Second retraction arrives in Alirio Melendez case

Alirio Melendez, whose former employer, the National University of Singapore, is investigating about 70 of his papers, has retracted a second study. Here’s the notice for the 2010 Journal of Molecular Cell Biology paper, “Sphingosine-1-phosphate mediates proliferation maintaining the multipotency of human Adult Bone Marrow and Adipose Tissue-derived Stem Cells:”

This paper has been retracted by its authors and the journal’s Editor-in-Chief because irregularities have been identified in some of the figures that render two of its major conclusions unsound: (1) that both human AD-MSCs and BM-MSCs express all of the five S1P-receptors; and (2) that no significant changes were observed in cells grown under the different culture conditions.

The study has been cited three times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Melendez has a previous retraction in Nature Immunology, and an Expression of Concern in Science.

Hat tip: “Clare Francis”

8 thoughts on “Second retraction arrives in Alirio Melendez case”

  1. Incidences like this occur because of lack of public oversight into the workings of medical education and research. The whole set up of academia facilitates academic corruption. Common sense and experience would tell you that it would be next to immpossible to adequately supervise more than a couple of students at any one time if one is not a full time researcher. A badly supervised student eventually goes on to become an incompetent researcher and incompetent Professor and the cycle continues.
    No one complains because everyone is happy to be promoted and make more money.
    These fictitious “findings” are then compiled as “textbooks” and force fed to brain dead medical students-and the cycle continues. Someone, pleaseeeeeeeeee put a stop to this.

    1. With the issue of “fictitious “findings” are then compiled as “textbooks” and force fed to brain dead medical students” in mind, an author, Ralf Paus, who gets a mention on this website for chalking up six retractions and an expression of concern has also chalked up 2 texbooks.

      The textbooks:

      http://webshop.thieme.de/webshop/product/thieme/9783136970065/detail.jsf;jsessionid=C342EFD59E9A681B418715D17C05F19F

      http://webshop.thieme.de/webshop/product/thieme/9783131359117/detail.jsf;jsessionid=C342EFD59E9A681B418715D17C05F19F

      The retractions:

      6 of these 12

      http://www.retractionwatch.com/2011/03/14/as-last-of-12-promised-bulfone-paus-retractions-appears-a-disappointing-report-card-on-journal-transparency/

      The expression of concern

      http://www.retractionwatch.com/2011/11/08/expression-of-concern-for-a-bulfone-paus-paper/

      What does this say about the scientific standards of Georg Thieme Verlag KG, the publisher of the 2 textbooks for medical students and doctors?

      Georg Thieme Verlag KG is aware of the isue as I have e-mailed their
      Programmplanung / Publishing Editor
      Georg Thieme Verlag KG
      Rüdigerstraße 14 | 70469 Stuttgart
      on the 11th of November 2011 about the issue. On the 18th of November I received an automatic reply saying that she would be back in the office on the 23rd of November. I have received e-mail replies from this person so I know she does exist.

      Surely Georg Thieme Verlag KG, renowned for its rows and rows of textbooks for the medical student, has a view on the matter of the scientific integrity of an author of two of its publications?

      Does any of it matter, or is it just part of the medico-industrial complex, where simply profits count?
      It may not be the question that people like to ask at the very best of dinner tables, but it is a question that needs to be asked.

      1. The same R. Paus is one of the 2 editors of Experimental Dermatology:

        http://www.wiley.com/bw/journal.asp?ref=0906-6705

        What do the publishers Blackwell-Wiley have to say on the matter?

        An early question to the other editor of Experimental Dermatology did not yield any answers:

        Ursprüngliche Nachricht—–
        Von: fernando soares [mailto:fernandopessoa37@googlemail.com]
        Gesendet: Mittwoch, 29. September 2010 13:37
        An: rodil@uni-muenster.de
        Betreff: Re: editorial work Experimental Dermatology

        Dear professor Luger,

        Following Fiona Godlee’s (the editor of the BMJ) advice below I have a few questions.

        What process do you follow when dealing with prof. dr. Ralf Paus’s work when it is submitted to the journal Exerimental Dermatology, of which he has been an associate editor since 1999, and now a full editor? What are your policies for dealing with work submitted by editors in general?

        What proportion of prof. dr. Ralf Paus’s submissions to Experimental Dermatology were:-

        1. sent out for review?
        2. published in Experimental Dermatology?

        A review of prof. dr. Paus’s output on PubMED showed that:

        Ralf Paus’s full submissions published in Experimental Dermatology accounted for 2.5% of his total output before he became an editor.

        Ralf Paus’s full submissions published Experimental Dermatology accounted for 9.2% of his total output after he became an editor.

        I have made the table below:

        Years Total output Exp Dermatol full submissions full submissions
        Exp Dermatol in Exp Dermatol as % of total output

        pre1999 118 6 3 2.5

        1999 282 43 26 9.2
        and later

        Please let me know if the table appears correctly.

        Do you see a problem with the fact that prof. dr. Ralf Paus has published so much in his own journal?

        I look forward to hearing from you.

        Fernando P.

