Two and a half years after Maria Fousteri was found guilty of scientific misconduct by her former employer, the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), exactly nothing at all happened. ERC and Molecular Cell ignored LUMC letters from June 2016, while Fouster’s British co-authors interfered to save own papers. Of 4 scheduled retractions, none took place.
Much of French media and academia, and certainly also the international plant science community now debates a hot conspiracy theory: what if Olivier Voinnet is actually innocent, a visionary genius who fell prey to a conspiracy of fraudulent colleagues and scheming bureaucrats? I discuss here the widespread dishonesty and data manipulation among Voinnet’s co-authors and peers. Is French research culture to blame?
Following my reporting, the cancer researcher Carlos López-Otín abandoned his ERC-funded 36-member-strong “Degradome” lab at the University of Oviedo in Spain and moved in with his collaborator in Paris, France, Guido Kroemer. Yet Lopez-Otin’s data integrity issues seem as poppycock compared to what Kroemer and his life partner Laurence Zitvogel dished out to the scientific community.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has a cancer research unit in France, IARC. Some papers from there contain impressive manipulations. The works of art are authored by Massimo Tommasino and his former junior colleague there Uzma Hasan, now tenured group leader at INSERM. Some of this research took place at the Schering-Plough Research Institute which was taken over by German pharma giant Merck.
The newspaper l’Express reported that Academie de Sciences commissioned an investigative report about the papers of former CNRS interim president Anne Peyroche, and that CNRS and the French Ministry of Research tried to suppress it. Peyroche herself could not be heard, because she is hospitalised since the affair started. So her co-authors took that as opportunity to blame Peyroche for every fake figure. Meanwhile, duplicated data was found even in Research Minister’s Frederique Vidal’s paper.
The hero of this new nano-malfeasance story by Smut Clyde is another Chinese Photoshop-enthusiast, Rijun Gui, a “specially recruited professor” at Qingdao University in China. There is also a female lead, Gui’s wife and colleague Hui Jin. Almost 30 of their papers, mostly published in Elsevier journals, are being discussed on and by PubPeer, one was already retracted by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
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.
Whatever concerns any peers might have had: Steffen and Christiane Reinbothe could rely on the “contributed” track at PNAS.
My regular contributor Smut Clyde will now lead you back on a trip to the magic world of “Nanotechnology”, where tiny particles are created, sometimes in real chemical laboratories, sometimes in the fake world of the Photoshop. Dong Ge Tong, of Chengdu University of Technology in China, is not just a photoshopper, but also a true philosopher.
The fraud case of Bristol cell biologist Abderrahmane Kaidi looked rather straightforward: Bristol University caught a group leader on data faking and bullying, and immediately had him removed. Turns out, it was not really like that.
Now I publish some very revealing leaked material, spiced with stories of a guerrilla Twitter account and a deleted student newspaper article.
Olivier Voinnet, responsible for probably the biggest fraud scandal in plant sciences, is back in the news. His present employer ETH Zürich has now concluded, in collaboration with CNRS, their second investigation into data manipulations in Voinnet papers. The ETH professor was declared innocent of any data manipulations, in the past, present and even future.