Schneider Shorts of 19 May 2023 – Bad Optiks for an Elsevier journal, a rectification of bad journalism, a retraction achieved, with Taiwanese politics, young blood, menthol cures, and finally, an Israeli scientist’s supplement-induced paranoia.
Table of Discontent
- Why me and who are these people – Ruth Gabizon’s supplement-induced paranoia
- Name should be removed – Springer Nature journal bullies Taiwan authors
- We have made great progress – AIP finally retracts a plagiarised conference paper
- Bad Optiks – New EiC wants to clean up Elsevier journal overrun by fraud
- We can push off aging – with young blood, of course
- Menthol for Alzheimer’s – science in Frontiers has spoken!
- On request of Eugenie Reich, I correct a shameful claim in a 2019 article
News in Tweets
Why me and who are these people
The Israeli Scientist Ruth Gabizon is professor at the The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and its Hadassah Medical School, her lab is “devoted to the study of neurodegenerative diseases caused by prions.” She is finding cures for the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), trained as postdoc by none other but the Nobelist Stanley Prusiner himself.
Gabizon claims to be completely confused by what goes on on PubPeer for the last nine years. This was flagged in August 2014:
Yael Friedman-Levi , Zeev Meiner , Tamar Canello , Kati Frid , Gabor G. Kovacs , Herbert Budka , Dana Avrahami , Ruth Gabizon Fatal prion disease in a mouse model of genetic E200K Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease PLoS Pathogens (2011) doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002350
The “wt” gel band was most obviously digitally pasted in to replace undesired results. Classic case of data forgery. In April 2015, an unnamed author (most obviously Gabizon herself) reacted on PubPeer:
“I recently realized that somebody is looking over immunoblots in all our manuscripts, enhances them to max by Photoshop, and reports the places in which some bands look distorted, duplicated etc.
I would like to point out that we have original figures for most of those, but more important is the fact that for data fabrication, if this is what is suggested, you can always produce a “perfect” gel. Moreover, the important irregularities in data will not come from some more cleaner gels but form other tampered data. Numbers in tables, animal data about time of disease or success of treatment which cannot be followed regardless of peer effort, pathology data in which specific positive pictures can be taken from otherwise empty slides, and most important “choosing” the one good experiment which reflects “wishful thinking over the many negatives.
We all know this and regretfully we cannot follow what other people are doing. It is only time that tells us if results are good or bad. If they are important, people will repeat them to continue their work. If they are not, they will be forgotten anyway.
As for our work, anybody that has questions can write me directly and get form me all the information, including reagents and mice.”
In June 2015, more problematic data in that paper was found:
All these gels are clearly falsified. But Gabizon said she had all raw data! In May 2017, the paper received a Correction for Figure 2E, Figure 5A and 5B, and Figure 2E:
“…The authors confirm that these changes do not alter their findings. The authors have provided raw, uncropped original blots for the corrected figures, Fig 2E, Fig 5A, and Fig 5B. In addition, for full transparency, raw uncropped blots have been provided for other blot figures in the manuscript, including Fig 5C, Fig 6, and Fig 7, as Supporting Information….”
But wait! There was more, as reported by Elisabeth Bik just now, in May 2023:
The Canello et al 2010 paper is problematic also. Gabizon replied on PubPeer:
Suddenly, the raw data for Figure 6 previously provided to the journal, disappeared. And she denies similarities.
So Orchestes quercus made animations to prove that the gel fragments are identical. For example:
Gabizon replied on PubPeer indicating that the raw data she once neatly sent to PLOS Pathogens wasn’t actually the raw data, because that one was actually lost long ago:
“First I want to point out that this paper was published in 2011 and it represents 3 years of work, so these gels may be 15 years old and difficult to find now. I also want to point out that the main subject of this paper was to present a genetic model of prion disease linked to the E200K mutation in PrP, describe the clinical disease, the pathology (done in Budka”s laboratory in VIenna), and the properties of the relevant mutant PrP. These mice were used in the years since then in many experiments and projects and serve as a wonderful system to test pathology and treatment for genetic CJD.
The panel under discussion here (the wt brains in figure 6) present levels of PrP in wt mice, which are all in the higher fractions of the gradients. This fact is known for many years about PrPCC as a GPI anchored protein, and we as well as many others have presented such results years before. Since there is no new result in this panel, but just a control which could have been omitted easily from the paper without losing any of the effects regarding the mutant mice, there was no point for “fabrication” of any form, which obviously we did not do.
I hope this is clear now. If you or anybody else would like to get our Tg mice and test them by themselves for any experiment, please contact me directly.”
Yet nobody complained about the mice, only about the western blots. But those were controls anyway, who needs those.
Orchestes quercus spotted something the experts at PLOS Pathogens did not spot. The “raw data” full-size gels, their edges clearly visible, were shorter than published gels.
Utterly impossible, unless of course the original gel was digitally “extended” by forgery, to include fictional lanes with fictional samples.