        My complaint to Blackwell-Wiley:

        From: fernando soares [mailto:fernandopessoa37@googlemail.com]
        Sent: 22 May 2011 14:54
        To: Wiley Corporate Information
        Cc: Customer Service Books Enquiries UK; liz@sideview.demon.co.uk; FGodlee@bmj.com; ivan-oransky@erols.com
        Subject: scientific misconduct at Experimental Dermatology: editorial work Experimental Dermatology

        Dear CEO of Wiley-Blackwell publishers,

        I am making a complaint about the Journal Experimental Dermatology. I believe it is stonewalling and trying to cover up scientific misconduct by R. Paus, who is one on its two editors.

        http://www.wiley.com/bw/journal.asp?ref=0906-6705

        I contacted one of the editors, prof. Thomas Luger on the 17th of September 2010 about the journal’s editorial policies when it comes to dealing with the primary submissions from editorial staff.

        The other editor of Experimental Dermatology has been involved in 6 recent retractions of his own scientific work. In fact 6 of the 12 mentioned here.

        http://www.retractionwatch.com/2011/03/14/as-last-of-12-promised-bulfone-paus-retractions-appears-a-disappointing-report-card-on-journal-transparency/

        The issue is not going away:

        http://www.retractionwatch.com/2011/05/19/bulfone-paus-saga-continues-her-supporters-and-home-institution-exchange-sharp-letters/

        The pattern of his publishing in the journal of which he is one of the two main editors is suspicious. The editor-in-chief of the BMJ, in fact gave me some hints on the kinds of question to put to prof. Thomas Luger.

        I believe that the journal knows about my questions.

        A reminder:

        Fra: fernando soares [mailto:fernandopessoa37@googlemail.com]
        Sendt: 01 June 2011 15:02
        Til: Trier-Mork, Thomas – Copenhagen
        Cc: liz@sideview.demon.co.uk; FGodlee@bmj.com; ivan-oransky@erols.com
        Emne: Please answer the specific questions which were sent to prof Thomas Luger on Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 10:45 AM

        Dear Thomas Trier-Mork,

        Please answer the specific questions which were sent to prof Luger on Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 10:45 AM

        What proportion of prof. dr. Ralf Paus’s submissions to Experimental Dermatology were:-

        1. sent out for review?
        2. published in Experimental Dermatology?

        A review of prof. dr. Paus’s output on PubMED showed that:

        Ralf Paus’s full submissions published in Experimental Dermatology accounted for 2.5% of his total output before he became an editor.

        Ralf Paus’s full submissions published Experimental Dermatology accounted for 9.2% of his total output after he became an editor.

        I have made the table below:

        Years Total output Exp Dermatol full submissions full submissions
        Exp Dermatol in Exp Dermatol as % of total output

        pre1999 118 6 3 2.5

        1999 282 43 26 9.2
        and later

        Please let me know if the table appears correctly.

        Do you see a problem with the fact that prof. dr. Ralf Paus has published so much in his own journal?

        I look forward to hearing from you.

        I fail to see how simply sending me another document answers the questions.

        I hope you get my point.

        It is not personal, but could somebody at Wiley please answer the questions.

        Somebody needs to do some wok, not just send a website for me to read.

        F.P.

        The last word from Wiley Press:

        From: “Trier-Mork, Thomas – Copenhagen”
        Date: Fri, 10 Jun 2011 15:21:24 +0100
        Subject: SV: request estimated time for public viewing of chances of being published in Exp Dermatol. Data to determine review and publication success rate primary submissions to Exp Dermatol:
        To: fernando soares

        Dear Fernando Soares,

        Given that EXD is considered the foremost journal for experimental dermatology in the field after the JID, EXD is the natural choice for any manuscript that is not suitable for the JID.
        There is absolutely no reason why manuscripts (co-)authored by editors or Editorial board members should be denied this natural choice of preferred target journal, if the manuscripts make it through critical, anonymous peer-review.

        As mentioned: every manuscript is going through anonymous peer-review hence I do not see the point in analyzing data all the way back to 1999. The criteria for acceptance is quality, not personality.

        I am sorry I cannot help you further. Thank you for your interest in Experimental Dermatology.

        Sincerely
        Thomas Trier-Mork
        ______________________________________
        Thomas Trier-Mork
        Journal Publishing Manager
        Wiley-Blackwell
        1 Rosenorns Allé, DK-1970 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
        Phone number: +45 77 33 33 54
        e-mail: ttm@wiley.com

  2. …and there is the case with Leonardo Gomes, Brazil, who had a whole book cancelled by Springer just in front of the printer as a long series of misconduct of his were discovered by other coauthors in the textbook. His former university and tutor still support him, and he never got officially punished. His book came out in Brazil in a lower-profile print.

    The only way to reduce (never stop) this is constant vigilance. At least Springer was awakened at the very last moment, and this was the doing of whistleblowers and people with voice.

  3. A good PhD program, for prospective self-funded students, is currently available at the University of Liverpool. Hit the link below to get more info and spread the message across!!!!!!!

    http://www.liv.ac.uk/integrative-biology/postgraduate-study/phd-studentships/structural-and-chemical-biology/structural-characterisation-of-a-validated-and-nov/

    Application by email, should be sent as soon as possible to:

    Mrs. Linda J. Marsh
    Research Support Office
    Institute of Integrative Biology
    The Life Sciences Building
    Crown Street
    Liverpool L69 7ZB
    email: biolres@liverpool.ac.uk,
    phone: 0151 795 5121
    fax: 0151 795 5122

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