Catherine Jessus case: journals hide behind Sorbonne & COPE to avoid retractions

Catherine Jessus case: journals hide behind Sorbonne & COPE to avoid retractions

Some rather jaw-dropping corrections for the French martyr saint of research integrity, Catherine Jessus, head of biology branch at the French CNRS, professor of developmental biology at Sorbonne University in Paris. Jessus is the feared CNRS executive whose case divided French academics and even media into loyal Stalinists and enemies of the people, after Sorbonne whitewashed their professor in a parody of an investigation. The Stalinists being the over 500 signature supporters of Jessus, the enemies of the people to be rooted out are 10 critical authors of a counter-report and the daily newspaper Le Monde. The fresh corrections were now issued by the UK-based non-profit academic publisher The Company of Biologists, in their two journals Development and Journal of Cell Science. Two of these four papers, the worst ones, feature as first author Jessus’ mentee Anthi Karaiskou (now associate professor at Sorbonne University). All these works of science contain such appalling Photoshop manipulations (while the relevant raw data was reliably missing) that the academic publisher had to bend over backwards to invent the reason why they did not retract those. In one case, there wasn’t even a correction. The journal simply issued a strange “publisher’s note”, telling which figures have been rigged and that original data was unavailable.

The argument went: the investigation by the Sorbonne University declared those copy-pasted gel bands to be good scientific practice, and even announced in advance on behalf of the journals that no corrections will be necessary. Based on that investigative report (which, as it was leaked, was written by Jessus’ personal ally and subordinate colleague Francis-Andre Wollman, assisted by Jessus herself), namely that manipulated data has no impact on the scientific message of the paper, the two journals resorted to the guidelines by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) which say that a retraction is not appropriate where scientific message is solid. The circle of Pravda-esque idiocy was complete, and here come the three corrections and the bizarre “publisher’s note”, illustrated by the evidence from my site and on PubPeer. Do compare them with what now serves as replacement, the scientific message is not really always the same. Continue reading “Catherine Jessus case: journals hide behind Sorbonne & COPE to avoid retractions”

DFG and Marburg drop misconduct investigation of Roland Lill papers

DFG and Marburg drop misconduct investigation of Roland Lill papers

The German Research Foundation (DFG) has terminated the investigation against their Senator and Marburg University professor Roland Lill, after having found no research misconduct in his papers on yeast biochemistry. No comments are issued on the integrity of the data in his papers as it was flagged on PubPeer and reported on my site, or on the fact that some unusual image manipulations were already admitted by Lill and his former PhD students (read here), or that some papers already had to be corrected (read here). All I was told that the investigation was dropped after DFG followed the Marburg University in their decision that “a scientific misconduct can not be proved”.

This was the letter I received yesterday from the Marburg University Ombudsman Helmut Remschmidt : Continue reading “DFG and Marburg drop misconduct investigation of Roland Lill papers”

Macchiarini victim Zhadyra Iglikova is dead

Macchiarini victim Zhadyra Iglikova is dead

English version below

Умерла еще одна жертва Маккиарини – Жадыра Игликова

Еще одна из пациенток, которым  Маккиарини в прошлом проводил трансплантацию трахеи, умерла 9 июля 2018. Об этом сообщила российский медицинский журналист Алла Астахова, упомнув в качестве источника аккаунт в Instagram одного из членов семьи пациентки. Аккаунт содержит много ценной информации. Жадыра Игликова получила от Маккиарини обесклеченную трахею посмертного донора в декабре 2010 года. Эта операция была шоу своего рода и должна была привлечь чудо-хирурга в российский проект мегагрантов. Результатом стали до 6 смертельных трансплантаций пластиковой трахеи . Трансплантат был получен в больнице Careggi во Флоренции, где Маккиарини работал в то время, и доставлен в Россию. Операция была проведена в московской Национальном научном центре хирургии имени Петровского. Ведущим хирургом наряду с Маккиарини был Владимир Паршин . Сразу же после этого последовали осложнения, трансплантат развалился и сгнил, как сообщает  Дземешкевич 2015 .