This was not the only problematic paper by Gabizon. She has 15 PubPeer entries.
This PLOS One paper was corrected in 2015, following Pubpeer comments from August 2014:
Yael Friedman-Levi , Michal Mizrahi , Kati Frid , Orli Binyamin , Ruth Gabizon PrP(ST), a soluble, protease resistant and truncated PrP form features in the pathogenesis of a genetic prion disease PLoS ONE (2013) doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069583
The Correction from July 2015 stated:
“PLOS Staff Editors contacted the authors for a response to these concerns and to request the original gels for these figures. The authors acknowledged that the figures contained some imperfections, which they suggested related to the scanning backgrounds.
The authors have declared that the figure imperfections have no effect on the results and conclusions of the study. They have provided the journal office with the original gel for Figure 3b and the original gel from a similar experiment for Figure 2c. The original gels and the published figures have been reviewed by a Section Editor (Prof. Per Westermark), who is satisfied with the authors’ response to the concerns.”
Who are we to question Prof Per Westermark’s judgement. It seems submitting fudged raw data was a thing at Gabizon’s lab already in 2015. This was flagged by Bik in 2014, with no action from Gabizon and the journal whatsoever:
Tehila Mayer-Sonnenfeld , Dana Avrahami , Yael Friedman-Levi , Ruth Gabizon Chemically induced accumulation of GAGs delays PrP(Sc) clearance but prolongs prion disease incubation time Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology (2008) doi: 10.1007/s10571-008-9274-1
Nothing at all happened also here, 8 years after the PubPeer evidence was posted:
Gilmor I. Keshet , Haim Ovadia , Albert Taraboulos , Ruth Gabizon Scrapie-infected mice and PrP knockout mice share abnormal localization and activity of neuronal nitric oxide synthase Journal of Neurochemistry (1999) doi: 10.1046/j.1471-4159.1999.0721224.x
Gideon M. Shaked , Yuval Shaked , Zehavit Kariv-Inbal , Michele Halimi , Inbal Avraham , Ruth Gabizon A protease-resistant prion protein isoform is present in urine of animals and humans affected with prion diseases Journal of Biological Chemistry (2001) doi: 10.1074/jbc.c100278200
Maybe you noticed that the only common author on all those above papers (and others discussed on PubPeer) is Ruth Gabizon. Who wrote to me on 11 May 2023:
“Several years ago I started to get “new comments” from Pub-Peer. It took me a while to realize there was a pattern to this. Actually, it was clear somebody (anonymous) was going over all my publications and looking for imperfections in gels that can be seen after severe distortion. I managed to supply corrections to the relevant journals and of course discussed it with our institution officials, which have seen such a pattern before. Pub-Peer is a great institution but their system of anonymity allows for wrongful conduct against peer scientists. In particular the fact that for a long time the critic was all about finding imperfections in immunoblots. We all know that If you really want to fabricate a result you can easily run a perfect fabricated gel, why bother to publish an imperfect one? The same is true for any quantitative result as disease score, RT-PCR etc. False results in science are discovered when you cannot repeat a result. And even then it happens that experiments don’t work the same in different labs. I myself when I read a paper read mostly the methods and results and decide if they make sense to me. I would never take a gel to photoshop to see how it looks when distorted. Why would I do that?
I have some ideas regarding why me and who are these people (or maybe just one?) but I am not sure. Will be happy if you help me find out what happens here. I am almost 70, partially retired and I am devoting a large part of my time to other projects so it is not clear what is going on. “
Elisabeth Bik is not anonymous. There is no targetted harassment against Gabizon, hundreds of bad scientists on PubPeer get their papers methodically screened. But maybe Gabizon is indeed elderly and confused. Decades of groundbreaking research on CJD can be brain damaging, I guess.
I also appreciate this about the raction of Hebrew University leadership when faced with data forgery, who “have seen such a pattern before” and decided it was all an antisemitic foreign conspiracy to discredit Israeli scientists. This self-hating diaspora Jew is used to such rotten attitude in Israeli universities. And even Gabizon’s paranoia is nothing new:
“I feel harassed and targeted”
“It was done for ‘esthetic’ reason ONLY.” – Prof Hagit Eldar-Finkelman
And as for reproducibility of Gabizon’s science: Did you know one can cure CJD with pomegranates?
Michal Mizrahi , Yael Friedman-Levi , Liraz Larush , Kati Frid , Orli Binyamin , Dvir Dori , Nina Fainstein , Haim Ovadia , Tamir Ben-Hur , Shlomo Magdassi , Ruth Gabizon Pomegranate seed oil nanoemulsions for the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases: the case of genetic CJD Nanomedicine Nanotechnology Biology and Medicine (2014) doi: 10.1016/j.nano.2014.03.015
Gabizon replied on PubPeer in May 2023 that she and her team “have not been able yet to find the original gels (problems of old computer disks)” because it was “10 years ago“, but it was no problem at all now to repeat those decade-old experiments and arrive to exactly same result. Indeed, she just cured 30 multiple sclerosis patients with nanoformulated pomegranate seed oil, or so she and her colleagues claim (Petrou et al 2021).
