PNAS. […]

The study evaluated 140,728 people over 11.3 years. After excluding participants diagnosed with depression within the first two years, a total of 8,294 cases of anxiety and 12,735 cases of depression were found in those that consumed fried food, while specifically fried potatoes were found to have a 2% increase in risk of depression over fried white meat.

The study had also found that the participants consuming more than one serving of fried food regularly were more likely to be younger men.”

This is the paper. It’s main research was actually with zebrafish.

Anli Wang , Xuzhi Wan , Pan Zhuang , Wei Jia , Yang Ao , Xiaohui Liu , Yimei Tian , Li Zhu , Yingyu Huang , Jianxin Yao , Binjie Wang , Yuanzhao Wu , Zhongshi Xu , Jiye Wang , Weixuan Yao , Jingjing Jiao , Yu Zhang High fried food consumption impacts anxiety and depression due to lipid metabolism disturbance and neuroinflammation Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2023)   doi: 10.1073/pnas.2221097120

From the abstract:

“long-term exposure to acrylamide, a representative food processing contaminant in fried products, exacerbates scototaxis and thigmotaxis, and further impairs exploration ability and sociality of adult zebrafish, showing anxiety- and depressive-like behaviors.”

Poor fish. They dumped the highly toxic acrylamide into their fishtanks to see if the fish will like it. The fish didn’t. But PNAS liked it.

Of course it is much more reasonable to assume the causality to be that people first become depressed and then eat bad food, not vice versa. But this wouldn’t fit the paper’s message to avoid everything western.

The paper’s abstract opens with: “Western dietary patterns have been unfavorably linked with mental health.” The findings: American French fries are evil and make both humans and fishes depressed, but it is perfectly healthy to eat Chinese-style fried chicken or duck, as the authors say. The Chinese Communist Party and PNAS peer review gave their blessings to this brain-damaged propaganda of Chinese nationalism.

Spermidine for life

The German popular science magazine GEO wants you to start buying anti-aging supplements, in this case spermidin. Because science has spoken, as GEO informs with authority (translated):

“Researchers from the University of Hanover have investigated what the effects of taking spermidine can be. For their study, they gave aged mice spermidine through their drinking water for six months. The result: Compared to non-treated animals of the same age, the mice showed significant anti-aging effects. “The spermidine supply ensured that the animals developed less kidney and liver damage and a better performance-enhancing glucose supply in the brain,” explains study leader Professor Ponimaskin. Age-related hair loss was also significantly lower than in the control group.

Scientists at the University of Innsbruck have investigated whether this effect also works in humans. As part of the Bruneck study, 829 subjects were asked to keep a food diary for 20 years. They had to indicate how often they eat certain foods. The result of the study : Test persons who took in a lot of spermidine through their diet, i.e. at least 80 µmol (micromole) spermidine per day, had a significantly lower risk of dying in the 20-year observation period. “The survival benefit of a spermidine-rich diet compared to a spermidine-poor diet (<60 µmol per day) is around five years,” says young researcher Raimund Pechlaner.”

These are the two papers:

Alexander Wirth, Bettina Wolf, Cheng-Kai Huang, Silke Glage, Sebastian J. Hofer, Marion Bankstahl, Christian Bär, Thomas Thum, Kai G. Kahl, Stephan J. Sigrist, Frank Madeo, Jens P. Bankstahl, Evgeni Ponimaskin Novel aspects of age-protection by spermidine supplementation are associated with preserved telomere length GeroScience (2021) doi: 10.1007/s11357-020-00310-0 

Stefan Kiechl , Raimund Pechlaner , Peter Willeit , Marlene Notdurfter , Bernhard Paulweber , Karin Willeit , Philipp Werner , Christoph Ruckenstuhl , Bernhard Iglseder , Siegfried Weger , Barbara Mairhofer , Markus Gartner , Ludmilla Kedenko , Monika Chmelikova , Slaven Stekovic , Hermann Stuppner , Friedrich Oberhollenzer , Guido Kroemer , Manuel Mayr , Tobias Eisenberg , Herbert Tilg, Frank Madeo, Johann Willeit Higher spermidine intake is linked to lower mortality: a prospective population-based study American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2018) doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy102 

The second paper is coauthored by none other but Guido Kroemer. Forgive me for gettign a laughing fit. In this regard, the professional qualified expert science journalists of GEO “spoke to the neurologist Stefan Kiechl, who was responsible for the study and also leads at the Medical University Inssbruck VASCage . A center dedicated to healthy aging and research into age-related changes in blood vessels“.

I wrote about Kiechl’s spermidine research before, regarding a different paper he co-authored with University of Graz professor Frank Madeo, who is also co-author on the two GEO-celebrated papers above, where he declares “equity interests in The Longevity Labs (TLL), a company founded in 2016 that develops natural food extracts”. It’s web address is, in case you wondered what they sell.

TLL’s scientific advisory board includes of course Kroemer, plus Madeo, Stephan Sigrist, Evgeni Ponimaskin, a bunch of other spermidine-bulging males, including, ta-da: David Sinclair. Madeo is actually not just an advisor: he is the founder of TLL, the company celebrates him as “the discoverer of spermindine”. Basically, all this allegedly independent spermidine anti-aging “research” which GEO celebrates is really Madeo’s own.

But GEO are proper science journalists, they don’t write such dirty anti-science lies as I just did. GEO instead writes:

“”You can definitely say that people who take a lot of spermidine live longer,” says Kiechl.

In observation studies, one must always exclude confounding factors. Did the people who grew particularly old in the Innsbruck study simply eat healthier in general and exercise a lot – and therefore lived longer? Kiechl says these disruptive factors have been taken into account. “Nevertheless, there was a significant effect with spermidine.” The final proof can only be provided by an intervention study. This is already planned at VASCage, and the results should be published in a few years. […]

If all the necessary further studies prove the effect of spermidine – which Kiechl assumes – then we will only know with absolute certainty whether spermidine is really the miracle cure that many believe it to be, laypeople as well as experts.”

