Science paper from Dutch top-institute retracted

A 2007 paper published in Science — in which I found image irregularities back in 2015 — has finally been retracted. For five long years, the journal took no action. But after I tweeted about the case, it eventually acted.

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Troubles with VSELs

A stem cell research group at the University of Louisville, Kentucky — famous for apparently discovering an exciting new class of stem cells — could be facing new troubles.

Although the work of Mariusz Ratajczak was supported through large NIH and Vatican grants, no other lab could replicate his findings on very small embryonic-like stem cells (VSELs).

And now, 28 papers from the Ratajczak lab are listed on PubPeer for image duplication and textual similarity concerns.

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Researcher photoshops his name onto a Nature Communications paper

Here’s a novel way to boost your resume: photoshop your own name onto a paper written by another research group. Then pin it to your Twitter profile and claim it as your own paper.

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“Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine” wins third “This Image Is Fine” Award

When it comes to image integrity, all papers are equal. But some papers appear more equal than others. A 2017 paper published in Elsevier’s journal Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine that included an image with lots of repetitive elements was not retracted, but instead received only a very mild correction for “an inadvertent mistake for Figure 3,B” (sic). One of the senior authors also happens to be an Associate Editor of the journal, raising questions about whether the investigation could have been carried out in an objective way.

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46 papers from a Royan Institute professor

The Royan Institute in Tehran, Iran was initially founded in 1991 as a research institute for infertility treatments. It now consists of three research institutes, one of which is the Royan Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Technology (RI-SCBT), which was founded in 2002 by Hossein Baharvand, its director.

Professor Hossein Baharvand has received many national and international awards, including three Razi research awards, the 2014 UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in Life Sciences, a 2019 TWAS Prize, and the 2019 Mustafa Prize. He has an H-index of 57, with nearly 400 papers on PubMed. And, as of today, 46 of those papers have PubPeer comments because of image concerns or undisclosed conflicts of interest.

TL:DR: Excel spreadsheet – PDF version

Hossein Baharvand accepting the 2019 Mustafa Prize. Photo by Sarah Abdollahi. Taken from Borna.news.
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Conflict of Skinterest

In my post on August 4 2020 I wrote about the mysterious Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents (JBRHA) that published the bizarre paper on 5G and Coronavirus (now withdrawn). Most papers in this journal are not accessible and the Editorial Board consists mostly of deceased people.

Browsing further back into the journal’s archive I found an interesting supplemental issue from 2016 that consists of 20 papers on psoriasis – all written by the same group of prolific authors.

The papers are not without problems. Lack of IRB approval, lack of patient consent to have their photos published, unclear patient recruitment and trial locations, inclusion of children in experimental drug testing, and to top it off, incorrect statements about conflict of interest. All papers heavily promote the same product line of herbal ointments and gels – and the founder of the company is one of the authors!

This is a huge conflict of interest.

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Hollywood doctor treats COVID-19 patients with his brother’s miracle cocktail

A COVID-19 related preprint – that quickly disappeared and reappeared after being discussed on social media – was brought to my attention by Dr. Kevin C Klatt via Twitter.

This preprint, authored by Robert Huizenga, is called Dramatic clinical improvement in nine consecutive acutely ill elderly COVID-19 patients treated with a nicotinamide mononucleotide cocktail: A retrospective case series.

In the study, Dr. Huizenga describes nine COVID-19 patients whom he treated with a mixture containing nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN).

Unfortunately, Robert Huizenga failed to disclose that this mixture is sold by a company founded by his brother, Joel Huizenga. He also treated these patients without the approval of an institutional review board (IRB).

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Journal accepts fake story about scooters and hydroxychloroquine

The Asian Journal of Medicine and Health might be one of those journals that will accept anything sent their way, as long as the authors pay the publication fee.

Yesterday, it published an obviously fake study that claimed that hydroxychloroquine could prevent push-scooter accidents – but only in Marseille. The paper has a lot of references to French scientists and politicians, and one of the authors is a famous French dog.

The paper got retracted today, but not before many had a good laugh at it on Twitter.

Boy on a push-scooter. Source: George Hodan, publicdomainpictures.net
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Job Opening: Data Integrity Manager

If you enjoy reading about scientific integrity issues and are looking for a job, this might be an interesting job opening.

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) together with the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) are looking to hire a new Data Integrity Manager.

From the job description: “This person will oversee all correspondence regarding potential misconduct in all ASBMB publications and oversee all decisions in accordance with ASBMB policies.” “This is a position requiring advanced studies in the biomedical sciences, excellent organizational and writing skills, the ability to conduct thorough investigations, regular coordination with various stakeholders and institutions, sound judgment, and some familiarity with and willingness to become an expert in libel and defamation.

I am not applying (loving my current independency!) but this might be a great career option for anyone interested in science integrity and a career in scientific publishing. You can read more here: [Data Integrity Manager]

The Spandidos Ménage à Trois

Two authors and a publisher found each other – and happily copy/pasted text from PhD theses written by others to pass it off as new review papers. Not once, not twice, but at least nine times.

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