The reason the method works so great is…
Granalix’s was founded already in 2013, a bottle of pomegranate seeds extract costs $49.
Now you know which other projects Gabizon partially retired into. And apparently, taking her own supplements did not maintain Gabizon’s cognitive energy, focus and memory at all. Quite the opposite, she has been submitting forged raw data to avoid retractions.
Extra joke: Adriano Aguzzi defended one of his problematic papers on PubPeer with:
Aguzzi and the Lowlifes
The prion researcher Adriano Aguzzi used to describe his Pubpeer critics as “lowlifes”, and himself as a victim of a lynch mob. But after Elisabeth Bik helped him find even more mistakes in his papers, Aguzzi changed his stance.
Name should be removed
Scholarly publishing industry claims to be outside of any political and territorial disputes. This is why all publishers agreed almost a decade ago that Crimea was indeed russian after russia occupied and annexed part of Ukraine when the war started in 2014. Scientists in Crimea universities were never corrected when they listed their affiliation as russia.
War, politics and academic publishing
The Euromaidan revolution of winter 2013/2014 in Ukrainian capital Kiev toppled the Moscow-friendly president and quickly led to an establishment of a democratically elected EU-oriented government in Ukraine. Shortly after the collapse of the corrupt pro-Russian regime became evident, Russia, led by its dictatorial president Vladimir Putin, has moved to illegally occupy the Ukrainian peninsula…
But what about Taiwan? The island which declared itself independent from China in 1949, which de facto independence was never officially recognised by most nations including USA who however stand ready to defend Taiwan from any military attack by the People’s Republic of China? How do publishers treat the Taiwan question?
Well, this email from 2018 to an author from Taiwan shows is how Springer Nature journal Light: Science and Applications treads this fine line (highlights mine):
“Dear Prof […],
Thank you for your contribution to submit the manuscript to Light: Science & Applications.
In checking your manuscript […], recently submitted to Light: Science & Applications, it has come to our attention that the following issue must be addressed before we can begin the peer-review process.
‘National’ in Taiwan institution name should be removed. Thus, affiliations in your manuscript should be shown as below:
1 Department of Chemistry, Tsing Hua University
3 Research Center for Applied Sciences, Academia Sinica
4 Department of Electrophysics, Chiao Tung University
Your manuscript has been placed back in the Author Approval Folder, which you may access using the following link: [….]
Please make the correction as specified above and complete the submission of your manuscript following the same steps as before.
The submission is considered to be incomplete until the initial quality check has been passed. Please read the author instructions carefully and prepare the manuscript accordingly to avoid delays in the submission process.
Your revised manuscript should be submitted within 10 days of the date of this letter. Otherwise, we will withdraw this manuscript. Any manuscript you submit later than 10 days will be considered as a new submission.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact the Editorial Office.
Light: Science & Applications Editorial Office”
It is not just this author. See for example Lin et al 2016, where the Taiwanese authors were made to rename their National Taiwan University to “Taiwan University” and their National Taipei University of Technology to “Taipei University of Technology”. But that was years ago, the policy seems to have changed since. The journal simply stopped publishing papers from Taiwan. As I heard, they are now desk-rejected outright for pretend reasons.
The journal’s Editor-in Chief Jianlin Cao is the former Vice Minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China. His co-Editor-in-Chief is a China native at the University of Rochester, USA, Xi-Cheng Zhang. The Co-Founding Executive Editors-in-Chief are: China native Tianhong Cui (University of Minnesota, USA), and a German, Stefan Kaierle, who is a honorary professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Of the 5 Co-Executive Editors-in-Chief 3 are Chinese, one more German, Andreas Tünnermann (University Jena), and a Swiss Luc Thévenaz (EPFL).
Basically, it is a China-run journal, despite the occasional non-Chinese editors. No wonder Taiwanese authors are humiliated and banned outright. Springer Nature seems OK with this.
We have made great progress
In November 2021, the Japanese physicist Akira Okumura, lecturer at the Nagoya University, wrote to AIP Publishing to complain about this conference proceedings paper:
T. Arsov Simulating the optical performance of an image atmospheric Cherenkov telescope AIP Conference Proceedings (2019) doi: 10.1063/1.5091232
The paper was submitted to the 10th Jubilee International Conference of the Balkan Physical Union (BPU 10), which took place in August 2018 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Its author, Todor Petkov Arsov, is listed as “Assistant” at the Institute of Nuclear Research and Nuclear Energy of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in Sofia.
Okumura wrote on 24 November 2021:
Reference 2 is Okumura et al 2016 and reference 3 is Okamura et al 2011. This time, the publisher replied, and Okumura provided details:
“In the Introduction section of , you will find many sentences that are identical or very similar to sentences in Sections 1 and 2.1.1 of .
In the Methodology section of , similar plagiarism can be found (including Fig. 1) that were copied from Sections 2.1 and 2.3 of .
