University, funding agency clear researcher Rui Curi of fraud charges

Rui Curi
Rui Curi

The University of São Paulo and Brazil’s National Council of Technological and Scientific Development funding agency (CNPq) have cleared a researcher of fraud following a six-month investigation.

The CNPq’s Commission on Integrity in Scientific Activity noted, however, that “there was failure to exercise rigor in the conduct and dissemination of results [in Rui Curi’s work], essential to quality research.”

Endocrinology and metabolism researcher Curi, whose legal threats against led to the shutdown of the site, has had two papers retracted and three corrected, all for image problems.

The Estadao newspaper reported that the University of São Paulo will now forward their findings to the Foundation for Research Support of the State of São Paulo (FAPESP) (courtesy Google Translate):

“We will review the information and see whether or not we accept the result of the investigation,” said Luiz Henrique Lopes dos Santos, USP professor and member of the Coordination Deputy Scientific Director of FAPESP, accompanying the case. The foundation may open its own investigation, if the opinion is not considered satisfactory.

Curi and his colleagues’ grant applications remain frozen during the process.

Folha de São Paulo also reported on the findings.

18 thoughts on “University, funding agency clear researcher Rui Curi of fraud charges”

  1. Although I don’t know any of the details in this case, I know another case in Germany, where it appeares to be understandable, that a bavarian university – basically fully independent of any democratic, political or governmental control – needed almost three years to start the pre-investigation (which according to their own rules should not take more than two weeks, but it was announced that a good investigation may take a considerable amount of time, my impression was, they wanted to take forever…, but it then did not even take three years to start the investigation, which means: someone is declared to name the members of a “suitable”, i.e. perhaps, independent committee…). Since the university controls itself, it was more than surprising that not all members agreed there was no plagiarism.
    So, my estimated guess is, wherever a university controls itself, there is a better chance to travel to the moon than to have a university to admit severest plagiarism or fraud.

    1. CR, sorry I do not understand that…why this means that Curi has all the right? he got 2 papers retracted, exactly the ones under suspicion by Science-Fraud, and also the others corrected were pointed out by S-F. So to me it does not seems that he has the rights…

  2. The decision was taken mostly by CNPq, the highest authority in Science in Brazil, so, there’s nothing much to do now. USP’s decision will be merely an administrative issue. Funny enough, no discussion at a scientific level was exposed by Beirao and the others, such as why data was not manipulated, how to explain that festival of splicing and those magnificent shameless IF data… Again, Curi WAS, Curi is not. Not anymore. His reputation was lost in the brazilian mainstream of biochemistry now and forever. But guys like him just stay alive as a monolitic figure of the past. Beirao is a serious guy, good character and great reputation, more than 30 years dedicating his career to the best way of doing science in Brazil. The major flaw is HOW Brazilian science is considered right now among people and government: it is no considered serious. The whole system is not prepared to such delicate subjects. Not yet. However, a whole new generation coming back from abroad is building a new reputation, with good ethics and aggressive strategies to put CNPq’s rules of funding on the table, to make things clearerm exposing people like Curi and others without too much fear. Some of these guys are just “local” authorities, the high comitees at CNPq are mixes of young and old blood, of all kinds. Some others, like me, decided to stay abroad, with a feet on Terra Brasilis, helping those young bloods to carry on that heavy weight on their shoulders. We still believe in a sort of change, somehow…

    1. Dear Deus, I really appreciate those who still believe in Terra Brasilis, but Curi has left a good many “minions” here, and there are many others
      like him in the system. Many of those belong in corporative organisations of different sorts (e.g. political parties or even religious groups), and they invest a lot in politics. They put a lot of pressure to force our best young scientists into fitting in, by preventing them from taking soar. Many are giving up their careers or moving abroad. Brazilian science is essentially another branch of politics, which is basically a local form of canalizing public money. Curi indeed sits at the top of what he built, and I guess international reputation might have not been his main goal.

      1. Altough I may agree with you CR, this pessimistic feeling is a sort of cancer that might be avoided at this moment. Altough brazilian science has some major flaws, there are some excellent research groups producing top notch science, specially at Rio, São Paulo and Minas. As you might know, in a big country like ours, the way of doing and discussing science may vary heaviliy among top ranked universities and a generalization is really unfair. CNPq now is devoting their attention to the Science without Frontiers project (CsF, millions of dollars), sending students (all levels) abroad and struggling to analyze the pros and cons of this strategy (since they must come back and keep the track, i.e. top quality science in Terra Brasilis), that will certainly become more clear in a 10 years time. However, we are still being supported by research grants from the NIH, Howard Hughes, CNRS, GSK and many others that have their own research integrity protocols and help somehow to keep our young bloods “in line” with international scientific ethic guidelines (if they really exist as an unique entity). I can see somehow that brazilian science is more open, argumentative and influent than our subequatorial counterparts, such as India and China (a whole world on its own). At least in biomedical sciences. Kudos to our fellow brazilian researchers that keep their integrity with solid and honest transatlantic branches.

        1. Sorry for a pessimistic view, but I am watching my good colleagues succumbing to the pressure of the system (either by letting go or by taking any easiest path) and CNPq rewarding those who ought to be punished and the government propaganda using CsF and university “quotes” to get more votes in much less than 10 years. New students coming to our lab know nothing, offer nothing and want grants. And this is a top-notch institute (rank 7) in a top university. Obviously we have many good people: the ones I know are not happy. Especially as they tend not to be or even stay at the top of the Brazilian ranking system.
          I am not so sure about quality of Brazilian science compared with India, China, and many others — this would need lengthy discussion with colleagues from these countries. In my field we are in fact doing quite well, but Colombia is always doing great and I suspect much better than us from a % standpoint.
          This is a view from inside. Hopefully when I settle outside like you (quite soon, I hope), I may also become more positive than my colleagues here, and feel much better.

    1. Yes, everybody owes Dr. Curi a big apology and a bigger hug.
      We are soo sooory that somebody, maybe you mess up with your scientific data and you did not catch it. We are soo sooory that there are quit few people who still care about scientific integrity and you tried to shut them up and take their blog down.
      We are soo sooory that you were caught flat footed and your papers got retracted.
      Finally, thank you for teaching us not to do such a thing, as we may get away with it for awhile, but eventually, we are going to get caught and our name and reputation will be in the mud for the rest of our life.

  3. There is no reason to believe that Curi is straightforward. Brazilian funding agencies does not have a research integrity office, and this current investigation was conducted in a obscure way. There’s was not an official report, and if the case did happened elsewhere, he would be considered guilty.

    For example, a recent ORI report:

    “ORI found that Respondent committed research misconduct by falsifying Western blot images”.

    That is exactly what Curi did, as we can see here in a paper that was retracted:×164.jpg

    The brazilian committee found this OK. Instead they called this “lack of scientific rigor”, which means misconduct in most countries…

    The committee was lead by Paulo Beirão, who published with Curi previously:

    BEIRÃO, P. S. L. . Canais iônicos e eletrogênese nas células excitáveis. In: Rui Curi; Joaquim Procópio. (Org.). Fisiologia Básica. 1ed.Rio de Janeiro: Guanabara Koogan, 2009, v. , p. 92-114.

    1. Holy smoke! The guy that was the committe head for judging Curi’s fraud had published before with him, and had given lecture in Curi’s Institute? Owwwwww… So no conflict of interest from Beirao to judge it?
      Well, that settles it. LOL… that is just bizarre.

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