К 2018 году состояние Жадыры критически ухудшилось, у нее была хроническая пневмония, трахеопищеводный свищ и весила она менее 39 кг. В феврале 2018 ее семья отправилась с ней из Казахстана в Москву искать помощи в клинике МГМУ имени Сеченова. Совпадение или нет, но руководит отделением торакальной хирургии в этой клинике Паршин, выполнивший первую операцию по пересадке трахеи Жадыре в 2010 году. Continue reading “Macchiarini victim Zhadyra Iglikova is dead”

Gothenburg to sack Sumitran-Holgersson, requests 7 retractions

Gothenburg to sack Sumitran-Holgersson, requests 7 retractions

The travesty around the data faking regenerative medicine enthusiast Suchitra Sumitran-Holgersson is finally over. Her Swedish employer University of Gotheburg (GU) announced yesterday to have opened labour law proceedings against her, with the expressed goal of her dismissal as university professor. No appeal is possible anymore, and her loyal GU supporters Elias Eriksson and Kristoffer Hellstrand can now take a rest from nearly 10 years of lobbying, obstructing and bullying everyone involved in the misconduct investigations of their dear colleague. On top, retractions of 7 Sumitran-Holgersson publications were requested by the GU rector.

Sumitran-Holgersson, formerly a Karolinska Institutet researcher, survived a misconduct investigation by the Swedish Research Council from 2009-2011, because her friends achieved a dismissal of all damning evidence of data manipulation on formality grounds; the two investigators themselves ended up threatened with lawsuits. The newly appointed GU professor only had to retract one paper. In early 2016, when the regenerative medicine scandal around Paolo Macchiarini exploded in Sweden, PubPeer evidence of image manipulations was posted en masse (including by certain readers of my site) about Sumitran-Holgersson’s work in the field. That prompted a new misconduct investigation by GU and the Swedish Central Ethics Review Board (CEPN). In spring 2016, Sumitran-Holgersson saw her funding frozen and her paper retracted, which reported an unethical Macchiarini-style trachea transplant, likely responsible for the death of that patient. That work was performed together with GU surgeon Michael Olausson, with whom Sumitran-Holgersson also developed bioengineered blood vessels which they tested on children without proper ethics approvals. For that, both were found guilty of misconduct one year later, in March 2017. Which not only still didn’t cost Sumitran-Holgersson her job as GU professor: her own business Verigraft was right after awarded €2.3 mn by the EU Commission under Horizon 2020, based on her papers tainted with data manipulations and severe ethics breaches. The money was earmarked by excited EU bureaucrats to market and bring that very same blood vessel graft technology into a large clinical trial; in this regard please read the excellent investigation for my site by Sophia Tibblin. Olausson’s own misconduct activities in the area of regenerative medicine and especially trachea transplantation served as his qualification to advice the Swedish State Prosecutor to drop manslaughter charges against Macchiarini in October 2017.

In March 2018, both Sumitran-Holgersson and Olausson were found guilty of misconduct once again, this time it was about data manipulation flagged on PubPeer 2 years before. Retractions of 8 papers was recommended by the CEPN decision, which GU now largely upheld in the rector’s yesterday’s announcement, with the difference that now all co-authors were freed of suspicions of misconduct. Update 7.07.2018: That was because GU’s (now updated) good scientific practice rules of the time did not sanction negligence, of which Michael Olausson and Jan Holgersson (Suchitra’s husband, also professor at GU and Chairman of Verigraft) were found guilty of, but with no disciplinary consequences.