It looks that the Result section of  is OK as the author’s work is original. But I guess that they were not able to write the introduction part themselves and thus they copied many sentences from my papers.”
On 26 January 2022, AIP’s Editorial Assistant for Conference Proceedings, Emily Prendergast, informed Okumura that they will “follow COPE protocol in handling this case which may take some time“.
Predatory authors, by Wolfgang Dreybrodt
“Publishing in natural sciences proceeds under structures similar to the mafia. Professors exploit the creativity of their subordinates. Predatory authorship increases the number of authors. This leads to a loss of scientific quality and destroys trust in science.”
It took them until May 2023. Okumura kept inquiring, in September 2022 Prendergast replied:
Frustrated, Okumura contacted the editors of the BPU 10 conference proceedings, Todor Mishonov, professor at Sofia University, and Albert Varonov, then a PhD student. They wrote to Okumura on 14 February 2023, with Arsov and his superiors in cc:
“Dear Dr. Okumura, […] If you wish this work to be withdrawn from AIP CP we as editors will write to AIP a letter of support. […]
Your letter activates actually a very important problem – exponential increasing of the number of plagiarism occurrences. That is why we reply to you with a copy to the director of the institute INRNE-BAS where the author works. With this letter we address the administration of the Institute to analyze the case and consider how to prevent analogous situations in the future…“
Arsov’s employer, the Institute of Nuclear Research and Nuclear Energy, did not react. And the publisher was stuck in investigation also. On 10 March 2023, Mishonov and Varonov wrote to AIP:
Prendergast replied on 14 March 2023:
On 30 March 2023, Prendergast informed Mishonov, Varonov and Okumura that the publisher was planning to have an internal meeting and that “our investigation are now being escalated to our Chief Publishing Officer for review“. Meaning, until the letters by Mishonov and Varonov, AIP was doing exactly nothing at all, waiting for this annoying person from Japan to go away and leave them in peace. The investigation obviously started only when the editors of the issue wrote to protest.
On 3 May 2023, Prendergast wrote: “Our investigation is nearing its conclusion and we will keep you informed of the outcome“, two days later she announced the decision to retract. The retraction was published on 10 May 2023, without a separate notice:
“The above article has been retracted by the publisher because it contains significant overlap with manuscripts published in Astroparticle Physics and 32nd International Cosmic Ray Conference.“
They found even more plagiarism, judging form references. Yet AIP sat on it for over a year. Imagine if the proceedings editors were not as ethically principled as Mishonov and Varonov.
Elsewhere, a new Editor-in-Chief of the Elsevier journal Optik is hoping to make progress with the legacy of his predecessor’s. He shouldn’t expect too much support from Elsevier. After all, a different outlet, Journal of Energy Storage, happily continues publishing papermill trash long after its problematic German Editor-in-Chief was replaced.
Maybe stop accepting submissions, Herr Prof Dr Sauer?
Who needs science if you can have a 75 paper strong special edition by Afrand and Karimi? A guest post by Alexander Magazinov.
Nick Wise alerted the editorial office to this gem in Optik, which a) has nothing to do with optics, and b) had its authorships publicly marketed by papermillers:
Romany F. Mansour , Eatedal Alabdulkreem , Heba F. Eid, Sathishkumar K , Mohd Abdul Rahim Khan, Anil Kumar Fuzzy logic based on-line fault detection and classification method of substation equipment based on convolutional probabilistic neural network with discrete wavelet transform and fuzzy interference Optik (2022) doi: 10.1016/j.ijleo.2022.169956
An Elsevier exec named Bingmeng Chen announced to investigate. Wise provided Chen with more inappropriate papers in the current Volume 283 of Optik:
- Imran et al A green perspective: Investigating the optical effects of e-commerce, renewable energy demand, and services trade on carbon emissions
- Sonti & Dhuli, A new convolution neural network model “KR-NET” for retinal fundus glaucoma classification
- Cao et al Template matching based on convolution neural network for UAV visual localization
- Gupta et al Long term estimation of global horizontal irradiance using machine learning algorithms
- Li et al Facial expression recognition network with slow convolution and zero-parameter attention mechanism
- Chen et al Laser cladding remanufacturing of aircraft landing gear based on 30CrMnSiNi2A steel
It is not immediately clear what any of this has to do with the journal’s official scope, “all subjects related to light and electron optics”. Wise also pointed out to a dozen papers in Optik relating to COVID-19, e.g:
- Anand et al 2023 Chest X ray image enhancement using deep contrast diffusion learning
- Kumar 2022 RYOLO v4-tiny: A deep learning based detector for detection of COVID and Non-COVID Pneumonia in CT scans and X-RAY images
- Kumar et al 2022 ETL-YOLO v4: A face mask detection algorithm in era of COVID-19 pandemic
- Shakarami et al 2021 Diagnosing COVID-19 disease using an efficient CAD system
- Cui et al 2021 High-gravity-driven process intensified approach toward Mn2+ doped Zn2GeO4 nanophosphors for deep-ultraviolet detecting
According to Wise, Optik has published over 100 papers on “image classification” or “image segmentation” in the last decade. All this is only very strenuously connected to actual science of optics, even for electronic optics.
