Eric Lam is yet another of the many “Curing Cancer with Photoshop” researchers which PubPeer is full of. This professor of molecular Oncology at Imperial College in London is responsible for several papers with duplicated gel bands, but does it matter? He has 250 more.
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.
With nobody above him, ICR director Paul Workman was seemingly investigating himself, and found two female colleagues guilty of placing fake data into his papers, primarily the ICR emeritus Ann Jackman. One paper was retracted, another received an outrageous correction. The previous ICR CEO, Alan Ashworth, together with his right-hand man Chris Lord, have their own impressive, but hitherto ignored, record on PubPeer.
The Paolo Macchiarini investigation was initiated in 2016 by the interim Karolinska Rector Karin Dahlman-Wright, finalised this year by the newly installed Ole Petter Ottersen. The irony is that several Dahlman-Wright papers were now scrutinised data integrity sleuths with the result that one wonders if Dahlman-Wright was the right person to supervise any research misconduct investigations. Also Ottersen himself might be tainted: he is co-author on an old paper with image duplication.
On 7 April 2010 the Spanish diabetes researcher Margarita Lorenzo died of metastatic melanoma, aged only 51. Two months after her death, Lorenzo’s colleagues submitted a paper to the journal Diabetes. The paper, which studies the mechanisms of obesity and insulin resistance, seems to be full of manipulated western blot data. While Lorenzo was dying of cancer, her colleagues advanced their careers using her reputation, using their own disreputable Photoshop skills.
Before biology became digital, with its -omics and big data, there were mostly gels and microscopy images. The peak of image use in biomedical papers was reached at the turn of the century, those became the golden times of Photoshop-assisted data manipulation. To celebrate that period, I selected an example of the British cancer researcher Paul Workman, President and CEO of the huge Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London.