Frank Madeo (l.) und Tobias Eisenberg. Photo: Uni Graz

I wondered if Kiechl’s intervention study at VASCage is also controlled by Madeo’s or his TLL. It seems it is: the sponsor of the NCT04405388 trial “Spermidine Anti-Hypertension Study (SMARTEST)” is Medical University of Graz. One trial’s study director is Madeo’s lab project leader (and apparently also TLL’s co-founder) Tobias Eisenberg.

The other two study directors, Simon Sedej and Mahmoud Abdellatif, and the trial’s PI Dirk von Lewinski are all Madeo’s collaborators (e.g.: all of them, plus Kiechl and Kroemer, are on this recent paper). Madeo is not really good in hiding behind his human sockuppets when peddling his spermidine supplements.

What great journalism GEO does though.

But I like the idea that Kroemer is the center of data-fudging universe of biomedicine. Juts follow him around and see with whom he hangs out.

Update 5.05.2023: Obviously For Better Science is being read by all the right people. The Hannover Medical School (MHH) professor Evgeni Ponimaskin contacted me to explain why his associatiation with TLL wasn’t declared in the earlier paper:

Our paper was fully accepted for publication in December of 2020, and I got the member of TLL advisory bord as recently as at March 2023.

I can’t prove otherwise. But Ponimaskin has been publishing about the miraculous power of spermidin with Madeo, Sigrist and Eisenberg for years.

Ponimaskin and Alexander Wirth. proved in above discussed Wirth et al 2021 that spermidine prevents hair loss. Fact:: both men have full head of hair. And so do Madeo and Kroemer. Kiechl and Sigrist seem to be losing hair though, I suggest to take more spermidine! (Photo: Karin Kaiser/MHH)

News in Tweets

  • New York Times on Chinese COVID-19 cover-up: “Under pressure from their government, Chinese scientists have withheld data, withdrawn genetic sequences from public databases and altered crucial details in journal submissions. Western journal editors enabled those efforts by agreeing to those edits or withdrawing papers for murky reasons, a review by The Times of over a dozen retracted papers found. Groups including the World Health Organization have given credence to muddled data and inaccurate timelines.
  • Forbes: “Medical experts are raising new questions about the safety of the anti-Alzheimer’s drug lecanemab, which is marketed as Leqembi by drugmakers Biogen and Eisai. One study, which looked in detail at the death of a participant in a Leqembi research trial, suggests people with a condition that affects as many as half of those with Alzheimer’s disease may be at risk for severe, and even fatal, brain bleeding if they take the drug. And most troubling, the condition that endangers these people is extremely hard to diagnose. The result: Many of those who decide to take the drug won’t know how much risk they are taking.”
  • Abby Philips:Last year we published our brilliant report which detailed the painstaking clinical investigation that helped a young girl survive without a liver transplantation. “Ayurvedic treatment induced severe alcoholic hepatitis and non-cirrhotic portal hypertension in a 14-year-old girl.” The girl suffered liver injury due to the Ayurvedic treatment (which she was on for seizures) leading to arsenic and alcohol poisoning over many years, which we reversed. The Ayurvedic meds were also adulterated with anti-seizure drug. This was the viral tweet on it. Now the Ayurvedic practitioner K.P. Manikandan ( has threatened legal action against ALL authors of the study.
  • Meet a star of Indian science papermilling: “Dr. Abhijit Dey […] was elected as the Fellow of the Linnean Society of London in 2018. He was also included among the world Ranking of Top 2% Scientists in 2021 database (Published: 19 October 2021) created by experts at Stanford University, USA in association with Elsevier BV and Plos Biology. He has been nominated (invited) for Full Membership into Sigma Xi in 2021.”
  • A feline Twitter user: “A PubPeer post devoted to 10.3390/metabo13020183 exposes an extorted reference 245. Elham Ahmadian and Aziz Eftekhari are there. But there is also – surprise! – Rovshan Khalilov, and we’ve certainly seen him previously.”

Taras Persidskyy and Arik of Negev, Shahed Hunters

“He has embarked on a path of unacceptable slander, not only against me, but also against my colleagues (Prof. Oleg Smutok, Prof. Arnold Kiv, Prof. Vladimir Solovyov). We have all the necessary evidence to bring Leonid Schneider to justice for slander and moral turpitude.” – Taras Kavetskyy.

  • Not a tweet, but a YouTube trailer for Robert Cockburn‘s documentary of medical malpractice. I previously hosted his guest post.


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5 comments on “Schneider Shorts 28.04.2023 – Helping young and aspiring people

  1. “There is nothing irregular, image integrity-wise, in newer papers by Elledge lab”

    Since becoming a professor at Harvard Stephen J Elledge has gone all “genomical”,
    another “new technology driv[ing] science”,
    but notoriously difficult to analyse without access to the raw data. Gone are the days of western blots, by Stephen J Elledge’s lab.


  2. “Here is Elledge with another bigwig of cancer research field, the Canadian Tak Mak.”

    Given the paucity of Chinese names not all the entries will be the Toronto Tak Mak,
    but readers can check. The Toronto Tak Mak is another one who does not keep kosher, or falls over his own feet, however you like to explain the problematic data.


  3. “Retracted and replaced
    EMBO Journal did one of its specialities again: partial retraction. Which is actually a Correction in this case – some of the offending figures got retracted, and a long notice issued explaining what could be replaced and what couldn’t, and that none of that affected any of the conclusions”.

    San Francisco Chronicle reporting.


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