The new Editor-in-Chief of the journal is Jer-Shing Huang, professor at the
Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology in Jena, Germany. He took office at the beginning of 2023 and inherited all these papers from the previous EiC, Theo Tschudi, retired professor at the Technical University (TU) of Darmstadt, also in Germany. Huang told me that the problematic papers appeared in special issues:
Huang also said that he and several newly appointed section editors are currently working with Elsevier to clean up that mess. Or maybe against Elsevier, I wonder?
In any case, Huang already sent Elsevier a list of papers in Optik which he found using the “Tortured Phrases Detector” by Cabanac, Labbe and Magazinov. Of this list, Huang suggested:
On the list is Mansour et al 2022 discussed above, plus:
- Goyal et al 2022 Heart disease classification models from optical device-based electrocardiogram signals using machine learning algorithms
- Remya & Nirmala 2022, A novel similarity metric for image filtering
- Abduljabar Alars & Kurnaz 2022 Fusing network traffic features with host traffic features for an improved 5G network intrusion detection system
- Zhicao 2022 (“withdrawn at the request of the author(s) and/or editor.” Development of Music Teaching System based on Speech Recognition and Artificial Intelligence through Optic Communication
- Abdulkader 2022 Cloud data security mechanism using the lightweight cryptography
- Govindarajan et al 2023 An optimization based feature extraction and machine learning techniques for named entity identification
- Jabarulla et al 2017 Computer aided diagnostic system for ultrasound liver images: A systematic review
- Viji et al 2022 Efficient Emotion Based Automatic Speech Recognition Using Optimal Deep Learning Approach
- Girija et al 2022 Mammogram Pectoral Muscle Removal Using Fuzzy C-Means ROI Clustering and MS-CNN Based Multi Classification
- Mishra & Dutta 2023 Modality feature fusion based Alzheimer’s disease prognosis
- Alorfi et al 2023 Biometric authentication integrated with wireless communication malicious activity detection in a cyber physical system-based Fintech banking
- Kombaiah et al 2017 Effect of Cd2+ concentration on ZnFe2O4 nanoparticles on the structural, optical and magnetic properties
A certain responsible editor was already “removed from system”. The former EiC Tschudi did not reply to my email. And then I remembered: I tried to reach out to Tschudi over the same TU Darmstadt email address in November 2019, because his journal published several massively fraudulent papers by the Mexican fraudster Oscar Portillo-Moreno.
Oscar Portillo Moreno – Pinche estúpido Dedica a trabar
The Mexican potty-mouth Oscar Portillo Moreno dopes nanostructured thin films, or so he says. In reality it is not clear if he ever performed any experiments.
TU Darmstadt informed me in November 2019 that Tschudi retired more than a decade ago and is unreachable. Incidentally, Portillo-Moreno died on 7 May 2023, but Tschudi is alive for sure, he handled Optik papers until the end of 2022.
Tschudi didn’t reply to my emails. But he did read them all, it seems. Soon after I last wrote to Tschudi, I received on 18 May 2023 a reply from Elsevier to my three-and-a-half-year-old note about Portillo-Moreno:
Regarding your below email, just to confirm there is an on-going investigation into these claims by our publishing team.
Once it is concluded we can update you on the findings.
Thanks for your patience.
Vice President, Communications
Elsevier literally waited for Portillo-Moreno to die before opening an investigation. As Max Planck said: science advances one funeral at a time.
We can push off aging
US researchers are very proud that they discovered a fountain of youth and that is indeed blood of virgins, just as science has been pronouncing for years.
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.
A press release by Duke University informs:
“In research published in the journal Cell Metabolism, James White, PhD, assistant professor in medicine and cell biology; Gurpreet Baht, PhD, assistant professor in orthopedic surgery and pathology; and team show that biological age —the pace in which a body has aged for every year of life— is fluid, and while it can age faster under stress, it can also be restored once those stressors are eliminated.
First, the team used a heterochronic parabiosis mouse model, in which the blood vessels of a young mouse were connected to an older mouse, so they shared blood circulation. While the older mouse slowed its pace of aging when connected, the younger mouse aged more quickly. “When we separate them and remove the old circulation,” White said, “the young mouse is able to reverse that accelerated aging and go back to its chronological age.” […]
“We show evidence for a reversal of biological aging,” White said. “The young mice, which showed accelerated biological age with exposure from aged circulation, were able to reverse this process and return back to their chronological age after the old circulation was gone.”
And there is human data! No, clam down, they didn’t do that (yet).
“In collaboration with Harvard University, they analyzed human cohorts of stress that included chronic illness, surgery, and pregnancy. Using DNA methylation clocks on blood samples, they found that aging can accelerate during these stressful events, but when the stressors are removed, aging can decelerate.
