Carol Prives, innocent victim of Susana Gonzalez’ data manipulations?

Carol Prives, innocent victim of Susana Gonzalez’ data manipulations?

Recent news brought us yet another retraction of the Spanish zombie scientist Susana Gonzalez, formerly famous for her impactful ERC-funded research into stem cells and ageing. It is her fifth retraction (others here), and meanwhile Gonzalez is not even a zombie scientist anymore. She has no research group in her new Madrid institute, noone in Spain wants to work in the same building with her, in fact though she is still formally employed with the Spanish Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), it seems she stopped coming to work long ago, being on an endless sick leave. Even the European Research Council (ERC), usually most accommodating with research misconduct of their elite grant recipients, didn’t know what to do with Gonzalez suspended €2Mn grant and eventually terminated it.

The recent Gonzalez retraction at the  Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) is interesting in two aspects. First, Retraction Watch previously chastised the journal in a headline for allegedly refusing to investigate evidence of data manipulations in papers older than 6 years (read here). No reference is made to that “smear” accusation in the current Retraction Watch article on Gonzalez retraction.  But the second aspect is really much more intriguing. The retracted MCB paper, from Gonzalez period as postdoc at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York, was coauthored by the US researcher Carol Prives, professor at the Columbia University in New York, and specialist for the cell cycle control protein p53: Continue reading “Carol Prives, innocent victim of Susana Gonzalez’ data manipulations?”

Three retractions and lost court case for zombie Susana Gonzalez

Three retractions and lost court case for zombie Susana Gonzalez

The Spanish zombie scientist Susana González, former star of regenerative medicine and ageing research, now retracts two papers in Nature Communications, after she only recently retracted a paper in Cell Cycle. The responsibility for the absence of original data and data manipulations is with her. She also recently lost her court case against her sacking with the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC) in Madrid, though this may go into the next court instance.  Her ERC research grant of €2 Million remains suspended. I previously reported about this and Gonzalez’s data integrity issues as well as her sacking from CNIC, and later on about her new job with Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa (CBMSO), also in Madrid. It seems at the present stage, Gonzalez is out on her ear of doing research, but certainly not out of being employed in academic research in Spain.  Continue reading “Three retractions and lost court case for zombie Susana Gonzalez”

Does ERC help cheaters pay protection money?

Does ERC help cheaters pay protection money?

Did you ever wonder why certain zombie scientists were still in academic jobs? Despite having been caught on data manipulation or biomedical ethics breach?

It seems the answer is simpler than you thought. They are paying for their protection, by giving pizzo to their crooked research institutions, just as in some unoriginal mafia film. Well, actually YOU are paying their pizzo, through your taxes, which in turn are awarded to these zombie scientists as public research funding, from the national, international and European funding agencies. In fact, the most prestigious and self-important European funding agency ERC is completely unprepared or maybe just unwilling to respond to evidence of research misconduct by their elite grant recipients.  

My understanding is provocative, and I may be utterly wrong. But absent of any reasonable alternative explanations, let us for a moment go with this one. I will provide you with examples where questionable European scientists surprisingly retained their European funding unquestioned (or even received fresh millions of Euros), and coincidently or not,  many institutions did not at all mind to keep them in their jobs. Continue reading “Does ERC help cheaters pay protection money?”

New tenured job for zombie scientist Susana Gonzalez

Susana González is a Spanish regenerative medicine scientist who promised to search for cures of heart ageing with the help of €1.9 Million from the EU public funder ERC, before in spring 2016 she lost it together with her group leader position at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC) in Madrid. Despite a misconduct investigation which led to Gonzalez sacking, ERC chose not to terminate her funding (unlike EMBO did with that of her similarly misconduct-tainted Iberian colleague Sonia Melo). ERC suspended this hefty sum, instead of re-using it for the funding of more honest applicants, while an ERC’s standing committees on ethics and integrity are investigating Gonzalez for possible research misconduct (see my report here).

Now it seems ERC might be able to give the freshly employed group leader Gonzalez her suspended funding back, that is, if they decide to do so. As I was informed by an insider source, Gonzalez is now employed from June 1st 2016 as group leader at the Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa (CBMSO) in Madrid. This zombie scientist did not even have to move house to find another tenured job in research. Here is one example of suspicious data irregularities in Gonzalez papers (listed on PubPeer): a western blot duplication across two publications from her lab (Herrero-Merchan et al 2012 and Arranz et al 2012): Continue reading “New tenured job for zombie scientist Susana Gonzalez”

ERC on Susana González’ suspended €2Mio grant: peer reviewers to spot manipulations

Spain is rocked by two misconduct scandals involving biomedical researchers Sonia Melo and Susana González. The latter has been sacked from her job as group leader at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC), after an internal investigation revealed serious “irregularities”, as El País reported. First concerns about data integrity in Gonzalez’ papers were posted on PubPeer and PubMed Commons as early as 2013, followed by further discoveries of suspicious image duplications like these:

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Continue reading “ERC on Susana González’ suspended €2Mio grant: peer reviewers to spot manipulations”