For the indestructible Sumitran-Holgersson though it is now the end of the road. Continue reading “Gothenburg to sack Sumitran-Holgersson, requests 7 retractions”

Karolinska requests retraction of Macchiarini and Jungebluth papers

Karolinska requests retraction of Macchiarini and Jungebluth papers

Today the Swedish Karolinska Institutet (KI) will announce its decision about 6 papers of their former professor and surgeon, Paolo Macchiarini. This article will be updated accordingly. Update 14:00: a decision was published, all 6 papers are to be retracted, 7 scientists found guilty of misconduct.

The background: On 30 October 2017, Swedish Central Ethics Review Board (CEPN) requested that 6 publications by Macchiarini and co-authors, all authored while at KI, are to be retracted, in a press release and a statement I received, in English original. The decision was based on the expert review by Martin Björck, professor of surgery at University of Uppsala, and Detlev Ganten, professor emeritus of pharmacology and former CEO of the Charité university hospital in Berlin, Germany, their report is available here on my site. The two experts found Macchiarini and his former acolyte and right-hand man Philipp Jungebluth guilty of breaching the Nuremberg Code of 1947 and Helsinki declaration, which forbid unethical and dangerous medical research on humans. One of those papers set for retraction is Jungebluth et al Lancet 2011, where a patient from Iceland was tricked to subject himself to a deadly experiment with a never before tested plastic trachea (that issue lead to a major investigation in Iceland and now is even about to be addressed by the Icelandic parliament).

Judging from last week’s email by Jungebluth to KI which I quote below, a call for retraction is expected.

Continue reading “Karolinska requests retraction of Macchiarini and Jungebluth papers”

Edinburgh breaks silence to announce Stancheva retractions

Edinburgh breaks silence to announce Stancheva retractions

In October 2017, I brought an exclusive story of a mysterious sacking at the University of Edinburgh. The molecular biologist and epigenetics researcher Irina Stancheva was removed from her post as senior lecturer at the Scottish university, in total secret, all online traces of her employment rapidly deleted (even a promo video on Vimeo), her freshly obtained graduate school money redistributed to her faculty colleagues. The journal Nucleic Acid Research (NAR) soon after silently removed Stancheva as its Executive Editor. Still, I was able to gather some information, including leaked emails from Stancheva’s Head of Department David Gray (read here), but mysteriously no other media covered the story. Either heavily funded senior lecturers get sacked in Edinburgh on a weekly basis, or the university holds the newspapers in a vice grip in the Stancheva case. All my attempt at freedom of Information (FOI) were rejected by University of Edinburgh. There is a lot to hide: Stancheva is a third generation Edinburgh elite biologist: academic daughter of Professor of Human Genetics Richard Meehan and academic granddaughter of Meehan’s mentor, Professor of Genetics and Nobel Prize candidate Adrian Bird. Both Edinburg professors are co-authors on Stancheva’s papers flagged on PubPeer.

Now, after 8 months of silence, I received out of the blue an email from the same data protection officer who used to deny telling me the time of the day, with a list of Stancheva papers about to be retracted. The list follows below.

Continue reading “Edinburgh breaks silence to announce Stancheva retractions”

No good news, instead a major disaster in appeal court re: Macchiarini affair

The German justice has spoken on trachea transplants again, in the appeal hearing at Kammergericht Berlin, and found the problem to lie with the journalists and press freedom. Good news first: I might have won the first injunction case against Philipp Jungebluth, or at least in large part, so I will probably get most of my money refunded there (Update 30.05.2018: the court tricked me and rejected my appeal on that injunction too. It remains valid to 1/3 just as before, see below). This only happened because the judges regarded how exactly Jungebluth left his job in Heidelberg being a minor enough issue (they did advice him to sue a Swedish newspaper for interviewing him about his sacking in Sweden (sic!)). This money I then will pay back to Paolo Macchiarini‘s acolyte and the court, and much, much more on top, because the three appeal court judges announced to uphold the second injunction in full. These are their oral arguments from yesterday summarised: Continue reading “No good news, instead a major disaster in appeal court re: Macchiarini affair”