“This is the first time in in vivo human cohorts that we were able show the pace of aging isn’t just Father Time,” White said. “It accelerates, and hopefully, decelerates over time.” […]
“I think the tissues and cells respond to their environment,” White said. “So, in theory, if we can convince the cells they are young and take out stressors, maybe we can push off aging a while longer.”
This is the paper:
Jesse R. Poganik, Bohan Zhang, Gurpreet S. Baht, Alexander Tyshkovskiy, Amy Deik, Csaba Kerepesi, Sun Hee Yim, Ake T. Lu, Amin Haghani, Tong Gong, Anna M. Hedman, Ellika Andolf, Göran Pershagen, Catarina Almqvist, Clary B. Clish, Steve Horvath, James P. White and Vadim N. Gladyshev, “Biological age is increased by stress and restored upon recovery” Cell Metabolism (2023) DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2023.03.015
The Cell Metabolism paper is paywalled, but in the preprint the “authors declare that they have no competing interests“. Which is not really true: White’s former mentor, the Harvard professor Vadim Gladyshev, is advisor to the biotech investor Longe VC. The former UC Los Angeles professor Steve Horvath (now with Altos Labs San Diego Institute of Science) owns patents for the very technology used by this study to determine epigenetic ageing in biological samples. In fact, it’s even called the Horvath Aging Clock. Horvath is founder of UCLA non-profit spin-out Clock Foundation, and is commercially “Available for Speaking & Advisory Services” as one PR company advertises.
The funny thing is that the Poganik et al study was debunked as artefact already at preprint stage by a different anti-aging entrepreneur, the NAD supplement peddler Charles Brenner:
Menthol for Alzheimer’s
You can always rely on Frontiers when it comes for silliness in neuroscience.
Here a kind of press release:
“A new study reports something strange: When mice with Alzheimer’s disease inhale menthol, their cognitive abilities improve. It seems the chemical compound can stop some of the damage done to the brain that’s usually associated with the disease.
In particular, researchers noticed a reduction in the interleukin-1-beta (IL-1β) protein, which helps to regulate the body’s inflammatory response – a response that can offer natural protection but one that leads to harm when it’s not controlled properly.
The team behind the study says it shows the potential for particular smells to be used as therapies for Alzheimer’s. […]
“We have focussed on the olfactory system’s role in the immune and central nervous systems, and we have confirmed that menthol is an immunostimulatory odor in animal models,” says immunologist Juan José Lasarte from the Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA) in Spain.
“But, surprisingly, we observed that short exposures to this substance for six months prevented cognitive decline in the mice with Alzheimer’s and, what is most interesting, also improved the cognitive ability of healthy young mice.”
Basically, whenever you chew a gum or brush your teeth, the menthol protects you from dementia. This is the Frontiers paper:
Noelia Casares , María Alfaro , Mar Cuadrado-Tejedor , Aritz Lasarte-Cia , Flor Navarro , Isabel Vivas , María Espelosin , Paz Cartas-Cejudo , Joaquín Fernández-Irigoyen , Enrique Santamaría , Ana García-Osta , Juan José Lasarte Improvement of cognitive function in wild-type and Alzheimer´s disease mouse models by the immunomodulatory properties of menthol inhalation or by depletion of T regulatory cells Frontiers in Immunology (2023) doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2023.1130044
We are informed in the press release:
I didn’t know mice ever had Alzheimer’s, but I know there are poor models. Here, the authors used transgenic mice with a mutated amyloid precursor protein (APP) by Saito et al 2014, and never mind the science has moved on since from blaming APP for Alzheimer’s. Because much of APP science was fake and irreproducible.
Sylvain Lesné is a failed scientist
From Lesné’s public shame to successful role models of neuroscience like Aguzzi and Tessier-Lavigne.
“”This study is an important step toward understanding the connection between the immune system, the central nervous system, and smell,” says immunologist Noelia Casares from CIMA.
“The results suggest that odors and immune modulators may play an important role in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s and other diseases related to the central nervous system.”
Journalists are sometimes contacted by lawyers with requests for public corrections or rectifications. So now I am issuing one.
In my December 2019 article about the stem cell researcher Catherine Verfaillie I wrote this badly incorrect sentence:
Catherine Verfaillie, the Zombie Scientist of KU Leuven
Catherine Verfaillie is a zombie scientist: her past stem cell research long discredited, but she still is an influential and very well funded star of Belgian science. Now Elisabeth Bik had a fresh new look at Verfaillie’s papers
In March 2023, Eugenie Reich, former science journalist and now lawyer, contacted me via a comment under that article. She wrote:
I invited Reich to a guest post on my site, to which she agreed. After a long chain of emails, I received this statement on 16 May 2023, which I herewith reproduce in full and unedited, and will also link this Short inside the original 2019 article, as requested. Here it goes, by Eugenie Reich:
“Common Mistakes In Fraud Cases
A few years ago, Leonid Schneider published an investigation into data irregularities in the work of Catherine Verfaillie, Director of the Stem Cell Institute at KU Leuven. There was an error where his blog post speculated that an anonymous whistleblower at the University of Minnesota first tipped off the press to the problem. Ironically, however, he was not the first person to assume there had to be an anonymous whistleblower tipping off the press: Verfaillie was.
The irregularities in Verfaillie’s work were first detected by me and a colleague at New Scientist, Peter Aldhous, in 2005-2006, during my former career as a science reporter. In late 2005, Aldhous edited two articles that I had written about Korean stem cell fraudster Woo Suk Hwang. As the dust settled, Aldhous commented that the work of other stem cell laboratories was hyped and suggested that I examine three high-profile papers that could not be reproduced by other research groups. Note that Aldhous did not have an anonymous source: the lack of replicability was well-known. I reviewed the papers on the Aldhous watchlist over the Christmas vacation of 2005. One of the three was Verfaillie’s Nature paper from 2002. I compared this paper to her body of work and noticed that she showed data from a different experiment, with different mice, published in Experimental Hematology. I also noticed other irregularities in her group’s work, notably in a paper in Blood. (Links to these and other papers appear in Schneider’s original post; where the Blood example includes a gel that has been duplicated, flipped, and recaptioned).
Aldhous sent my findings out for review by other stem cell scientists, and emailed a selection to Verfaillie. Her first reaction included pressing Aldhous for the name of the anonymous colleague who had tipped us off. Like Schneider, therefore, Verfaillie assumed there had to be a whistleblower. On her part, this seemed wishful, as if the problem could be controlled by following up with such a person to alleviate their concerns.
Aldhous and I were invited to explain our observations to an investigation at the University of Minnesota. The investigation concluded that a former post-doc of Verfaillie had falsified the data we queried in Blood, and that Verfaillie had failed in her supervisory responsibilities: a case of an institution censuring a principal investigator and not only a junior member of a laboratory. The Blood paper was retracted. While Verfaillie denied supervisory failures and other post-docs spoke up in her defense, I went on to discover evidence for data manipulation in a paper that did not involve the Blood post-doc, which we challenged, and which was also then retracted. Based on these, and on the many calls that Aldhous made far and wide to vet what I was seeing in the data with stem cell experts, I am confident that by 2008-2009, there was widespread knowledge in the stem cell research community of a troubling pattern of questionable data handling in the Verfaillie lab. Sometimes, evidence for fraud is simply hiding in plain sight.
In the intervening years, Verfaillie moved from Minnesota to KU Leuven, and in 2019, Schneider reported Elisabeth Bik’s findings that data in papers by two more first authors had been mishandled in 2013 and 2014, i.e., after her move. KU Leuven or the authors have since tried to correct these errors (for example here and here). It is amazing that the publication of discernibly inaccurate figures continued even after a full-blown investigation and widespread consensus about the problem, and that the pattern of incomplete corrections continued too. For this case at least, it remains possible to articulate allegations of scientific misconduct without a need for whistleblowers from inside the lab.”
I feel quite uneasy being seemingly compared in my own integrity to Verfaillie, but then again, unlike Reich I am not a lawyer. Anayway, I apologise for calling “whistleblowers” those scientists who contact journalists with reports about irreproducible papers.
News in Tweets
- Ars Technica on the superconductive fraud by Ranga Dias and Ashkan Salamat : “On Monday, the journal Nature released a report from Nanjing University researchers that had attempted to replicate an earlier paper that described a compound that superconducted at room temperature and relatively moderate pressures. Despite persuasive evidence that they’ve produced the same chemical, the team indicates they see no sign of superconductivity, even down to extremely low temperatures.” Original paper: Ming et al “Absence of near-ambient superconductivity in LuH2±xNy“, Nature, 2023. For Nature, it is all a scientific debate now, no fraud anymore!
Anatomy of a Retraction 2 – Superconductive Fraud
Maarten van Kampen dispels the superconductive illusions of Ranga Dias and Ashkan Salamat. Will we also receive a cease-and-desist letter now?
Superconductive Fraud: The Sequel
“After the huge box-office success of “Nature 2020: Room-temperature superconductivity in CSH” this March our Nature studios released a sequel with the same star-studded cast: “Nature 2023: Near-ambient superconductivity in N-doped LuHx”. – Maarten van Kampen
- Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant reports (Google-translated): “Professor of food technologies Vincenzo Fogliano of Wageningen University and Research (WUR) will be removed from his chair immediately for two years. That means he can no longer lead his research group. He also receives an official warning. If he commits another integrity violation, he will be fired. This was announced by the WUR on Wednesday afternoon. The rebuke follows research by De Volkskrant , which showed that several Dutch top scientists responded to offers from King Saud University (KSU) in Riyadh. […] In exchange for research money, two top scientists in the Netherlands, including Fogliano, mistakenly listed KSU as the main employer in the database of most cited scientists in the world. On paper, Fogliano therefore worked for three years in a row mainly for the KSU, while he was actually a full-time professor at the WUR. Because of that sham construction, the Saudi university rose in the prestigious International Shanghai Ranking.”
- Smut Clyde: “it must be a lot of work to hand-stipple a fake flow-cytometry plot like this, so it’s understandable that a papermill might reuse it.“
- The amazing Gangjun Du of Henan University defends Zhang et al 2019, Zhou et al 2021, Gu et al 2022 and Gao et al 2022 with “it was terrible for our database to be attacked by a virus and to be confused by label lose. […] Our studies were based on TCM theory and practice which have helped many patients getting well, our conclusions and experiments are true.” And for Guo et al 2022, Du explains (on another thread) what happened: “it is possible for the first author in Molecules to misstore the same data as the first author in Plos One and simultaneously confuse her personal data due to a severe anemia when manuscript writing.” His full PubPeer record is here.
- Another silly excuse, this time He Wang defending Yu et al 2022: “I just received feedback from the student who conducted the experiment. Hi Dr. Wang, My laptop was formatted by the university’s IT department when I left, so it may not be so easy to find the original raw data anymore. I am not sure if a mistake was made during data processing and the scans were mixed up“, followed by “For academic staff, we also have computers rented by the university (from a company). But we need to return the computer when renting time is due.“. The extra joke is: this lab is not in China, but at University of Newcastle, Australia.
- The journal Medical Science Monitor retracts a fraudulent paper Cao et al 2019 in just two days. Retraction of 16 May 2023: “The Editors of Medical Science Monitor wish to inform you that the above manuscript has been retracted from publication due to concerns with the credibility and originality of the study, the manuscript content, and the Figure images.“
- “Ethics schmethics.”
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Pingback: Catherine Verfaillie, the Zombie Scientist of KU Leuven – For Better Science
Thank you Leonid for giving this AIP case publicity. And if we had not mentioned you and your blog in the last reminding email message to them, probably AIP would not have taken this decision so soon afterwards. This can be seen in the ambiguous reason for retraction “significant overlap”, while there are whole sentences the same – a clear case of copy-paste plagiarism. We have made attempts this reason to be made more clear but I guess we should be very “grateful/beholden” that they have retracted the paper.
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“[Ruth Gabizon] is finding cures for the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), trained as postdoc by none other but the Nobelist Stanley Prusiner himself.”
Ah yes, one of these cases where Research Integrity Hero Holden Thorp discreetly does nothing at all because the cheater author is a Nobelist.
I sent Gabizon, er faculty superior and the Hebrew U ethics office the above article.
“For more than ten years, our lab has been devoted to the development of food supplements based on nano-formulations of antioxidant oils. In this context we have developed Granagard, based on pomegranate seed oil, which has been in the market for several years. No side effects were ever reported by the general public and in any of the ongoing clinical trials. Indeed, I have also been taking the supplement myself for several years now.
The first paper showing Granagard (Nano-PSO) administration to TgMHu2ME199K can delay disease advance was published in 2014, before the first questions in Pub Peer, but I made no connection at the time. In other papers, we described its effect in other models of brain disease including MS and AD. We are now wondering whether the commercial development of Granagard and the new “interest “ in a paper corrected years ago are connected. No other explanation for the timing and strange allegations.
Hope this explains the facts
Ruth Gabizon, PHD”
No reaction from others. They indeed think I am a German Nazi Antisemite Diaspora Jew terrorising their scholars and the State of Israel.
Rami Aqeilan (out of the Carlo Croce stable) same university as Ruth Gabizon.
Another Nobelist. Says he is going to correct mistakes, but doesn’t. All very British and sedate. Rest of the British establishment will support him in the hope that he will vote for their Nobel prize. Overshadowed by the rampant fakery of one of the other 2 awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.
Gabizon does raise an interesting point in her somewhat desperate comments on the PubPeer sleuths, which is that they mostly only catch the lazy, impatient and desperate cheaters. She helpfully reveals how faking should be done, and reveals how smooth operators can get away with it. At least until body of work, or even field, is revealed as bogus by whistleblowers, or pesky replicators who aren’t in on the game.
Bogus research field you say? A quick search and here you have Cedars Sinai doing clinical trial with heart stem cells https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehaa541
Cedars Sinai, only the highest quality.
James Turson, previously Hawaii.
Dylan Burdette (2 retractions on the pubpeer Turson search) is not a failed scientist:
“I have great confidence that Dr. Turkson will provide superb leadership and implementation of programs, policies and initiatives that enhance the diversity of our cancer center’s membership, leadership, staff and trainees,” said Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of Cedars-Sinai Cancer and the PHASE ONE Foundation Distinguished Chair.
Does the diversity include making it up?
Dylan Burdette 7 retractions.
Your count seems to be wrong. Just two of those seven retractions include Dylan Burdette.
You are correct. 2 retractions for Dylan Burdette. Apologies to Dylan Burdette.
Searching for Burdette had identified retractions by Gulam Waris.